John Falter was a Nebraska artist who applied his talents to the war effort, producing numerous recruiting and incentive posters while on active duty with the U.S. Naval Reserve.
Born in Plattsmouth and raised in Falls City, Falter gained fame for his cover illustrations for the Saturday Evening Post. Throughout the war, he continued to work as a free-lance commercial artist, though most of his commercial works also addressed patriotic themes.
Between 1942 and 1946, Falter produced a body of work impressive both in volume and variety. He completed 34 major paintings for Saturday Evening Post, Look, and Esquire, and over 300 are recruiting and incentives posters for the Navy. Among his major works were portraits of General Mark Clark, Admiral William Halsey, and Lieutenant Clark Gable — all for Look — and a series of 12 paintings for Esquire. The Esquire series was commissioned to depict "heroic devotion to duty by members of America’s armed forces." Writer Paul Gallico described the deeds of valor portrayed by Falter’s paintings. Seven of the original Esquire paintings now belong to the Nebraska State Historical Society.
After the war, Falter continued to produce illustrations for major magazines. He eventually produced over 200 Saturday Evening Post covers depicting a wide range of American historical themes. He was also a musician, and had an opportunity to paint portraits of jazz idols like Louis Armstrong and Art Tatum. He was devoted to all of his subjects. Falter once said, "If you are not in love with what you are trying to put on canvas, you had better quit." He died in Philadelphia in 1982. His widow, Mary Elizabeth Falter Jones, donated many of his paintings, papers, and studio furnishings to the Nebraska State Historical Society in 1982.
Watch the following short 'History Moments' video about Robert Henri and John Falter.