Marshall Frantz was born Samuel Mayer Frantz in Kiev, Ukraine, Russia, on December 24, 1890. His father, David Frantz, was born 1856 in Russia. His mother, Rosa Lasker, was born 1869 in Russia. They were were both Jewish. They married in 1882. Their first three children were born in Kiev, a region from which Jews were periodically driven away by violent ethnic riots (pogroms). In 1892 his family immigrated to America and settled in Philadelphia, which had a large and culturally vibrant community of Russian Jewish refugees. His father was a tailor. His parents had four more children, for a family total of seven. They lived at 420 Fulton Street in Philadelphia.
It was customary at that time for most children to leave schooling and enter the work force at the age of fourteen. His older siblings worked in garment factories.
In June of 1907 he graduated from Philadelphia High School, and was awarded a full scholarship to study at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art (PMSIA). This was the same school that H. J. Ward and Zoe Mozert were later to attend.
Samuel Frantz enrolled in the fall semester at PMSIA and trained under Walter Hunt Everett (1880-1946), who was the instructor in charge of the Course in Illustration, and was himself a former pupil of the school.
In May 1911 he completed his studies at PMSIA and received a diploma. At the graduation ceremony he was awarded the $10 Emma S. Crozer Prize for best work in drawing.
After graduation he went to work as an staff artist at a local newspaper.
In 1915 at the age of twenty-four he moved to New York City and opened an art studio at 46 Fifth Avenue. He was listed in a city business directory as "conducting a freelance illustration business."
On April 5, 1917 he reported for draft registration in accordance with national preparation for the Great War. He was recorded to be of medium height, medium build, with blue eyes and brown hair. He was twenty-six years of age and was not selected for military service.
On June 15, 1919 he married Marjorie Hass. She was born 1900 in New York City. Both her parents had emigrated from England.
On March 29, 1921 their son Daniel K. Frantz was born in New York City.
In 1922 he illustrated several popular novels that were reviewed nationwide.
His illustrations appeared in magazines, such as The Delineator, Cosmopolitan, Harper's Bazaar, Good Housekeeping, Colliers, Liberty, and The Saturday Evening Post.
By 1924 he had begun to spend the each winter season in St. Petersburg, Florida. He lived in a splendid home at 2960 Fourth Avenue North, where he entertained an active social life. According to the St. Petersburg Times, "Marshall Frantz is the highest paid illustrator in America." Such hyperbole promoted a lucrative sideline, painting high society portrait commissions.
From 1924 to 1926 he was listed in the national registry of Advertising Arts & Crafts, published by Kirby & Lee. His new art studio was at 121 West 23rd Street. This was near to the studios of Rudolph Zirm, John F. Gould, Walter Baumhofer, George Rozen and his twin brother Jerome Rozen.
His cover paintings appeared on pulp magazines, such as Everybody's Magazine, Big Chief Stories, Red Star Western, Star Western, and The Argosy.
By 1930 he lived at 333 West 86th Street on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
In 1931 a branch of the YMCA on Bedford Street in Brooklyn opened that organization's first art school, where he was a guest lecturer.
On September 23, 1933 he gave a lecture on "The Story of Illustration" at The School of Art, Commercial Illustration Studies Department, atop the Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street. According to newspaper advertisements, "The public was invited to attend."
As the Great Depression dragged on and slick magazines continued to suffer loss of advertising revenue, he followed the lead of other illustrators, such as Rolf Armstrong, Zoe Mozert, and Fred Small, to look for work in Hollywood. In 1937 he moved to California and eventually settled in Van Nuys, CA.
Marshall Frantz died at the age of sixty-two in Van Nuys on April 15, 1953.
© David Saunders 2011