Alice Margaret Kirkpatrick was born September 27, 1912 in Huntsville, Alabama. Her father, John Maurice Kirkpatrick, was born in 1867 in Ohio of Irish ancestry. Her mother, Helen Borton, was born in 1877 in Pennsylvania of Irish ancestry. Her parents married in December of 1899 in Alabama. After twelve years of marriage, their first and only child was born. The family lived at 506 Randolph Street in Huntsville, AL. The father was a bookkeeper. The elderly widowed maternal mother-in-law, Carrie M. Borton (b.1855), also lived with the family.
In 1927, at the age of fourteen, "Alice Kirkpatrick" was listed in the Huntsville telephone directory as a "student" living at home with her parents at 456 East Eustis Street. The same listing also appeared in the 1929 Huntsville Telephone Directory.
In June of 1930, at the age of seventeen, Alice Kirkpatrick graduated from Huntsville High School. After graduation she was listed in the 1930 Huntsville Telephone Directory as "absent," which suggests she attended college, where she probably received art training. If she completed a regular four-year college program, the date of her graduation was most likely June of 1934.
In 1934 her maternal grandmother, Carrie Borton, died at the age of seventy-nine in Huntsville.
On July 4, 1935 her father, John Maurice Kirkpatrick, died at the age of sixty-eight. He was buried in Maple Hill Cemetery in Huntsville.
In 1936 Alice Kirkpatrick left her mother in Huntsville and moved to New York City to seek her fortune as a commercial artist.
In 1937 she began to work for Ace Magazines as a pulp artist illustrating stories in the romance magazine, Love Fiction Monthly. She signed her work with the pen name "Kirk."
In the Summer of 1938 the NYC Manhattan Telephone Directory listed "755-4295" as the newly-registered number for Alice Kirkpatrick and her roommate, Jacqueline Franc. She was born in 1918 in Ohio, and had graduated from high school in June of 1936, after which she moved to NYC to seek her fortune as a model and actress. They shared the front apartment on the second floor of a brownstone townhouse at 40 West 53rd Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. At that same time, directly across the street from their front stoop, was a massive building project to construct the landmark Museum of Modern Art, designed by the architect Edward Durell Stone (1902-1978). The building was first opened to the public one year later on May 10, 1939.
Jacqueline Franc was a model who appeared on the cover of Harper's Bazaar. She was also a runway model for Macy's Department store. On December 6, 1939 she joined the chorus line in the Broadway play "Du Barry Was A Lady" by Cole Porter, which starred Bert Lahr and Ethel Merman. The play opened at the 46th Street Theatre on December 6, 1939, and ran for 408 performances until the end of 1940.
In 1940 the U.S. Census recorded Alice Kirkpatrick and Jacquelin Franc as roommates at 40 West 53rd Street. Both occupants were listed as single white women, not attending school.
On March 18, 1940 Life Magazine published a cover article on the chorus girls of "Du Barry Was A Lady." It was a photo essay on the private lives of the eleven show girls in the chorus line. According to the article, "Jacqueline Franc has gay, crisp manners but is pretty serious-minded. She looks forward to acting in Susan and God in a straw-hat theater next summer, has already started to learn her part. From her roommate, Alice Kirkpatrick, a commercial artist, Jacqueline has picked up sketching. She also writes poetry. Below: she poses for John LaGatta who is painting her for one of his glamorous magazine illustrations. He calls her a good, hard-working kid."
On October 13, 1941 The New York Times reported "Suspect Who Gazes at Scene of Robbery Finds Himself Captive. - A man who returned to the scene of a burglary committed the night before was arrested early yesterday when a detective found him gazing at the living-room window of the apartment of Alice Kirkpatrick, an artist, at 40 West Fifty-third Street. The prisoner, Dollard R. Beckett, 35 years old, a safe-mover living at 31 West Fifty-third Street, was held on a charge of suspicion of burglary after five dresses and a fur coat, which Miss Kirkpatrick said had been stolen from her apartment Saturday night, were found in his home. Miss Kirkpatrick appeared in Felony Court attired in a light polo coat and told Magistrate Raphael P. King that in addition to pressing charges against Beckett she would like to have her fur coat back. The magistrate pointed out, however, that the coat was 'evidence' and that she would have to wait until tomorrow when Beckett, held in $3,500 bail, will get a hearing." Similar accounts of this burglary also appeared that same day in The New York Sun, The New York Herald Tribune, The Brooklyn Eagle, and The New York Post.
According to the article in The New York Post, written by Hymen Goldberg, "Mrs. John M. Kirkpatrick, a little old gray-haired lady from Huntsville, Ala., came up here a couple weeks ago to visit her daughter Alice, a great big beautiful red-haired doll, who is about five feet ten and built to scale, with reddish hair and green eyes. Alice said, 'Last Saturday night mother and I went out of my place at 40 W. 53rd St., a brownstone building, and stayed out until about 11:30. When we came back the place was a wreck. On the window sill was one of my dresses and a coat, and on the floor was an empty gallon jug of wine, which had been spilled all over the rug. It smelled like a saloon. The detectives said it was very cheap wine. Of course it wasn't mine. And not only that, but he drank up a whole bottle of my Tweed perfume. How do I know he drank it? Well, he didn't sprinkle it on himself, so he must have, and the detectives said he had a terrific hangover when he was arrested.' Miss Kirkpatrick is a commercial artist. She would make a wonderful model, too. You ought to see her eyes. Oh, yes, when the husky culprit was arrested his clothing did not smell like Tweed perfume, although his breath did."
On October 16, 1948 the artist's mother, Helen Borton Kirkpatrick, died at the age of seventy-one in Huntsville. She was buried beside the artist's father in Maple Hill Cemetery.
In 1949 Alice Kirkpatrick began to draw romance comic books published by Ace Periodicals. Her work appeared in Real Love, All Romances, Complete Love, Love At First Sight, Love Experiences, Revealing Romances, Glamorous Romances, and Ten-Story Love.
In 1951 Jacqueline Franc left 40 West 53rd Street and moved a few doors east to 32 West 53rd Street. At that same time, a new roommate moved in with Alice Kirkpatrick. She was Muriel Birckhead, the thirty-three year-old daughter of a banker in White Plains, NY. She was born in 1918 in Washington D.C., and worked as a legal secretary.
On July 14, 1951 Alice Kirkpatrick, age thirty-eight, enjoyed a seven week vacation to France and England. She traveled with Muriel Birckhead, who was listed on the passenger manifest as her roommate at 40 West 53rd Street in NYC. They sailed on the H.M.S. Queen Mary, and returned to NYC on September 4, 1951.
In 1951 Alice Kirkpatrick began to draw romance comic books for Ziff-Davis, American Comics Group, and Timely Comics.
In 1956 Crown Publishers of NY produced "Taste of Glory" by Carleton Beals with a dust jacket by Alice Kirkpatrick.
In 1956 M.S. Mill Publishing Company produced "Widow's Pique" by Blair Treynor, with a dust jacket by Alice Kirkpatrick.
In September of 1958 Alice Kirkpatrick left 40 West 53rd Street, after twenty years, and moved a few doors west to 54 West 53rd Street.
In 1959 Crown Publishers of NY produced "Blackbeard's Bride" by Jeramie Price, with a dust jacket by Alice Kirkpatrick.
In 1963 Alice Kirkpatrick left 54 West 53rd Street, and moved uptown to an apartment building at 34 West 73rd Street, between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West.
In 1967 Alice Kirkpatrick left 34 West 73rd Street and moved to another large apartment building at 166 West 72nd Street.
During the 1960s, Alice Kirkpatrick began to spend the cold winter months of each year in Naples, Florida, where she bought a home.
In 1974 comic book historian Hames Ware (b.1943) corresponded with the artist Lou Cameron (1924-2010), who recalled, "Alice Kirkpatrick was one of the finest romance illustrators in the business. She was the mainstay at Ace Romances during the Golden Age. Her girls were the prettiest ones. Alice was something in her own right. She looked like a cross between Deborah Kerr and Katherine Hepburn. Alice Kirkpatrick was so good it's discouraging. She worked with a semi-dry brush, or maybe a well-chewed toothpick, and could get the affect of a human eye, or the notch in a man's lapel, with a glob of half-dried goo. She blocked out her compositions with a couple of pencil lines and worked entirely free-hand. The results were Liz Taylor and Lizbeth Scott playing opposite Gregory Peck with Westchester County in the background. Even after they got through smearing Ace's awful color separations over Kirk's stuff, it was up to the standards of slick romance illustration. I think she later did go on to such and made a bundle. Last I heard, she had some fancy apartments up in the 70s on the West Side, and hangs out with the jet set! If she had been a guy I'd have hated her guts, but since she was on top of being a great artist, one hellishly beautiful woman, my offer of matrimony still stands. Never, I hasten to add, voiced aloud to Miss Kirkpatrick. We were, as the columnists say, 'just friends.' Matter of fact, I don't think I made any impression at all. sob."
In the Summer of 1977 the NYC Telephone Directory, for the first time in forty years, contained no listing for Alice Kirkpatrick, and no listing appeared in any subsequent directory. This suggests she retired from commercial art in 1977, at which time she was age sixty-five.
After her retirement Alice Kirkpatrick left NYC, and lived year-round at her second home in Florida.
On February 22, 1984 Muriel Birckhead died at the age of sixty-five in Teaneck, NJ. She never married and she had no children.
On July 16, 1985 Jacqueline Franc died at the age of sixty-seven in Allentown, PA. She never married and she had no children.
On July 16, 1997 Alice Margaret Kirkpatrick died at the age of eighty-four in Florida. She never married and she had no children.
© David Saunders 2016