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Bernard Schoenbaum, 1920-2010
posted May 14, 2010


Bernard "Bernie" Schoenbaum, an artist, teacher, cartoonist and prolific contributor to the New Yorker for nearly three decades, passed away on May 7.

Schoenbaum was born and raised in New York City. His family bounced back and forth between Manhattan and the Bronx. He received his art education at Parsons School of design. He worked for decades as a freelance advertising illustrator. He sold his first cartoon to The New Yorker in 1974 at about the two-thirds point of the William Shawn era of the magazine, when the publication was still for readers coast to coast the print equivalent of what NPR would one day become: a ubiquitous window into culture and politics as seen through big-city eyes. He would continue to provide cartoons, which usually depended on some instance of visual whimsy upon which the text bounced in some odd direction, through its transformation into a more general prestige magazine.

Schoenbaum placed more than 400 cartoons in the magazine. He also pursued a variety of artistic interests in life drawing and painting, the results of which were sold to private collectors. His final cartoon for the New Yorker appeared in 2002.

In his later years, he split time between New York and Florida with his wife, Rhoda. A comment left at Mike Lynch's site indicates the cartoonist needed some level of outside care in later years. He is survived by a wife of 62 years, Rhoda, three daughters and a granddaughter, and was preceded in death by a brother, Samuel, one of the great Shakespearean scholars of his generation. the artistic Schoenbaum would only do one Shakespeare-related cartoon, in 1995, but it's one of the more memorable cartoons from that magazine in the 1990s.