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Biography: Ben Stahl

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Bio Summary
Stahl was a prolific artist and teacher. At the young age of twelve his evident talent landed him a scholarship to the Art Institute of Chicago. His career later covered much ground, ranging from illustrating for the Saturday Evening Post, to promotional posters for MGM studios. Stahl Won well over 25 national awards, taught at several prestigious art schools and institutes and even co-founded Famous Schools and Famous Schools International. Stahl even captured the attention of Walt Disney when he wrote Blackbeard’s Ghost in 1965 which Disney later made into a movie in 1969.

Early Life/Family

Art Institute of Chicago

Career Outline
-Taught at The American Academy of Art
-N.Y. Art Student’s League, Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute
-Commissioned by MGM to produce promotional movie posters
-Co-founded Famous Schools, the largest school in the world
-For 30 years he Illustrated stories for the Saturday evening Post
-Illustrated for Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan and Esquire Magazines
-1965 Opened the Museum of the Cross in Sarasota, Florida
-1965: Illustrated,Wrote Blackbeard’s Ghost
-1969: Blackbeard’s Ghost is made into a live action movie by Disney
-1971 Wrote the sequel Blackbeard’s Ghost “The Secret of Red Skull”

Comments On Style

Stahl claimed that he liked to focus on emotion and impact in his art as opposed to fussing over details. His religious work at The Virtual Museum Of The Cross is Moody, painterly and illustrative with strong dramatic composition while many other painting are lively and colorful.

In general, Stahl’s art is expressive and moving, peppered with flavors of Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Edgar Degas. Some say he openly borrowed styles from many others, but it’s evident that he did it with appreciation and a love for all art.



In April of 1969, 15 of Stahl’s painting were stolen from the Museum of the Cross in Sarasota, Florida (Stahl’s own museum). At the time the media considered it to be the second largest art theft of the decade. Loss damages were valued at over $1.5 million dollars.

Several paintings by Stahl are hanging in the Pentagon and the Air Force Academy.


1969: Disney’s Blackbeard’s Ghost (wrote the book, not the screenplay)
1976: Featured in the television series Journey into Art with Ben Stahl.

Saltus Gold Medal from the Academy of Design
Listed in The Illustrator’s Hall of Fame
Listed in The Painter’s Hall of Fame
Listed in “Who’s Who in American Art”

Related Links

Ben Stahl at wikipedia:
The Virtual Mueseum Of The Cross

Bibliographic References

Contributors To This Listing

Varuna Darensbourg 4-8-2007, 
Jennifer Roth

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