Drawing: Frank Sinatra, Ol’ Blue Eyes

Frank Sinatra001

Francis Albert Sinatra was one of the best selling artists of all time, winning eleven Grammy Awards and a much sought after siggy for a collector. He also won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in From Here to Eternity (1953). Elton John said that Sinatra, “was simply the best – no one else even comes close.”

In July 1974 he visited Oz, after 15 year absence. “A funny thing happened in Australia. I made a mistake and got off the plane,” he said. After calling local female journalists “a buck and a half hookers” and refusing to apologise, the ACTU blacklisted him, which threatened to end the tour. It was only the intervention of Union Chief – and later to become Prime Minister – Bob Hawke to restore normality that meant Sinatra could finish the gigs. He vowed never to return.

However, he was persuaded to do so for a concert in Queensland’s Sanctuary Cove by Clive James on 9 January 1988. I drew this caricature and sent him the original and a couple of copies to be signed at the venue. He kept the original and both copies were returned, signed…. but by who?

The number of autograph requests Sinatra received during the latter part of his career was overwhelming. A succession of secretaries, including Gloria Lovell and Dorothy Ullmen became adept at mimicking his graph and signed many items on behalf of the ‘chairman of the board’. It’s highly likely that this is not handwritten by him… but you never know!

He died in 1998 and written on his gravestone is the inscription, “The Best is Yet to Come

Caricature: Roger Bannister

Roger Bannister

The mile – 1760 yards, 1609.344 metres in metric – is athletic’s blue ribbon event.

At a meet between British AAA and Oxford University on the 6th of May 1954, at Oxford’s Iffley Road Track, Roger Bannister became immortalised.

Once thought impossible, the four minute mile barrier was broken for the first time. When the ground announcer, Norris McWhirter (who would co-publish and co-edit The Guinness  Book of Records) declared “the time was three…” the roar of the 3000 spectators drowned out the details of Bannister’s feat… 3 mins 59.4 seconds.

The early months of 1954 were an intense period of attempts on the sub-four minute mile record, with two athletes getting close. American Wes Santee recorded a 4.02.4 and Australia’s John Landy a 4.02.0 .

Bannister’s record only lasted a short while. His great rival Landy ran 3.57.9 in Finland 46 days later. However, at the 1954 British and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, both men lined up in what was called ‘The Miracle Mile’. After leading for most of the race, Landy was overtaken on the final bend by Bannister, who went on to win the gold in a time of 3.58.8.

The mythical four minute mark has been lowered by almost 17 seconds over the last 50 years. New Zealand’s John Walker was the first man to run 100 sub-four minute miles, finishing with 135 at the end of his career. American Steve Scott broke the four-minute barrier 136 times.

The current world record, held by Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj, running a time of 3.43.13 in Rome in 1999.

In the late 1990’s I interviewed Lord Jeffrey Archer at his London penthouse. He showed me the actual official stopwatch that was used to time Bannister’s historical feat. In 2011 he donated the watch for a charity auction fetching £97,250 for the Oxford University Athletics Club.

After his retirement in 1955, Sir Roger became a distinguished neurologist and Master of Pembroke College, Oxford, where I sent my caricature, which he kindly signed in 1991.

Drawing: Ferg and Macca

ferg + macka001

Speed canoeists Ian Ferguson and Paul MacDonald are New Zealand’s most successful Olympians. ‘Ferg and Macca’ gained New Zealand sporting immortality at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. On the lake Casitas course they were unstoppable, Ian won gold in the K1, K2 and K4 events and Paul in the K2 with Ferg and the K4 along with Grant Bramwell and Alan Thompson.

Both followed up with gold in Seoul (1988) in the K2 500 and a silver in the K4.

There was a suggestion that their results were questionable due to the Eastern block boycott, so the following year they won gold at the World Championships in Belgium, beating crews from Eastern Europe and Russia. They had also beaten all crews leading up to the Olympics in the previous year

Drawing: Peter Snell

peter snell001

Sir Peter Snell is one of New Zealand’s greatest sports achievers – some say the greatest. He was voted New Zealand’s ‘Sports Champion of the 20th Century’ and one of 24 inaugural members of the International Association of Athletics Federation Hall of Fame in 2012.

Sir Peter won three Olympic gold medals; Rome in 1960 800m, Tokyo in 1964 800m and 1500m and two Commonwealth Games titles for the 880 yards and 1 mile in Perth in 1962. He was knighted in 2009.

I sent my caricature to him at the University of Texas in September 1990, and he signed and returned it with an accompanying letter.

peter snell letter001

Drawing: All Round Good Guys Part 2 – Khan and Botham

imran khan001

Imran Khan is Pakistan’s most successful captain, in a career that spanned almost twenty years from 1971-1992. In 88 Test matches he scored 3807 runs, including six centuries, taking 382 wickets.

He is one of only eight players to achieve the all-rounders Test triple – 3000 runs and 300 wickets . He did so in 75 matches, second fastest behind Sir Ian Botham (72).

He retired twice. First after the 1987 World Cup, but due to popular demand he was requested by President Zia ul Haq to return to Captain the team again. At 39, he lead Pakistan to World Cup glory, winning the 1992 Championship, beating England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in the final, then retired again.

An alma mater of Oxford University, Khan entered politics and was a member of the National Assembly (2002-2007). He is also known for his philanthropy, building cancer hospitals and research centres.

In 1996 he faced libel action taken against him by Sir Ian Botham, surrounding ball tampering and associated derogatory comments.

Sir Ian ‘Beefy’ Botham was a genuine all-rounder – a big hitting batsman with a classical straight bat style and a medium paced swing bowler. A controversial figure both on and off the field, Beefy was involved in a number of well-publicised incidents, including a suspension from the National team for smoking cannabis. He also captained England in 12 Tests. His right arm medium bowling resulted in 383 wickets in 102 Tests, accumulating 5,200 runs. He has taken five wickets and scored a century in an innings of a same Test match on five occasions. He still holds the record for the highest number of wickets taken by an English bowler.

A prodigious fund-raiser, he is renowned for his Charity Walks and has raised over £12 million for Leukaemia Research. Sir Ian became Sir Ian in 2007, knighted for services to cricket and cancer charity work.

Imran signed my caricature during Pakistan’s 1988/89 tour of New Zealand. Sir Beefy graphed his in Wellington, when England played New Zealand in the 1992 World Cup at the Basin Reserve.

beefy botham001

Caricature: Barry Humphries

barry humphries

Barry Humphries has a face destined for caricature. I was visiting Sydney in early 1991, actually I was visiting Sydney every year since the late 70’s … but on this particular occasion Barry was performing his solo show, The Life and Death of Sandy Stone – his third most recognised alter-ego behind Dame Edna, the Melbourne housewife with a rampant ego and Sir Les Patterson, cultural attaché to the court of St James. Sandy Stone is the ‘returned gentleman’ – a digger from WWI.

I saw this great pic of Barry in a local rag, so I drew this caricature. I thought, he could keep the original and sign a copy for me… so I sent 4 copies for good measure. I could donate one or two to my favourite charities.

I dropped it off at the Theatre. I’m not sure which one, I think the Philip Street Theatre where Barry had connections since the late 50’s.

Anyway, a week later a parcel arrived back in New Zealand with the copies all signed… as you would expect with a witty twist. This one is simply his sig. On the others – remembering it was a copy of the same sketch – he wrote “I like this one,” “this one’s not me,” and “not a bad likeness”.

I couldn’t get a ticket to his show – sold out – but he is doing a farewell tour, which is headed for London later this year and includes Sandy Stone. So here’s hoping!

Drawing: Dustin Hoffman in The Merchant of Venice

Dustin Hoffman001

Known for his versatile portrayal of antiheroes and vulnerable characters, two-time Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman took on the challenging role of ‘Shylock’ in Peter Hall’s production of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice in London’s West End. After a 13 week run at the Phoenix Theatre, mixed reviews and packed houses, the production transferred to The 46th Street Theatre on Broadway in December 1989, where it played till March the following year after 19 previews and 84 performances.

Dustin continued his role as the Jewish money lender with his thirst for revenge and ‘a pound of flesh’

Dustin was nominated for both a Tony and the Drama Desk Award. He signed my sketch at the theatre in New York in February 1990.

Drawing: Rod Laver, The Rocket

Rod Laver

Considered by many as possibly the greatest player of all time, Rod “Rocket” Laver is the only tennis player to win two Grand Slams (1962 and 1969). He signed my caricature at his residence in California in June 1994.

Drawing: Pelé

Pele Blog

Edison Arantes do Nascimento, better known as Pelé, is regarded by most as the best football player of all time.

Nicknamed ‘The Black Pearl’, he is the only footballer to win 3 World Cup-Winning medals (1958, 1962, 1970) and was listed as FIFA’s Player of the Century in 1999 and Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee.

From 1995-1998 the Brazilian government created the Sports Ministry specifically for Pelé and made him Extraordinary Minister of Sport. While he held that title, I sent my sketch to him at the government address, and it was returned, signed!