Artist Ted De Grazia (1909–1982) lived life with passion and verve, embracing risk and romance, becoming a legend in Arizona, and gaining international acclaim. De Grazia: The Man and the Myths is a biography that reveals the eccentric, colorful man behind the myths.
Born in Arizona Territory to Italian immigrant parents, De Grazia had a humble childhood as a copper miner’s son, which later influenced his famous persona. De Grazia often held forth at his gallery in Tucson’s Catalina foothills dressed in a pseudo-prospector’s getup of scraggly beard, jeans, flannel shirt, boots, and beat-up cowboy hat. Outrageous stories of womanizing, scores of children, and drinking binges created an eclectic image that fueled stories of mythic proportions, along with global sales of his colorful paintings inspired by the Southwest and Mexico. He made millions through his paintings and the licensing of his art for greeting cards and trinkets. Critics called his work kitsch or commercial, yet thousands of admirers continue to love it.
Calling De Grazia a complicated man doesn’t begin to explain him. He once described himself as “not saint nor devil, but both.” In this first comprehensive biography of De Grazia, authors James W. Johnson with Marilyn D. Johnson tell the story of a life remarkably lived.