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Buy Al Hirschfeld’s Pink Manhattan Townhouse

Al Hirschfeld Home

If you missed purchasing Mary Blair’s house and Ward Kimball’s house, don’t fret. The Wall Street Journal reports that caricaturist Al Hirschfeld’s garishly pink Upper East Side townhouse is currently on the market for $5.3 million. He lived and worked in the home, which formerly housed workmen from a nearby brewery, from 1947 through his death in 2003. He credited his ability to purchase the home to the success of a book he illustrated–S.J. Perelman’s Westward Ha! Or Around the World in 80 Clichés. More details about the 4,160 square feet home on the WSJ website.

Al Hirschfeld Home

Animator and director Eric Goldberg has long been inspired by Hirschfeld’s style, and based the “Rhapsody in Blue” sequence from Fantasia 2000 on his work:

  • Eek, that townhouse’s facade needs to be restored back to its original glory.

  • I also remember watching an Aladdin ‘making-of’ special where Goldberg sat down with Hirschfeld to discuss how to use his swirling, swooping pen lines in the design and animation of the Genie.

    In fact…I just found it on YouTube. Here:

  • Gray64

    Wonder what those brewery guys’d think, to see their old house going for 5.3 million dollars? Honestly, how can ordinary people afford to live in New York?

    • amid

      Honestly, how can ordinary people afford to live in New York?

      Ordinary people live in Brooklyn and Queens.

      • 2011 Child

        This is true.

        Helps when you have an apartment mate or two.

    • purin

      You break the bank buying a place a few decades ago.

  • David Breneman

    I’d forgotten how incredibly powerful Goldberg’s “Rhapsody in Blue” piece was. I cried when I saw it in the theater and I cried again watching it now. It is a freakin’ masterpiece.

  • Ron

    I’m lucky enough that I actually got to meet Al Hirschfeld once. It was a year or two before he died but he was still working. He never stopped. He was a very nice guy too.

    I also got to talk to Eric Goldberg about “Rhapsody in Blue”. It came out while I was a student at Cal Arts and some of my teachers there were not happy with it. They said it didn’t capture Hirschfeld’s essence in animation. Lucky for us Eric Goldberg came to talk to our class shortly after that and I asked him what Al thought of this. He said Al loved it and said it was ‘the best birthday present he ever got’.

    Another show I always found very Hirschfeld influenced was “the Critic”. I wonder if anyone who worked on that show also worked on “Rhapsody in Blue”.

    Anyway, I kinda wish they’d make his house in to a museum of his life with his drawings on exhibit. He was integral enough part of NY culture that I feel it’s warranted. Maybe we can get a petition going.

    • JD

      “some of my teachers there were not happy with it. They said it didn’t capture Hirschfeld’s essence in animation.”

      I’m glad it was a combination of Al and Eric. Both great artists.

    • David Breneman

      Interesting that Ron should mention “The Critic” because I always thought that the unemployed guy in “Rhapsody in Blue” looked a lot like Jon Lovitz.

  • I used to live a couple of blocks from Al Hirschfeld. I would walk past his townhouse hoping for a glimpse of Al drawing in his barber’s chair.

  • Mike Fontanelli

    Ordinary people live in Brooklyn and Queens

    There’s nothing ordinary about Brooklyn residents, I assure you.
    Here’s a New York comedy club joke I remember from college days:

    Comic (to audience): “Raise your hand if you’re from Queens.”
    (Beat), “That’s great. I’m from ordinary parents myself.”

  • I wonder why people thought Al didn’t like Rhapsody in Blue.

    • Ron

      I think some people just like to complain. Hard to imagine, I know. :/

  • optimist

    The WSJ piece has a hint of issues between Hirschfeld’s beloved daughter Nina and his last wife-the one who’s selling the house. Nina remembers the house as the most wonderful in Manhattan and adds “I would love to see it before it’s sold”. I hope she gets the chance. What a place!

    Al can credit Perelman’s book for getting him the house. I credit the fact that real estate in Manhattan in 1947 wasn’t yet utterly insane.

  • I’d forgotten what a beautiful sequence this was! Great job Eric and company!

  • that was great… good old steve guttenberg

  • To Ron: many people thought it would be a good idea to have the house as a museum, but it was simply too difficult to do and something Hirschfeld was not too keen on. The good news is that the chair and table that he created all of his work on can be seen by everyone, 24/7 for free at Lincoln Center at the entrance to the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts. New images will appear every other week on the table from the Hirschfeld Archives.

    but you don’t have to go to Lincoln Center to see Hirschfeld’s work. http://www.alhirschfeldfoundation.org is going to full launch soon but alreay the database of everything he ever did in up, and more than 2,500 images. The goal is to put everything. Stop by and check it out.

    If you are are in New Orleans anytime between now and April 3rd, you can see DRAWN TO LIFE: Al Hirschfeld and the Theater of Tennessee Williams. There’s also a great catalogue for that show.

    On March 5th, a nice small show, Hirschfeld’s Broadway Scrapbook will open at, of all places, the NY Botanical Garden as part of their annual Orchid show, whose theme this year is Broadway.There will be about 40 works in that show.

    a new chapter in the Hirschfeld story is just starting, with access to his work better now than ever before. New exhibitons and publications are on the horizon, so check out the http://www.alhirschfeldfoundation.org for the latest news.

  • masterpiece

  • A.C.

    Incredibly inspiring sequence indeed, every sense of the way.

  • A.C.

    Teehee..I was 10 when it came out by the way, so it’s nice to see it with a whole new set of eyes by now.

  • DB

    Beautiful character design and backgrounds but a very poorly thought out narrative IMHO.

    For example, its ridiculous to have one of the characters be a drummer when there is virtually none of that kind of drumming in the actual music. It’s just bizarre.

    They really needed some good gag men too – the business is not very funny.

    Its really too bad though -when I heard about the sequence when the film came out I really, REALLY wanted to like it.

  • The Rhapsody in Blue is nicely designed, and feels like Hirschfeld at times, especially early on. My problem is that they made several large cuts in the music, starting about halfway through. If you’re going to animate to the music, then don’t cut the music to fit your animation! Write more story.

    The Second Rhapsody, by the way, has more drumming in it, and the alternate title is “Rhapsody in Rivets.” That might have been good.

    Again, I don’t dislike the piece, but I question some of the choices.