Victor Eugene "Vic" Dowd
S/SGT in 603rd Engineer Camouflage Bn : Co D, 4th Platoon
Born 1920 in NY, Died 2010
County of residence at enlistment: Kings County, NY
Other residence(s): Brooklyn, NY in 1942; Westport, CT in 2002
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: artists, sculptors, and teachers of art
College education before the war: Pratt 3 years
Vic Dowd was born on November 7, 1920 in Brooklyn, NY. His father had served in Europe in WW1, and brought home a French war bride who became Vic's mother. He had a younger sister, Catherine, known as Kaye.
He attended Pratt Institute in New York City, where he became good friends with fellow illustration students Bob Boyajian, Ray Harford, and Ken Bald; they referred to themselves as the Four Musketeers. They socialized together, and two of them ended up marrying women they dated while at Pratt. Victor's sister Kaye would marry Ken Bald. (Kaye was well-known in her own right; she was a Hollywood starlet in the war years, and went on to have a long career as the voice behind many singing commercials for TV—well into the 1990s.)
The Four Musketeers graduated from Pratt with certificates in illustration in June, 1941, and went to work, along with several other classmates, at Jack Binder's studio. Jack had 50 artists working for him, drawing comics for Fawcett Comics, Nedor Comics, and Lev Gleason Publications. He'd started in a Fifth Avenue loft in Manhattan, but eventually moved his crew to the loft of a barn in Englewood, NJ which became known as "Binder Barn."
When Vic filled out his draft registration in February, 1942, he said that he was working for Jack Binder. When he enlisted, on August 31, 1942, he became a member of the 603rd Engineer Camouflage Battalion, along with two of the other three Musketeers—Boyajian and Harford. (Bald joined the Marines.)
Vic was a talented artist who filled his wartime notebooks with carefully rendered sketches. Rick Beyer, in The Ghost Army of World War II, quotes from an interview with him: "It isn't as though we weren't busy. But you have to realize, no matter how busy a soldier is, there's always down time. Soldiers are playing cards, they're shooting craps, they're playing solitaire if they’re all alone, they’re reading. And I drew. I just developed the habit, and I don't think it’s ever left me." His wartime drawings included bombed out buildings, refugee children, and women in a brothel outside of Paris.
In April, 1951, he married British-born Ford fashion model Marjorie Bonar. She appeared later that year in a Camay soap ad in her wedding gown as "a beautiful Camay bride." Vic and Marge would go on to have four children: Jeffrey, Gregory, Eugenia, and Peter.
Vic had a wide and varied art career after the war. In the late 1940s, he did some comic books with Stan Lee (creator of Spiderman) at Timely Comics (later Marvel), drawing "Hedy Devine," "Little Lenny," and "Nellie the Nurse" comics. Later, in the 1950s, he illustrated some promotional comics for B.F. Goodrich entitled "Johnson Makes the Team" and "Tommy Gets the Keys."
Eventually he got into advertising illustration. In an interview with Rick Beyer, he reported: "I did thousands of drawings of beautiful women holding products. In those days, the newspapers and the magazines were full of drawings." He illustrated 20 books, and also spent 15 years as a fashion illustrator. "So my whole life has been drawing. And it's been a good one."
He also became an instructor at the Famous Artists School, founded by fellow Westport artist Stevan Dohanos.
Outside of his professional work, Vic enjoyed watercolor painting, golf, and model railroading. He was also active at Assumption Church in Westport, CT, where the family lived.
Vic died on May 17, 2010, and is buried at Assumption Cemetery in Westport. His wife, Marge, died less than three months later.
1942 draft card
1942 enlistment record
1951 Camay soap ad
2010 VA death record
2010 Find a Grave record (includes obituary)