Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Pall Mall & Mal Murley

What do you think - does this signature read "Mal Murley"? Its been bugging me for some time.A lot of illustrators worked on Pall Mall's long series of ads designed around this black, white and red theme; Stan Klimley and Paul C. Burns among them. But my favourites have always been done by an illustrator whom I think was named Mal Murley.I can't explain exactly why Murley's monochromatic paintings appeal so much more than others - there's just something really "rock-solid" about them. As pieces of commercial art I find them to be absolutely flawless.Beyond that unusual name, the artist has left no clues about the course of his career...

More often than not, when you find a signature on a piece of advertising art from the 50's, you'll likely see that name again as a credit line on story illustrations in the same magazines. But not only have I never come across a Murley editorial piece, I've never seen his name on any other ad art. Could he have been an in-house illustrator at Pall Mall?

Perhaps one day we'll find the answer. Currently, there's no biography of the artist to be found. For the time being we'll just have to "Reward Ourselves" by admiring the Mal Murley pieces in my Smoking Flickr set.


  1. Leif, since hundreds of class action lawsuits have been filed against anyone who had anything to do with tobacco over the past 75 years, perhaps Mr. Murley went underground. He is probably hiding out in some country that does not have an extradition treaty with the US.

  2. That sounds just crazy enough to be correct, David. Until I hear otherwise, I'm going with your theory!

  3. There's a Malcolm Murley listed here:


    Could be the same artist.

  4. Ohmigosh - its got to be the same guy! Many thanks for locating that info, jesse! :-)

  5. keith s.11:33 PM

    The Social Security Death Index lists a Malcolm L.
    Murley Sr. as being born June 28, 1912 and death
    as Feb. 14, 2000 in Bradenton, FL. Possibly the
    same guy.

    1. Anonymous3:06 PM

      They are one in the same. Malcolm Murley was my grandfather. He and my grandmother retired to Florida from Yonkers, NY in the 1990s.

  6. Thanks Keith S. - that does sound like the same person, based on the birth date.

  7. les humility8:03 PM

    I knew Malcolm first as a commercial fashion artist who illustrated many years of black and white drawings for my clothing company and with whom I spent many "planning" lunches at either The Society of Illustrators or elsewhere on my treat. He gifted me each Christmes with a mixed media or watercolor of one of his works. He illustrated the "Op Sail" proposed US stamp for the 1976 celebration and was an official USAF artist for many years. An elegant gentleman whose wife, that he referred to as "Mrs. Pennywhistle", I never met and I lost contact after they moved from 104 Longview Terrace in Yonkers NY.He used to sail in his youth and did travel to Florida in winters. I have a watercolor that he did on Christmas day in Clearwater Fl so the report of his passing in Bradenton seems likely.
    Russ Mckay

  8. Thanks for adding that background info, Russ - it sounds like Mal Murley was a tremendous gent.

  9. Michael Nichols4:23 PM

    My family knew Malcolm L. 'Mal' Murley in the 1950s and 1960s when he had a broad-beamed old wooden sailboat called 'Mallou' which he kept in our boatyard in Rye, NY on Long Island Sound. He paid for part of his winter storage fees three of those years with three large watercolors (which we still have). (He was a member of the AWS from 1948 until his death). An interesting fellow and a talented artist.

  10. My name is Thomas Murley. Malcolm was my Grandfather. He went to Pratt, then drew for NY times, ads, also fashon mags,stetson hat com.. He was a freelanse artist who drew out of his home. He drew for the US Air Force, documenting space take offs and new jets with art. He also donated paintings to Launchmont Yacht Club outside of Yonkers which he was a member. The Mallou was his boat. the name is mal and louisa his wife. He did pass in Flarida. My Father has about 300 originals.

  11. Thomas Murley, I have been trying to track down an image of a painting your grandfather did entitled "Canaan Valley".

  12. Anonymous7:42 AM

    I am Patsy McDonald, daughter of Bill and Ruth McDonald formerly of Crestwood, New York in the 1950’s.
    I now have Malcolm Murley’s “Canaan Valley” Watercolor painted from our front porch in Canaan on
    Halloween in 1953. We had a wonderful time with his sons, Duncan and Malcolm Jr. that weekend dunking for apples and playing all sorts of Halloween games. Our parents were best friends. I’ll always remember this weekend. This painting was recently photographed by the Canaan Historical Society and is treasured by my family.