Born in Lititz,
PA in 1907, Henry Alonzo (Lon) Keller developed his artistic talent in the 1920's, graduating
Cum Laude from Syracuse University with a fine art major in 1929. The economic
conditions at the time made the normally difficult start of a career in art and
illustration virtually impossible. Henry Alonzo, as he was known then, took a
job managing the store at the School of Architecture at the University of
Pennsylvania. During that time, he produced his first commercial work
illustrating the house newspaper for Sun Oil. He then did some covers for the
Keystone Automobile Club magazine.
In 1932, the editor of the football programs at Penn, having seen some of his work, engaged Lon to produce the cover for the Cornell - Penn Thanksgiving Day game, which featured a female football fan.
In those days, because of cost, quality sports programs with four-color covers were out of reach for all but the Ivy League and Big Ten. Most of these were custom produced for each school by national advertisers including Chesterfield, Lucky Strike and Camel. The production was handled by a California printing company, LS&Z. As a result of a visit by the salesman of LS&Z to Penn where he saw the Cornell-Penn cover, they began to use Lon in 1933. It was here that Lon met Don Spencer
Shortly thereafter, Don Spencer left to start his own company. He recognized that the cost of production could be drastically reduced if all programs for a season were produced centrally at one time. This would enable the expansion of the college market to many smaller schools. The secret to this success was that few colleges could possible afford to produce covers and centerfolds with the quality of art work and printing in the early days before 4-color letter presses -- the setup cost was enormous plus the cost of quality paper in low quantities. Spencer's price to the college in 1946 was $28 per thousand 8-page forms printed on one side with 4-color cover, centerfold and back cover -- (comparable cost for local production according to Spencer was $775 per thousand). A college would then take it locally for printing local ads, team information and to overprint the cover with game info --usually in black & white
Keller began his long career with the
Don Spencer Company and moved to New York in 1937.
He married Esther
1938 and they raised three children.
He moved to DeLand, Florida in 1984 and was still painting when he passed away on June 28, 1995.
(Click HERE for a Microsoft Word version of this biography with picture.)