Someone recently commented to me that it seems like half the illustrators of the 1950s were employed by the Charles E. Cooper studios. If that were true, then the other half must have been employed with Fredman/Chaite...
... Cooper's main rival in the commercial art studio business of those days.
Thanks to Murray Tinkelman's ongoing oral history of the illustration business and Neil Shapiro's articles in Illustration magazine, the details of 'who, what and when' at Cooper's is quite well known.
Unfortunately, there's far less information out there about Fredman/Chaite.
When I interviewed Mitchell Hooks in 2008, he described his personal experience as an illustrator working at F/C. Mitchell had worked for Al Chaite early in his career, when Chaite was the studio manager at an outfit called Trager/Phillips. He told me Al Chaite was a sort of 'journeyman studio manager' - but he did not mention Chaite was also an accomplished illustrator. Yet here is a fabulous double page spread Chaite is credited with illustrating, from Collier's, in 1954.
By '54 Al Chaite had left Trager/Phillips far behind. He had found a partner in Harry Fredman and opened a studio at 62 West 47th Street in New York. From Mitchell's description, it sounds like it was quite a remarkable place. It occupied a six-story townhouse and was "a great big bustling building full of illustrators, most sharing offices in groups of two or three."
"There were always more arriving during the day, and the place was open until 10 or 11 o'clock, so you'd see all sorts of freelancers there all the time working late into the night."
Who took up residence at Fredman/Chaite? For starters, how about Bob Peak, Frank McCarthy, Robert McGinnis and John Buscema?
And what about Harry Fredman, the other half of Fredman/Chaite? Virtually nothing is known about him, aside from the brief description Mitchell gave me:
Harry Fredman was "a tremendously talented (and wildly successful) illustrator who had the uncommon touch of imitating the style of the time."
Here are some examples of what Mitch was talking about.
By the early '50s Harry Fredman's work seems to disappear from all the magazines for which he worked. The Al Chaite piece near the top of this post is the only one I've ever found. It's likely that both men were kept too busy managing a major New York advertising art studio to invest their time in actually creating any illustrations of their own.
What became of either of them or their studio remains a mystery.