Friday 12 February 2010

Frank Bellamy and Patricia McCormick bullfighter

Taken from Men Only March 1955

In his interview with Dez Skinn and Dave Gibbons Bellamy mentions he illustrated stories in Men Only, which produces a laugh, as the interviewers think of the risqué 'top-shelf' magazine which Paul Raymond bought from Leonard Matthews in 1971. But as Bellamy explained, they're thinking of the 1970s magazine, not the one he drew for in the 1950s!

Recently I was looking through Picture Post magazines from the 1950s, looking for information and art on my other passion, Raymond Sheppard, and came across some photos of a bullfighter (27 September 1952).
Nothing unusual there, but it was a woman bullfighter that was being highlighted. Her name was Patricia McCormick. I remembered one of the Men Only illustrations was of Ms McCormick.

The accompanying caption in Picture Post reads:
"Perhaps 22 year old American girl Pat McCormick was teethed on Papa Hemingway; perhaps she just resented male monopoly of a dangerous trade. Whatever the reason she abandoned brush and palette for cape and sword - the art of painting for the art of killing. Now, in Mexico, in bright sanded ring instead of college campus, she practices technique and dreams of the bulls to die. The reward? Dust in honey-blonde hair, blood on the blade, a black bull dead at her feet - and the crowd's roar."

Cover of Men Only March 1955

In the March 1955 issue of Men Only, McCormick wrote the article "Alone she fights the bull……." which included some of her drawings but also Bellamy's. On pages 85 and 89 we see the two black and white illustrations of McCormick as Matadora fighting a bull and McCormick being thrown by the bull. Both, you will notice are signed 'Bellamy' in a cursive style - whereas his later signature became more flat and linear, matching, in my opinion his more graphical style .

Men Only p.85

Men Only p.89

The article by Patricia McCormick has not only Bellamy's accompanying drawings but also photographs of McCormick. None of Bellamy's drawings are based on the photos, but one wonders if he had reference material beyond shots of bullfighters. Here he shows a woman, is it based on Pat McCormick photos? To be honest it doesn't matter as the original publication fitted inside a pocket and was printed on cheap paper.

If you'd like to read more, Michael Gage kindly sent me an article in PDF form from True Woman's Adventures (May 1956, Volume 1 Issue 1) which was published by 148 Publishing Corp, at 147, East 50th Street, New York 22

Serendipity plays a large underrated part in research for this sort of information - note Michael's scans and the Picture Post, but to finish this article I suddenly thought to Google McCormick's name and lo and behold she has a website, where you can see some of her own art as well as a video of her glory days! It works best in Internet Explorer, something I wouldn't usually highlight as I'm a Firefox fan). This lady really did buck the male stereotypes thrust on her in the earlier less enlightened age! Unfortunately the contact link doesn't work but if anyone out there knows Pat I'd love to let her know of this blog entry

And finally I ought to return to Frank Bellamy and say he did a great job too!


Stephanie said...

Thanks for the detailed entry about Patricia McCormick. She is an amazing person and a true artist.

Barbara said...

I saw Patricia McCormick when I was a girl in Juarez..of course I hated to see the killing and the blood but my parents took me and my brother every Sunday to the bullfights.I thought she also rode a horse in the ring.I loved her and Bette Ford and had their autographs (they signed the back of the colorfull tickets)I adored them and wanted to be a bullfighter when I grew up but of course I didn't and I still can remember the music and excitment of those times!Crossing on foot the bridge from El Paso to Juarez walking to the Old Bullring and loving the two cultures of my childhood.

Norman Boyd said...

Thanks Barbara for your thoughts. It amazes me how a blog post can take on a life of its own. This one turns up in my weekly statistics regularly showing how popular she must be!

Helen M. Snyder said...

I just found this site. I went to High School in Big Spring, Texas with Pat. Our last names started with the same letter, we were usually seated together. She was shy. She transferred to Big Spring from St. Louis, Mo. when her father was employed by the then Cosden Refinery (now Alon).Pat and I had the same birthday 11-18, although she was a year older. We were also in the music club together and the chorale. Pat left Big spring when we graduated in 1948. She went to the then College of Mines in El Paso. She was a very good artist.
She became interested in bulls after crossing the border into Mexico. Mom and Dad were not too pleased as Pat was an only child. She passed away last year in Del Rio, Texas.
The Heritage Museum in Big Spring, TX has a video and some of her memorabilia.

Helen M. Snyder said...


Norman Boyd said...

Thanks for writing Helen. I'm sorry to hear of Pat's passing - she must certainly have made an impact in what was perceived as a man's world

Belinda ... said...

My uncle Gerald Byerly met her when he was young and she gave him bull fighting lessons. We have pictures. She commissioned a portrait by him, he was an artist, from the picture from her book. He had painted several of her. I contacted her years ago and she remembered him! ❤ I would love to know if her family still had the painting he did. Sad she is gone.

Norman Boyd said...

Hi Belinda
Thanks for sharing this. I hope someone sees this and makes contact.
best wishes

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