Elmer Wexler was born August 14, 1918 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. His father, Morris Harry Wexler, was born 1895 in Roumania and immigrated to America in 1909. His mother, Sarah Wexler, was born 1897 in Russia and immigrated in 1910. His parents married in Bridgeport in 1917. They had three children, of which he was their first born. His sister Blanch was born in 1920 and his brother Arthur was born in 1914. The family lived at 745 Maplewood Avenue. His father was a tailor.
In 1928 they moved to 633 Colorado Avenue.
In 1935 he graduated from Bridgeport High School, after which he attended the Pratt Institute School of Fine and Applied Arts. His classmates included, Ed Delavy, Howard Munce, and Gerald McCann. His art teachers were Monte Crews, John Fleming Gould, and H. Winfield Scott.
On June 9, 1938 he was awarded a certificate degree from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. The art department of the school at that time was not accredited to offer a college Bachelor degree.
In 1938 he began to draw pen and ink interior story illustrations for pulp magazines. His work appeared in All Sports, Super Sports, Sports Fiction, Sports Winners, Private Detective, Leading Western, and Western Story.
He also drew comic books for DC Comics, Quality Comics, Better Publications, and Archie Publications.
In 1942 he created the comic strip Vic Jordan with ghost writer "Tom Paine" for PM magazine, an innovative and enlightened leftist periodical.
On April 22, 1942 he enlisted in the Marine Corps for military service in WWII. He was trained as a lineman, and then attached to a combat unit as a field artist.
When he entered the service Paul Norris took over Vic Jordan at first, but when he was drafted the strip was drawn by David H. Moneypenny.
In January 1943 Elmer Wexler was sent overseas to the South Pacific as a combat artist. He was among the first such artists stationed with combat troops on battle-scarred Guadalcanal, where he saw action. He also later participated in the attack on Bougainville and Torokina Island. He left Bougainville on November 6, 1943 on P.T. Boat 167, which underwent a torpedo and strafing attack by twelve Japanese planes in Empress Augusta Bay. In the ensuing battle he witnessed and took part in the destruction of five enemy planes.
While still in military service he created a series of instructional watercolors on the Japanese jungle tactics.
On November 10, 1943 his sketches were included in a group exhibition, entitled Marines Under Fire, at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, after which the show toured to other museums and art galleries throughout the country.
In December 1943 he was ordered to join a group of war veterans with patriotic and inspiring stories of heroism to sell war bonds with the "Hollywood Bond Battalion" on a tour of American movie theaters with screen personalities, such as Albert Dekker and Helen Walkers.
In September of 1944 he married Mae Hillman. She was born in August 1922 in Connecticut. They had several children.
After the war he went into advertising. He worked as a staff artist at the Johnstone & Cushing Advertising Agency from 1945 until 1959.
In 1946 he illustrated the book Michael's Victory by Clara Judson for Houghton Mifflin.
1949 Penguin Books published his G.I. Sketchbook, edited by Aimee Crane.
He illustrated stories for Life Magazine.
During the 1950s he created several album covers for Grand Award Records.
In October 1966 he rented office space at 279 East 44th Street, where he edited and published Dimensions In Living, an innovative monthly magazine for small-town suburbanites. His wife, Mae Hillman Wexler, was the art director. He had financial backing from McGraw-Hill. 3,800,000 copies were distributed every month as a syndicated supplement in 372 nationwide newspapers. The magazine folded after only three months, because he failed to sell enough advertising to cover production costs.
On January 19, 1972 he and his wife were divorced.
In 1974 he married his second wife, Pauline Wexler. They lived at 66 Bermuda Road in Westport, CT.
In 1992 he lived at 53 September Lane in Westport, CT.
He lived at 49 White Birch Road in Westport, CT.
During the 1980s he illustrated many instructional sports books, such as 101 Ways to Win at Golf, published by Golf Digest in 1980, The Complete Racquet Sports Player, published by Simon & Schuster in 1983, and The Spalding Book of Rules, published by McGraw-Hill in 1998.
Elmer Wexler died at the age of eighty-nine in Connecticut on October 3, 2007.
© David Saunders 2012