Monday, September 25, 2023

Creators: A Few Details About Alvin Lustig and Elaine Lustig Cohen

Alvin George Lustig was born on February 8, 1915, in Denver, Colorado, according to his World War II draft card. 

In 1920 United States Census, Lustig was the only child of Harry and Jeanette. They were Los Angeles, California residents at 1637 Winona Boulevard. Lustig’s father was a district manager in the motion pictures industry. 

Billboard, September 28, 1929:
L. A. S. M. Picnic a “Wow”
Los Angeles, Sept 21.—The annual picnic and “prestidigitato” of the Los Angeles Society of Magicians was held recently at the Recreation Lodge grounds in Elysian Park here. This year’s affair was given in the form of a basket picnic, thus enabling the committees to elaborate more on the outdoor entertainment. ...

... One of the many surprises of the evening was the clever performance of Alvin Lustig, age 14, who stepped out like an oldtimer and presented a magical performance with all the finish and assurance of a seasoned performer. ...
Billboard, December 21, 1929:
Yendis, of puppet fame; Frank Pewins, Dr. Porter, Jean Speranza, Frank Greatrex, Roger Johnstone, Alvin Lustig, A J. Cantu, Ed Luts, Joe White, Charles Miller, Arthur Valli, Gerald Kosky, E. L. Enochs, Jack McMillen, Paul Green and Frank Allen furnished the entertainment at the recent monthly meeting of the Los Angeles Society of Magicians at the Hotel Rosalyn, Los Angeles.
The 1930 census recorded Lustig, his parents and sister, Sarabelle, in Los Angeles at 1608 Wellington Road. 

In the Summer of 1932, Lustig graduated from Los Angeles High School. Below are pages from the Blue and White yearbook.

According to the 1940 census, Lustig lived at 3967 Cumberland in Los Angeles. He was a self-employed designer who had two years of college. 

On October 16, 1940, Lustig signed his World War II draft card. His address was 11618 Barrington Court, Los Angels, California. He was described as five feet nine inches, 115 pounds, with brown eyes and hair. 

The 1942 California Voter Registration, at, said Lustig was a designer and Democrat whose address was 6931 Paseo Del Serra Street in Los Angeles, California. In six years his life would change.

Elaine Lustig Cohen was born Elaine Althea Firstenberg on March 6, 1927, in Jersey City, New Jersey. Her full name published in the 1945 Jambalaya yearbook. 

In the 1930 census, Elaine was the only child of Herman and Elizabeth. They were Jersey City residents at 217 Fowler Avenue. Her father was a plumber. 

The 1940 census said Elaine, her parents and sister, Marcia, lived in Jersey City at 169 Clinton Avenue. 

In 1945 and 1946, Elaine was a student at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana.

1945 Jambalaya

1946 Jambalaya

Elaine transferred to the University of Southern California where she graduated in 1948. 

1948 El Rodeo

Her engagement was published in the Los Angeles Times, September 19, 1948.
Elaine Firstenberg, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Herman Firstenberg of Beverly Hills, to Alvin Lustig, son of Mrs. Jeanette Lustig and the late Harry Lustig. The bride-elect was graduated from SC.
The California County Marriage Record (at said they married on December 22, 1948. 

In 1952, Elaine was a registered Democrat who lived at 9126 Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. 

The 1953 Manhattan city directory listed Lustig at 132 East 58th Street. In the 1953 New Haven, Connecticut city directory, he was listed as a visiting critic at Yale University. 

Lustig passed away on December 4, 1955 in New York City. Obituaries appeared in The New York Times, December 5, 1955, and The Canadian Jewish Review, January 20, 1956.

The New York, New York Marriage License Index (at said Elaine married Arthur Cohen in Manhattan in 1956.

Elaine passed away on October 4, 2016, in New York City. Three days later, The New York Times published an obituary. 

Further Reading
Who’s Who in America Volume 28 (1954)
Knoll, Economy, Form, Structure
Interiors, September 1946, Alvin Lustig, Designer
Interiors, June 1953, The Lustig Portfolio ’53

Federal Bureau of InvestigationElaine Lustig Cohen
AIGA Eye on Design, As A Famed Designer Goes Blind, His Wife Steps Out From Under His Shadow
Print, March-April 1959
House & Garden, July 1983
Interiors, September 1963, Elaine Lustig Cohen’s Five Storeys
2011 AIGA Medalist: Elaine Lustig Cohen
Art in America, Number 4, 1959, Book Design
Rochester Institute of Technology, Alvin LustigElaine Lustig Cohen

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