Monday, April 10, 2023

Comics: Nadine French King, Model, Letterer, Secretary and Editor

Nadine French King was born Nadine P. Sensabaugh on December 23, 1923, in Cumberland, Maryland. The birth date is from the Public Records Index at The birthplace is based on census records. 

The 1930 United States Census said King was the fifth of eight children born to Grover and Edna. They were residents of Cumberland, Maryland at 178 Thomas Street. Her father was a contractor.  

While in high school, King was mentioned in the local newspaper, Cumberland News, on November 3, 1938; September 18, 1939; December 2, 1939; December 5, 1940; January 18, 1941; March 20, 1941 and June 24, 1941

According to the 1940 census, King’s father had remarried. Her mother passed away on February 4, 1939. The family of eight lived at the same address. 

In 1941 King graduated from Fort Hill High School. 

1941 Sabre yearbook

The Cumberland News, October 20, 1941, said King would continue her training in New York City.
Local Girl Will Take Commercial Modeling Course
Miss Nadine Sensabaugh Enrolls in New York City School
Miss Nadine Sensabaugh, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. G.C. Sensabaugh, 178 Thomas street, has enrolled in the Barbizon school, New York City, to take a course in commercial modeling. She also plans to continue her dancing, taking exhibition ball-room dancing.

Miss Sensabaugh has been taking Russian ballet for the past five years from John Moyer, this city, as a foundation for the ball-room dancing. For the intricate steps of the ballet facilitate the dancing of the ball-room combinations done to waltz of four-four time.
In 1942, King’s modeling skills were scheduled for display at the Strand in Cumberland. Advertisements ran in the local paper on May 18 and May 20

The Cumberland News, September 4, 1943, touted King’s appearance in Pic magazine and explained how she adopted the name French. 
Local Girl Is Featured in National Magazine
Miss Nadine Sensabaugh, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. G. C. Sensabaugh, is featured on the cover and a two-page inside spread in the current issue of “Pic” dated September 14.

The cover photo shows Miss Sensabaugh as a dairy helper on a Long Island farm. The inside features picture her operating a tractor, caring for some “peeps” hitching a horse to a plow and petting a baby lamb.

A graduate of Fort Hill high school two years ago, Nadine was active in school dramatics and appeared in several productions sponsored by the Moyer Dance Studio.

As a model in New York, Miss Sensabaugh is known as Nadine French, taking for a short last name the first name of one of her brothers. She was home recently for a brief visit.
Links to PIC are here (the cover), here (about the cover) and here (pages 44 and 45). The November 23, 1943 PIC published two related letters and a photograph. 

The New York Sun, August 14, 1943, said “L. J. Winston reports that Greenwich Village suites have been leased to Nadine French in 71 Bedford street …”

... Nadine French, I knew her from way back. I knew Nadine when she used to go out with Joe Blair. And Nadine was only about 18, whatever, she was a very young girl, and very pretty, very attractive. And she married Joe. And of course it didn’t last. And then she had a job at St. John, and there she met Warren King.
The Connecticut Marriage Record said King and Joseph Blair married on March 25, 1945 in Norwalk, Connecticut. King was 21 years old.

In the late 1940s, Nadine French King, pictured here, worked for Archer St. John, a publisher known for romance and western comics. Originally a letterer, King took on secretarial tasks and did editing work under Marion McDermott, another female employee. ...
In Confessions, Romances, Secrets, and Temptations, Benson interviewed King who recalled working at St. John Publications around Spring 1948. At the time she was sharing an apartment with letterer Duffy Mohler who had divorced “Red” Mohler in 1946. When King’s employer, a photographic studio, closed, she was out of work. Mohler taught lettering to King and they worked together. When an office position became available at St. John, King talked to Archer St. John and was hired.

The St. John’s romance comics carried advertising from mail order fashion companies. King said Archer decided to start his own mail order business. King purchased merchandise and put together the advertisements that ran in Teen-Age Romances. Nadine French Fashions were published in #4, August 1949; #6, October 1949; #7, November 1949; #8, February 1950; and #9, April 1950

King’s advertisement and appearance in Teen-Age Romances was reported in the Beacon News (New York), November 21, 1949.
In picking up a copy of “Teen Age Romances” magazine, a copy of which some­ one in our establishment had procured, what to my won­dering eyes did appear in a full page advertisement of Nadine French Fashions, but a large photograph of the pretty Miss French, a very attractive pho­tograph too. Miss French, who was Mrs. Joseph Blair, was a Beacon resident for a long time, living on Spring Valley St. For some time she has held a responsible position with the St. John Publishing Company of New York and with the publicity given her new venture it unquestionably will meet with success. French was her maiden name.

However, when Benson interviewed Irwin Stein, a St. John’s editor, and showed him the Nadine French Fashions advertisement, Stein said “This picture is not Nadine, although she was a beautiful woman. A real adolescent boy’s dream of a girl. …” 

King’s second marriage, to Warren King, was reported in the Cumberland Sunday Times, April 30, 1950. 
Marriage of Nadine Sensabaugh to New York Artist
Announcement has been made of the marriage of Miss Nadine Sensabaugh to Warren King, New York City. The ceremony was performed March 11 at New Canaan, Conn.

The bride, daughter of G.C. Sensabaugh, 708 Brookfield Avenue, and the late Mrs. Edna P. Sensabaugh, is associated with Seaboard Publishers, Inc., New York. The bridegroom is an artist and assistant to Rube Goldberg, famous cartoonist. Mr. and Mrs. King have returned from a trip to Key West, Fla., and are residing at 12 West 69th Street, New York City. 
Warren King’s first marriage, to Lucille Smollon, also ended in divorce. 

King said she left St. John’s comics  around March 1950. The 1950 census was enumerated in April and said the Kings were Manhattan residents at 12 West 69 Street. She was a secretary at a publisher and husband a freelance commercial artist. King worked at Seaboard Publishing which produced Fast Fiction and Stories by Famous Authors Illustrated

On May 22, 1952, the Kings sailed aboard the Helicon bound for Port-Au-Prince, Haiti.

In 1955, King returned to St. John to work on its magazines. She was the associate editor on Manhunt, Murder and Mantrap

The May 1957 issues of Author and Journalist and The Writer said King was managing editor of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. The June 1958 issue listed King as associate editor. King took a leave of absence or resigned when she gave birth to twin daughters in May 1958.

The Editor and Publisher, November 10, 1962, published a group photograph with this caption: 
Glamour Under Four Hats—Serving as models at a luncheon fashion-show for the benefit of the National Cartoonist Society Milt Gross Fund Oct. 25 at the Hotel Astor were: Nadine King, wife of Warren King (editorial cartoonist, New York Daily News); Mrs. Leonard Starr, wife of Leonard Starr (“Mary Perkins—On Stage”); Mrs. Fay Irving, daughter-in-law of Jay Irving (“Potsey”); and Mrs. Dolores Holman, wife of NCS President Bill Holman (“Smokey Stover”).
King’s father passed away on November 5, 1971. Her husband passed away on February 9, 1978. Newsday (Melville, New York), February 10, 1978, published an obituary. 

King’s status and whereabouts are unknown. 

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