From the McMahon family:
Franklin McMahon of Lake Forest, an internationally recognized artist reporter, died at the age of 90 as a result of a stroke on March 3nd. His son Michael McMahon confirmed his death.
McMahon’s drawings and paintings, a number of which were drawn on assignment for the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Daily News and the Chicago Sun Times, the New York Times, Life and Look Magazines, and Sports Illustrated, captured the major historical events of the post-World War II era.His artworks included the trial of Emmet Till, the political campaigns and conventions between 1960 and 2004, the Vatican II Council, the 1965 March on Selma, the Conspiracy Trial of The Chicago 8, the first walk on the moon drawn from Mission Control and the Watergate hearings. McMahon made all of his drawings “on scene” because he believed that an artist reporter could “see around the corners” to capture the essence of the emotion of the subjects of his work. As the culture reporter of the Sunday Telegraph of London Peter Lyle noted: “…his pencil and his pad have been witness to many of the most significant events in postwar American and world history.”
According to close family friend and Art Institute Curator Gloria Groom “The talented artist-reporter McMahon is an internationally recognized Chicago original. His on-site sketches and artworks of many local, national and world events captured the energy and emotion of the given moment.”
McMahon received the Renaissance Prize of the Art Institute of Chicago as well as three Emmy Awards and one Peabody award for films incorporating his artwork. He received honorary degrees from Loyola University of Chicago and Lake Forest College. His work is in a variety of public collections including the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution and the Chicago History Museum, which has collected his drawings and paintings of the Emmett Till Trial and the Chicago 8 Conspiracy Trial. McMahon was a member of the Guiding Faculty of the Famous Artists School in Wilton, Connecticut.
McMahon, the father of nine children, a number of whom followed in his artistic footsteps, was born on the west side of Chicago in 1921 and grew up in Oak Park and Los Angeles before returning to Chicago to attend high school. He is a 1939 graduate and member of the Hall of Fame of Fenwick High School where his professional artistic career started when one of his drawings for his high school publication was published in Collier’s Magazine.
McMahon enlisted in the Army Air Force upon his graduation from high school and served as a B-17 navigator conducting missions over Germany. His plane was shot down and he spent months as a German prisoner of war and made secret drawings of his Nazi captors, which were later published.
After the war he returned to Chicago and married his high school sweetheart, the late travel reporter Irene Leahy McMahon who preceded him in death in 1997. The McMahons were married for fifty-one years and resided in Lake Forest, Illinois. For the last twenty years of their lives together they worked as a team traveling the world. Franklin McMahon made drawings of the venues around the world that Irene McMahon documented as a travel reporter for the Pioneer Press and numerous other Chicago and national publications.
McMahon’s son, noted photographer Wm. Franklin McMahon, observed that: “Dad was not only an amazing artist but a loving husband and father who managed to raise a family of nine children while ‘chasing the story’ as an artist reporter wherever the major events of the day were happening. While his coverage of historical events resulted in public acclaim it was his work in creating a ‘World Studio’ of drawings and paintings while traveling the world with my mother in the last twenty years of their lives together that brought him his greatest joy.”
A wake will be held at Wenban Funeral Home–information will be available soon on the Wenban website. A mass of Christian Burial will be said at 10am Saturday, March 10th at St. Patrick’s Church, 991 South Waukegan Road in Lake Forest. A private burial will follow.
Franklin McMahon is survived by his nine children: Wm. Franklin McMahon, Mark McMahon, Mary I McMahon Taplin, Deborah McMahon Osterholtz, Patrick McMahon, Hugh McMahon, Margot McMahon, Michelle McMahon- Kubota and Michael McMahon, 13 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers that donations are made to:
2822 W. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, Illinois 60612
For further information on the life of Franklin McMahon please visit: