Malcolm Hadden Smith was born on November 1, 1910 in Memphis, Tennessee. His father, Horace Neely Smith, was born in 1881 in Memphis. His mother, Mary Boyd, was born in 1886 in Memphis. His parents were married in 1907 and they had two children. His older brother Hammond was born in 1908. They lived at 1468 Vance Avenue in Memphis. His father was the manager of a compressed oxygen company.
He went to high school in Memphis. It is perhaps significant that his next door neighbor, Miss Thelma C. Johnston, was an art teacher. Along with an interest in art he was also an award winning competitor in statewide archery championships.
In 1928 he graduated high school and then studied at Southwestern Junior College in Memphis until 1932.
In 1934 he moved to Chicago to study at the American Academy of Art. During this time he earned his living as a woodworker at a furniture factory. Two years later he studied at the Art Institute of Chicago.
By 1936 he was earning income through a Chicago art agency, Bendelow & Associates, producing freelance illustrations for newspaper advertisements.
On October 3, 1937 he married Dorothy Lucille Nofs. She was born July 28, 1916 in Chicago. They had three children, Donald, Gregory, and Sonia.
No records have been found regarding the status of his military service during WWII.
In 1944 his first illustrations appeared in pulp magazines. These were mostly pen & ink interior story illustrations for Amazing Stories, Mammoth Detective, Mammoth Mystery, and Mammoth Western. These pulp magazines were all published by the Chicago-based company, Ziff-Davis. He worked so closely with this company that he was even promoted to Art Director at Ziff-Davis in 1949.
He also painted covers for Bantam Books, Century Books, Shasta Books, and the digest Zane Grey's Western Magazine.
During the 1950s he illustrated many digest-sized sci-fi magazines, such as Other Worlds Science Stories, Imagination, Imaginative Tales, and Imagination Science Fiction. These were produced by another Chicago-based publisher, the Greenleaf Company, which had split off from Ziff-Davis in 1950 when they decided to relocate to NYC.
In 1959 he and his family moved to Hunstville, Alabama, where he worked as a staff artist for NASA at the Marshall Space Flight Center.
Along with Frederick Blakeslee and Ed Valigursky, Malcolm H. Smith was one of a few pulp artists whose career evolved from illustrating science fiction fantasies for popular culture publications to helping actual scientists visualize their experimental endeavors.
Malcolm Hadden Smith died of a brain tumor at the age of fifty-five on June 11, 1966.
© David Saunders 2009