Jerome George Rozen was born October 16, 1895 in Chicago. His parents were Mary and Vaclav James Rozen, who had both immigrated in the 1860s from Bohemia (the Czech Republic). The father was a saloon keeper. There were six children in the family, including Jerome's twin brother, George. The twins were the youngest. The Rozen family lived at 1317 West 18th Street.
In 1899, the Rozens left the Chicago tenements and moved to Arizona for the health of their eldest son, James (16), who had contracted tuberculosis. They lived at 824 West Birch Avenue in Flagstaff. The father found work as a house carpenter for a building contractor. In 1902 brother James died from TB.
In 1910 the Rozens moved back to Chicago and lived at 1616 Washington Avenue. The father worked at a carpentry shop, the three older sisters worked as secretaries, and the 15 year old twins attended high school.
After their graduation in 1914 the Rozen family returned to Arizona again, where the father had better business opportunities in the home building industry. George found work as a telegrapher at Western Union, while Jerome began to take classes from a local art teacher.
In 1918 Jerome was drafted into the Army for the World War and was stationed in France. He was recorded to be five-ten, slender build, with fair complexion, blue-grey eyes and reddish blonde hair.
After the armistice in 1919 he was at liberty to visit the Louvre Museum in Paris. After returning home he decided to attend the Art Institute of Chicago. He graduated in 1921 and by 1923 he was hired as an art instructor. During one semester he even taught his twin brother, George, who had decided to follow Jerome into commercial art.
While in art school Jerome met his wife, Della K., of Chicago. They married in 1923 and moved to New York City and rented an apartment for $56 a month at 181 West 238th Street in the Bronx, which was on the southern edge of scenic Van Cortlandt Park. Their daughter Helen was born in 1925 and their son Jerome Jr. was born in 1928.
Jerome Rozen rode the local IRT subway every day twenty-six stops straight south to his art studio in Manhattan's Flatiron District at 163 West 23rd Street.
His first published assignments were interior pen and ink story illustrations for Fawcett's Triple-X Magazine. His first pulp covers were for Battle Stories, Complete Stories, Over The Top, The Popular Magazine, War Birds, and Western Story.
In 1931 he painted the four earliest original pulp magazine covers for The Shadow, but starting with the January 1932 issue he was suddenly replaced by his brother George, who went on to become The Shadow's more renowned cover artist, while Jerome branched out into the more lucrative and prestigious fields of advertising and slick magazine illustration. He worked for such magazines as Country Home, Boy's Life, Good Housekeeping, Liberty, Pictorial Review, Redbook, and The Saturday Evening Post.
When the George Washington Bridge opened in 1931 the Rozens moved to New Jersey, because properties were nice and it was a better place to raise kids. They bought a home at 150 Rockwood Place, Englewood, which was only six blocks from the bridge's exit ramp. Each day Della drove Jerome to a bus stop at the entrance to the bridge where he caught the bus over to the 181st Street IRT subway stop, and then rode down to 23rd Street. In this way his subway commute was seven stops shorter than before.
During the morning rush hour on April 23, 1938, while driving her husband to the bus stop, a truck loaded with clams and oysters was sideswiped by a bus and knocked onto its side, blocking all traffic in both directions. Mrs. Rozen hit the overturned truck and four other cars piled up behind her. Only the Rozen car was seriously damaged. Patrolman Royal Slaughter was first on the scene, because he had been a passenger of the bus that caused the crash. He administered first-aid to the Rozens and then called an ambulance. Della Rozen died in the hospital the next day. Jerome Rozen sustained severe injuries that required six months of hospital care and left him with permanent physical disabilities, most noticeably in his left leg. During the recuperation, his two children went to live with George and his wife on Long Island, where daughter Helen (13) and son Jerome (10) stayed for ten months before Jerome's recovery permitted him to resume parental responsibilities.
By 1942 Rozen had been out of the fast-paced slick magazine market for four years. He was finally able to re-start his career by painting pulp covers for Western Aces, Mystery Magazine, Ten Detective Aces, Wings, Thrilling Adventures, and 10-Story Detective.
During the Second World War Rozen was too old and unfit for military service, but he still contributed to the war effort by creating many patriotic posters and magazine advertisements. The most poignant of which was a poster to avoid unnecessary driving, which is painted in the likeness of his beloved wife, Della Rozen.
After the war his illustrated advertisements for the Pennsylvania Railroad, C&O Railroad, and Shell Oil appeared regularly in national magazines such as Boy's Life, Look, and Life.
In 1948 he remarried. His second wife was Doris Spiegel.
In 1965 at age 70 Jerome Rozen retired.
In 1978 he was rediscovered by fans of pulp magazines and was commissioned to recreate several of his long-lost classic pulp paintings.
Jerome Rozen died at age of ninety-one in Englewood, NJ, on July 10, 1987.
© David Saunders 2009