By the early 1940s, Reid’s success as an editorial illustrator lead to more lucrative commissions in advertising, and he became the go-to illustrator for such clients as The General Tire Corporation, Old Gold Cigarettes, Topps Gum, and Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer.
Although Reid’s style evolved over time, most of his work could be considered cartoon-realism, a style that distinguished Reid from many of his contemporaries, who tended to be either romantic realists or genre cartoonists. The popularity of his illustrations is easy to understand in that they were funny, and stylishly executed, with an eye for composition and color—and importantly, they featured beautiful women oblivious to their charms. In particular, Reid’s meticulous attention to fashion created mood as much as the poses and expressions of his characters.
According to Reid’s son Al Reid, Robert O. Reid was born out of wedlock in 1890. His young mother, the daughter of a wealthy New York family, the Ogden Reids, had become involved with a man her family disapproved of. She was thusly disowned by her family and also abandoned by Reid’s father. She moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he was born and named Louis “Lou” Ogden Reid.
Reid’s mother died when he was only about nine years old, leaving him an orphan. His mother’s family thereafter wanted nothing to do with him. Although he was taken in by a relative, he grew up essentially abandoned, living much of his young life in a YMCA.
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