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Right from page two of the very first issue—on which "the Rabbit" appeared—illustrators have been important to Playboy. Held in high esteem by Editors and Readers alike their contribution to the success of the magazine was there from the very beginning.
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  Joaquin Alberto Vargas y Chavez (9 February 1896 – 30 December 1982)
Illustrious illustrator

Known as Alberto Vargas he was born in Arequipa, Peru in 1896 and is probably the most famous of the pin-up artists. His paintings regularly sell for many thousands of pounds and have been printed millions of times.

When the outbreak of World War I forced him to leave his studies in Europe and head for home a stop
off in New York City would change his life - he stayed in the United States.

Early in his career he worked as an artist for the Ziegfeld Follies and many Hollywood studios which included featuring a near-naked Zita Johann, in a pose of desperation, on the poster for the 1933 film The Sin of Nora Moran.

In the 1940s he became famous as the creator of the iconic World War II era "Varga Girl" pin-ups. From March 1944, until the end of the war, Esquire ran these on the back cover of the military version of the magazine, many of which ended up copied as nose art on World War II aircraft.

After Esquire had a debacle with "The US Post Office", over its second-class mailing permit - which was central to it's business model, the art of Vargas was dropped. This being even though they had taken the objection The Feds had had to Alberto's work all the way to the US Supreme Court, and won. There then followed a legal dispute between Alberto and Esquire over the use of the name "Varga", which Alberto lost.

He then struggled financially until Hugh Hefner, the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Playboy, who had previously worked for Esquire, began to use his work regularly from 1960. With this exposure to a new audience Alberto's career once again flourished. Major exhibitions of his work followed as did new patrons from the upper echelon of the USA's entertainment world of the time, the heads of every major film studio and Editors and Publishers from across the print media.

Devastated by the death, in 1974, of Anna Mae, his wife, muse, model and business manager he stopped painting. A renewed interest in his work in 1978, upon the publication of his autobiography, brought him partially out of his self-imposed retirement to do just a few more works

He died of a stroke on 30 December 1982, at the age of 86


"Just as this invisible shield protects me ..."
"Then the patient in Room 12 turned around and tried to give me an alcohol rub."
"It's your wife. Shall I ask her not to bother you during business hours?"
"Please stop staring. When I blush, I blush all over."