Robert Edward McGinnis was born in Cincinnati in 1926 and grew
up in rural Wyoming, Ohio. His artistic talent was first encouraged
by his dad, "Dutch," who helped his son draw such things as his
favorite cartoon character, Popeye. Later, despite Robert's complaint
that he would rather play ball with his friends (he was athletically
talented and keenly competitive), Robert's mother, Mildred, insisted
that he attend a drawing class held on Saturdays at the Cincinnati
Art Museum. After high school, McGinnis hitchhiked to California
and worked as an apprentice at Walt Disney Studios, drawing Mickey
Mouse and other characters and learning about cartoon animation.
Then World War II interrupted production of animated films, so McGinnis
returned home and studied fine art at Ohio State University and
took night classes at the Central Academy of Commercial Art. He
also played the position of left guard on OSU's football team. In
the mid-Fifties he moved to New York City with his wife Ferne, who
is also talented, artistically and musically. (They subsequently
had three children, and they have lived in Connecticut since 1960.)
McGinnis went to work creating advertising posters at the Fredman-Chaite
Studios. One day by chance he was introduced to an agent by a fellow
artist. The agent took McGinnis's samples to book publisher Dell.
As a result, McGinnis was able to shift his career into high gear,
and in the ensuing decades he produced an astounding body of top-quality,
highly expressive illustrations and fine art paintings.