Israel Miller started his career as a designer and maker of shoes for the theatrical profession in New York. He established the I. Miller Shoe Company, which not only designed and manufactured women’s shoes, but became a leading importer of shoes with a national chain of over 200 retail stores, which were active throughout the 1920s-1960s.
Miller took over a large building in Times Square which he had remodeled in 1926 by architect Louis H. Friedland. The decorative sculpture on the building’s façade, by sculptor Alexander Stirling Calder, was a tribute to the theatrical profession with statues depicting Ethel Barrymore as Ophelia (drama), Marilyn Miller as Sunny (musical comedy), Rosa Ponselle as Norma (opera), and Mary Pickford as Little Lord Fauntleroy (film). Miller also included an inscription beneath the cornice that reads “The Show Folks Shoe Shop Dedicated To Beauty In Footwear.”
In the mid 1950’s the I. Miller Shoe Company hired artist Andy Warhol on a retainer as their chief illustrator, which provided the revitalization it badly needed. Warhol, who was a commercial illustrator prior to becoming a pop artist, was also doing advertising work for Tiffany & Co. and Henry Bendel at the time.
“About Andy Warhol and His Art.” Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. 7 March 2005 http://www.plcmc.org/galleryL/about_andy_warhol_and_his_art.html
“American Masters: Andy Warhol.” Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/database/warhol_a.html
Comenas, Gary. “Andy Warhol 1: John Giorno & Andy Warhol.” WarholStars. 2004 http://www.warholstars.org/warholfilm/warholfilm1.html
Craig, Berry. “Mr. Brannock’s Device, The Quintessential Example of Inconspicuous Consumption.” The Brannock Device Co. Inc. 2005 http://www.brannock.com/history.html
“New York City Landmarks Commission: Designation Process: Summaries: I. Miller Building.” Landmarks Preservation Commission. 1999 The City of New York. http://www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/html/designation/summaries/imiller.html