George Petty’s “Salem Witch,” 1945
George Petty‘s pinup witch seems to have appeared in Fawcett Publications’ True Magazine of October 1945. The artwork then reappeared in the Petty Girl Calendar of 1947 and on the cover of a Matchbook (Petty Girls Series 3) in 1949 with the caption ‘Well I’ll Be-Witched’.
Apparently, the many Petty pinup published in the 30s and 40s “helped build morale during wartime”. Certainly, reproductions of his work were widely rendered by military artists as nose art decorating warplanes during the Second World War (for my post on nose art, see here).
One well-known example of a Petty Girl as nose art is ‘the Memphis Belle’ (see here); another is the Salem Witch. According to Earl J. McGill it is likely that this art was chosen because “the aircraft commander was from Salem, Mass. once noted for its witch trials”.