THE UNKNOWN ROCKWELL:

A Portrait Of Two American Families

Media Room


QUIXOTIC ENDEAVORS OPTIONS “THE UNKNOWN  
                                             

ROCKWELL: A PORTRAIT OF TWO AMERICAN FAMIILIES” -

THE STORY OF NORMAN ROCKWELL’S YEARS IN VERMONT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 

(New York, NY – January 15, 2014) Amidst the current heated controversy over who Norman Rockwell really was and what his art truly depicted, Quixotic Endeavors has optioned the feature film rights for a book chronicling America’s most beloved artist during his Vermont years, “The Unknown Rockwell: A Portrait Of Two American Families,” co-authored by James “Buddy” Edgerton and Nan O’Brien. The feature film to be entitled, Our Neighbor, Norman is currently in development. 

The announcement, made jointly today by Quixotic Endeavors and “The Unknown Rockwell” publisher Battenkill River Press, a division of FAN Entertainment & Media, LLC, is a welcome breath of fresh air for fans of Norman Rockwell in light of a recent book by Deborah Solomon containing sexual innuendo and allegations in reference to both Norman Rockwell’s character and symbolism in his art. The Rockwell Family Agency and those who personally knew Norman Rockwell - including Buddy Edgerton, Norman’s next-door neighbor from 1943 to 1953 – have summarily refuted those allegations publicly.  

Says Our Neighbor, Norman producer and screenwriter Matthew Miele, “Buddy’s story of living next door to Norman for ten years, during which time Buddy and his parents, grandmother, and siblings all modeled for Norman, provides an intimate understanding of Norman and the world in which Norman lived and illustrated that is unparalleled. The story takes place during the most prolific time of Rockwell’s career, including ‘The Four Freedoms,’ ‘Rosie the Riveter,’ ‘Breaking Home Ties,’ and many of the Saturday Evening Post covers. Buddy Edgerton, now 84 years old, was not only Norman’s next door neighbor, he was also a Rockwell model and best friend to the Rockwell sons. He is a priceless discovery with an encyclopedic knowledge of Rockwell, as well as his family, his creative process, and what drove Norman to work so relentlessly. With Buddy as an eyewitness and participant to this historical time, audiences will see Rockwell in a rare light, free from the confines of a typical biography, and – most importantly – preserved with a truthful testimony of a person who not only knew the artist, but knew the man and the family. I am excited to have the opportunity to bring the story of ‘The Unknown Rockwell’ to the screen.” 

“The Unknown Rockwell” co-author Nan O’Brien stated, “Both Buddy and I are thrilled that Matthew Miele and the team at Quixotic Endeavors are bringing our heartwarming story to Rockwell’s innumerable fans. Buddy and the Rockwell sons – Jerry, Tom, and Peter - are still friends more than seven decades after becoming friends and neighbors. We know that the story will fascinate, engage, and uplift audiences who love Norman Rockwell and his massive contribution to our culture, a love affair with the public that clearly continues to this day.” 

The news of the upcoming feature film comes at a time when Rockwell’s iconic illustration, “Saying Grace,” was sold for a record-setting $46 million at a Sotheby’s auction on December 4, 2013. Two other Rockwell illustrations were also sold at the auction, bringing the total for the day to $58 million.  

Both Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, the two largest private collectors of Norman Rockwell art, credit Rockwell with their interest in becoming storytellers in film.

 About Screenwriter Matthew Miele 

Matthew Miele is a writer/director and Founder of Quixotic Endeavors, a multimedia production company focusing on subjects with an iconic theme. Following his most recent box office hit, Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s, the 2013 breakthrough documentary about the world-renowned fashion emporium, Miele is currently in production on the officially authorized documentary of Tiffany & Co.

Miele has most recently signed on to write and direct the officially authorized documentary about New York’s unrivaled and signature Carlyle Hotel. Future projects include documenting the world’s most iconic photographer, Harry Benson, as well as the legendary Air Studios founded by record producer Sir George Martin on the island of Montserrat. 

To see photos and a brief video about the upcoming film, please visit  Our Neighbor, Norman 

www.QuixoticEndeavors.com 

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/QuixoticEndeavors  

 

About “The Unknown Rockwell: A Portrait Of Two American Families” 

“The Unknown Rockwell: A Portrait Of Two American Families” is the memoir of James “Buddy” Edgerton, who grew up next door to the Rockwell Family in West Arlington, Vermont from 1943 – 1953. It contains personal family photographs of the Edgerton and Rockwell families that have never been seen before. The book also contains many photographs from the Edgerton Family’s modeling sessions for Norman, side-by-side with the illustrations Rockwell created from those photos, including the four Boy Scout covers for which Buddy modeled. Said Jarvis Rockwell about Buddy, “He was the closest living thing to what I would have liked to have been…like a Greek hero.”

“The Unknown Rockwell” was launched at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts on October 8, 2009. At the time, Stephanie Plunkett, Deputy Director and Chief Curator of Norman Rockwell Museum, said "Buddy Edgerton's memoir offers a compelling glimpse of Norman Rockwell’s Arlington. It is a warm reflection on the lives and times of beloved neighbors and friends who were immortalized in Rockwell’s art. We are honored to host the launch of Buddy Edgerton's personal narrative, and to share it with what will surely be an appreciative public."

www.TheUnknownRockwell.com
 

For more information, please contact:

Matthew Miele, Producer and Screenwriter, Our Neighbor, Norman, Quixotic Endeavors – matthewm@QuixoticEndeavors.com  

Tom Bernheim, Publicity Coordinator, FAN Entertainment & Media, The Unknown Rockwell: A Portrait Of Two American Families – tbernheim@FANEntertainment.net

 

 

 

 



Former Vermont Governor Jim Douglas congratulates Buddy Edgerton and Nan O'Brien on the launching of The Unknown Rockwell: A Portrait of Two American Families which took place at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, on October 11, 2009.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Press contact:

Jeremy Clowe
Manager of Media Services
jclowe@nrm.org; 413.298.4100, ext. 290

Norman Rockwell Museum Celebrates 100 Years of The Boy Scouts of America

Stockbridge, MA, October 8, 2010 - As a young artist, one of Norman Rockwell's first high-profile jobs was being commissioned by the Boy Scouts of America to illustrate its "Hike Book" in the fall of 1912; shortly after, Rockwell was appointed art editor of "Boy's Life" and went on to create memorable cover and story illustrations for the youth development organization's publication. Grateful for this opportunity and early exposure, Rockwell maintained a 64 year association with the Scouts, generating close to 500 images for the organization's calendars, magazine covers, stories, recruiting posters, and guidebooks. This year marks the 100 year anniversary of The Boy Scouts of America, and Norman Rockwell Museum will present a special afternoon celebrating the organization and its long-time connection to Norman Rockwell, on Saturday, October 23, from 12 to 4 p.m.

The afternoon kicks off with an appearance from James A. "Buddy"Edgerton, Norman Rockwell's next-door neighbor in Arlington, Vermont during the 1940s and early 1950s. Edgerton, who posed for many of Rockwell's best-known Boy Scouts images, will be joined by author Nan O'Brien to discuss their book "The Unknown Rockwell: A Portrait of Two American Families," with a book signing to follow.

At 2 p.m., meet official Boy Scouts artist Joe Csatari and his son, "Men's Health"
editor Jeff Csatari, who will present an illustrated talk and discussion about their recent book "Norman Rockwell's Boy Scouts of America;" Joe Csatari will share his memories of working with Rockwell during his early years with The Boy Scouts. Special gallery talks and a discussion of the exhibition "Norman Rockwell and The Boy Scouts of America" will be provided throughout the day, and Scout troops will have the opportunity to earn their own Rockwell Award Patch through a number of challenging art activities. Admission to the event is $20 per scout troop, and free for all others with regular Museum admission. For more information, please call 413.298.4100.

"Norman Rockwell and The Boy Scouts of America" Through November 27, 2010
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You’ve Seen Their Faces in the Works of Rockwell


© Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times: A reunion of models who sat for Norman Rockwell at the St. James Episcopal Church in Arlington, Vt., on Saturday

ARLINGTON, VT. — They were plucked from Grange halls, school dances and the town green, regular people whose faces, by the brushstrokes of a neighbor, would come to embody Americana.

— They were plucked from Grange halls, school dances and the town green, regular people whose faces, by the brushstrokes of a neighbor, would come to embody Americana.

For more than a decade — between going to school and playing, working and cooking — residents of this southwestern Vermont town worked as models for Norman Rockwell. For $5, they would spend a few hours posing, their young faces forever captured in calendars, greeting cards and paintings.

Rockwell left Arlington in 1953, and many of his child models grew up and followed suit. But on Saturday, dozens returned for a celebration of Rockwell, a reunion of grown models in the small town that set the stage for some of his most iconic works.

“This is an old-home reunion for a lot of us,” said Ardis Edgerton Clark, who lived next door to the Rockwell family and befriended them. “A lot of the models are gone. It’s the kids who are left. I’m talking as the kid who is 76 now.”

Ms. Clark remembers posing for about a half-dozen Rockwell works, including “Homecoming G.I.,” where she and other children spent a day “on the porch of a brick tenement with my mouth wide open,” a soldier holding a duffel bag approaching.

Rockwell would “act out the part he wanted you to act, and he would show the expression,” Ms. Clark said. A photographer was always on hand and took numerous pictures, which Mr. Rockwell would refer to while painting.

“We’d have our mouths open and our tongues out and our eyes squinting,” Ms. Clark said. “And he’d be doing it right along with me.”

The Rockwell family, by all accounts, fit seamlessly into this town that, along with its farms and tradesmen, had become an artists’ colony. Rockwell and his wife, Mary, had three sons who attended school, and Mary was like a second mother to Ms. Clark, who worked in the family home throughout high school.

“I’d polish sterling silver,” Ms. Clark said. “I’d never seen a sterling silver piece, yet they were such down-to-earth people and blended into our little community.”

Rockwell was very involved in the town Grange and would volunteer to wax and sweep the floor after town dances, said Clarence Decker, another former model.

Rockwell “used to make the comment that he liked to sell tickets at the dances because he was very interested in people’s hands, and also their faces and whatever else he would watch as he was passing out tickets,” Mr. Decker said. “He was thinking about his next picture.”

Mr. Rockwell likely used thousands of everyday people as models while living and working here and in Stockbridge, Mass., said Laurie Norton Moffatt, curator of the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, where Mr. Rockwell moved in the 1950s. Mr. Rockwell also illustrated while living in New Rochelle, N.Y., but used commercial models, she said.

The museum holds model reunions each year and has recorded oral histories with at least 80 men and women who posed. Saturday’s gathering, in St. James Episcopal Church here, was the first time the Vermont models got together.

“It’s a defining moment in what makes them who they are,” said Jessika Drmacich, an archivist at the museum.

While Mr. Rockwell took certain characteristics of his models — the particular curve of a smile or width of ears — his illustrations and paintings were highly staged, models and Ms. Moffatt said. Mr. Rockwell would often photograph each model individually and add them to a painting. Sometimes he would take features of one individual, a strong arm or prominent nose, and paint or draw them on another person. For “Going and Coming,” for example, he photographed Ms. Clark’s grandmother sitting in a chair, then painted her riding in a car.

“He was casting and directing,” Ms. Moffatt said. “Each person would pose by themselves and be put together like a collage.”

Don Trachte, who helped organize Saturday’s reunion, posed only once.

“I was a pain in the neck, and evidently I was acting up,” said Mr. Trachte, who ended up on the cover of Child Life Magazine and some Hallmark Christmas cards. “I had to pose holding the hand of a girl.

“That was the end of my career,” he said. “I wasn’t invited back.”

Saturday’s event was held during the annual Norman’s Attic event here, a crafts fair and celebration of Rockwell’s life. The Rockwells raised their sons in this town, and Mary Rockwell, many said, was a maternal figure who would invite children into the home and shuttle models around town.

“Mary was my second mom,” Ms. Clark said. Her brother, James, known as Buddy, and a co-author, Nan O’Brien, wrote a book about living next to the Rockwells, “The Unknown Rockwell: A Portrait of Two American Families.”

The families grew extremely close, with Rockwell loaning the Edgertons money (which was promptly repaid) for a cow and the Edgertons watching the three Rockwell boys when their parents were out of town. Rockwell often asked the Edgertons for their opinions, especially during the posing session for “The Long Shadow of Lincoln.” Mr. Edgerton even helped Rockwell build his studio.

Mr. Decker said he remembered skipping school for a few days to pose for Rockwell, something no one minded. His father also posed, as the boxer in “The Sharpshooter” and as a sailor. Mr. Rockwell started to give the sailor the tattoo “Belle,” Mr. Decker’s mother’s name, but she balked and it became “Betty,” he said.

“We had a written excuse when Norman would call and say, ‘Mary will be there at such and such a time,’ ” Mr. Decker said. “As a kid I didn’t make much of it. Today I’m kind of proud that I had done that.”

A version of this article appeared in print on August 8, 2010, on page A11 of the New York edition.