Gard, Alex

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Born in Kazan, Russia in 1900, Gard emigrated to the United States in 1924. Perhaps Gard's most famous works are his caricatures of Broadway celebrities for the walls of Sardi's restaurant, for which he was paid in meals. His drawings also appeared in The New York Herald Tribune's drama section. Gard died in New York City en route to the hospital in 1948.

From the description of Alex Gard caricatures, ca. 1926-1948. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 704263909

From the guide to the Alex Gard caricatures, ca. 1926-1948, (The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.)

Sardi's restaurant opened on March 5, 1927. For Vincent Sardi (Melchiorre Pio Vincenza Sardi) and his wife, Eugenia "Jenny" Pallera Sardi, this was their second restaurant. They had originally, in 1921, opened a restaurant at 146 West 44th Street called the Little Restaurant (named for the Winthrop Ames' Little Theater next door, now the new Helen Hayes Theater). It lasted until 1926. A year later they opened their new restaurant, Sardi's, that stands today in the same spot at 234 West 44th Street in which it opened in 1927.

A group of columnists and press agents began meeting at Sardi's every day for lunch. They were dubbed the Cheese Club. A member of this club, press agent Irving Hoffman, brought Alex Gard to meet this Cheese Club. Alex Gard was born Alexis Kremoff in Kazan, Russia. Gard had fled Russia after the Revolution and went to Bulgaria, France and, finally, to the United States. He had drawn caricatures of his commanding officers in the Russian Imperial Naval Academy and had had the occasional caricature published in Le Matin in France during his stay in that country. In France, he began calling himself Alex Garde, as in en garde. Through a typo in Le Matin, Alex Garde became Alex Gard, the name he took with him to America. At Sardi's, he drew caricatures of the Cheese Club, which Vincent Sardi put on the walls of Sardi's restaurant, thus beginning the long tradition that continues until today.

Vincent Sardi wanted to imitate a Paris restaurant, Zelli's, that placed caricatures on the walls of the restaurant. Sardi and Gard signed a contract that provided a meal a day in Sardi's for Alex Gard in return for his caricatures. It was stipulated that Sardi could not complain about the caricatures and Gard could not complain about the food. The first caricature under this agreement was bandleader and comedian, Ted Healy (the man who brought the Three Stooges together). Alex Gard became known as the little man from Sardi's who put big noses on big people. He also worked as a regular theatrical caricaturist for the New York Herald Tribune, trying out many of his caricatures in print before doing the one that would be placed on Sardi's walls. The only gap in production of these caricatures was during the period of World War II when Alex Gard was in the navy. Alex Gard died in 1948 after collapsing at the Times Square subway station. He had drawn 720 caricatures for the walls of Sardi's during his reign as their official caricaturist.

It took a couple of years before Vincent Sardi selected John Mackey to replace Alex Gard. He did not last long as Vincent Sardi was not impressed with his caricatures.

Jack Kirkland (who wrote the stage version of Tobacco Road ) recommended his son-in-law, Don Bevan, who had just lost his job at Eagle Lion Films. Bevan had drawn caricatures of enlisted men for the combat room during his time in the service. War correspondent, Walter Cronkite, had fed these drawings to his wire service. Bevan was shot down and imprisoned in Stalag 17, where along with fellow prisoner, Edmund Trzcinski, he wrote the play, Stalag 17 . They later adapted this play, written for the prison camp, for the New York stage. At Eagle Lion Films, Bevan had created poster art and lobby cards after the war before meeting with Vincent Sardi.

His first caricature for Sardi's, in the early fifties, was Denholm Elliot. Bevan turned out approximately a caricature a month for Sardi's. He also worked for the Daily News and the Baltimore Sun during this time. He retired as Sardi's caricaturist in 1974.

Richard Baratz replaced Don Bevan after a public competition. The Sardi's caricature collection at the Billy Rose Theatre Division does not, as yet, include any examples of the work of Richard Baratz.

From the guide to the Sardi's (Restaurant) caricatures, 1927-1952?, (The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Samuel and Bella Spewack Papers, ca.1920-1980 Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library,
referencedIn Sardi's (Restaurant). Sardi's (Restaurant) caricatures, 1927-1952?. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Sardi's (Restaurant) caricatures, 1927-1952? The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
creatorOf Dunn, Bob, 1908-1989. David Burns caricatures, 1948 and n.d. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Gard, Alex. Alex Gard caricatures, ca. 1926-1948. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Spewack, Samuel and Bella. Papers, ca.1920-1980. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Alex Gard caricatures, ca. 1926-1948 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Al Capp person
associatedWith Alfred Drake person
associatedWith Arthur Margetson person
associatedWith Arthur Murray person
associatedWith Bessie Love person
associatedWith Bevan, Donald person
associatedWith Cantor, Eddie, 1892-1964. person
associatedWith D. W. Griffith person
associatedWith Ed Sullivan person
associatedWith George Jessel person
associatedWith Helen Keller person
associatedWith Hepburn, Katharine, 1907-2003. person
associatedWith Lahr, Bert, 1895-1967. person
associatedWith Lorenz Hart person
associatedWith Mackey, John person
associatedWith Merman, Ethel. person
associatedWith Paula Wayne person
associatedWith Paul Muni person
associatedWith Peter Lorre person
associatedWith Royle, Selena, 1904-1983 person
associatedWith Sardi's (Restaurant) corporateBody
associatedWith Sothern, Ann, 1909- person
associatedWith Spewack, Samuel, 1899-1971 person
associatedWith Spewack, Samuel and Bella. person
associatedWith Tamara Geva person
associatedWith Texas Guinan person
associatedWith Tito Schipa person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
New York (State)--New York
Subject
Theater critics--New York (State)--New York
Theater critics
Actors--Caricatures and cartoons
Entertainers--New York (State)--New York--Caricatures and cartoons
Actresses--Caricatures and cartoons
Actors ǂz United States ǂv Caricatures and cartoons
Restaurants--Decoration
Actresses ǂz United States ǂv Caricatures and cartoons
Theater--Caricatures and cartoons
Theater ǂz United States ǂv Caricatures and cartoons
Occupation
Artists
Function

Person

Birth 1900

Death 1948-06-01

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