WWII Artist – Pinup Calendar Guru Lou Varro – Pinup Art Photography

I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to acquire a few photographs from the estate of the venerated Lou Varro, the best known WWII pinup calendar artist in the MTO during WWII.  Lou is well known for his small-print monthly pinup calendars that would be posted in B-24 and B-17 bombers during missions in Italy.  I’ve seen a handful of his calendars during my time collecting WWII photography and am happy to have acquired a few photos of the artist.  I also snagged an original Varro December 1944 “topless” calendar page.

Lou Varro

Lou Varro

Lou’s most popular subject was attractive women from his hometown.  Although the subject of the portrait is currently unknown, we do know that this photo made the news in Lou’s hometown of Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada in 1944.  I would love to track down the article, it apparently featured Lou and his exploits during his service with a B-24 bomb group during WWII.  See below for the photo that “made the article.”

Lou Varro in 1944

Lou Varro in 1944

Reverse Side

Reverse Side

The woman featured in the above sketch can clearly be seen in a shot of Lou’s bunk taken shortly thereafter.  His calendar obsession can be seen in the image……. what a great glimpse into the everyday life of a bomb group EM.

Lou's Room January 1945 - Italy

Lou’s Room January 1945 – Italy

Lou passed away a few years ago, but had a lot to say about his wartime art career:

“Soon after, he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps and served in World War II as a non-commissioned officer. While stationed in southern Italy, he worked as a processor for films that came off bomber planes after they were sent for an attack. Here, he found another opportunity to work as an artist.”

I dabbled in photography, but my specialty then was calendars,” Varro said.

(from the above linked article) Varro would use his spare time in the photography lab — an old barn that had been converted for military use — to make calendars for his fellow servicemen.

“I would find a picture of a pretty girl, make a couple of them and give them away for the guys to put in their planes or their huts,” he said. “A lot of guys knew and liked me for that.”

This is a continual post and will be updated as more material and information is added to the PortraitsofWar collection.

One of Varro’s famous WWII pinup calendars.  Most of his models were taken from previously exiting “nudie magazines” and retrofitted into calendars.  Please enjoy Miss December, 1944!

Miss December 1944

Miss December 1944

8 thoughts on “WWII Artist – Pinup Calendar Guru Lou Varro – Pinup Art Photography

  1. Lou passed away last year. He was my friend. I have several examples of his wonderful work from the mid 20th century. He was a great man.

    • Randy,

      Thanks for finding my site. Wish I knew Lou. Sadly, his photo collection was split apart on eBay to the highest bidder. I was able to pick up a few of his more touching, personal photos. I only hope that my post will help to keep his candle burning into the future.


      • Love the article Brennan. I knew Lou for many years we often had thanksgiving together. Prior to his passing I was able to digitize the entire photograph collection for his family as a Christmas gift one year. I did sell a few hundred originals on eBay, they mostly went to museums, authors, and those who had family lost from his unit. There are some modern reprints available of Lou’s photographs on FineArtAmerica.com. Some of these are from original negative and never offered on eBay. There is one of Lou with two victory girls who might also have posed as models. His collection was very large and I will be adding more over the next year, many treasures still to be discovered there and I will make sure to get you a copy of any models, or related pictures for your wordpress.
        He attended the prestigious Brooks Institute of Photography after the war but could not make a living as a photographer. He became an aerospace illustrator instead. I hope these images serve as a legacy for Lou and that he will be remembered by future generations for his art and historical photographs.

  2. Brennan, I am offering a few more Lou Varro original negative. He loved to take pictures of pretty girls, and at every opportunity would coax them to pose. I found one model in particular that looks very similar to the calendar. The negative slip cover is from a series he did of the P.X. girls at Atkins airfields in British Guinea around 1945. He photographed several girls but by far she was the most attractive and would have been my choice to model as well. Check it out on eBay and perhaps it is a match🙂

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