An American caricaturist and commercial artist, he began his artistic career while in high school, working for the Hartford Courant. He later received formal training at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and then went to work for the Newark Star Eagle. During this time he became proficient in the airbrush technique, using it to produce caricatures. His work for the Newark Star Eagle attracted considerable attention and commissions for theater magazines, Broadway reviews, film posters, and theater curtains soon followed. He originated the medium of clay caricatures photographically reproduced for Life Magazine, and used the same technique to design Esky, the mustachioed dandy who for years served as trademark and cover boy for Esquire Magazine. His work also appeared in such other major periodicals as Today, Redbook, Liberty, and Fortune.
As a commercial artist, Berman created a notable series of advertisements for Ballantine Ale. During the late 1930s and 1940s he continued working as a caricaturist, including those he drew for King Features Syndicate between 1935 and 1940. He also contributed political cartoons in watercolor and a series of caricatures featuring Nazi leaders entitled The Guilty, to Collier's magazine.
During World War II Berman served for three years as an artist in the Graphics Unit of the OSS in India and Burma. After his discharge, Collier's hired him to produce another series of caricatures, this time of radio celebrities. Berman also created caricatures for such periodicals as Lithopinion and Atlantic, before retiring and moving to Spain in 1971.
Bibl.: Feaver, Masters of Caricature; "Sam Berman & Selections from a Recent Sketchbook," Cartoonist Profiles, December, 1981.
Library of Congress, the Caroline and Erwin Swann Collection of Caricature and Cartoon
Information courtesy of Sara W. Duke, Curator, Popular & Applied Graphic Art Prints & Photographs Division