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David Rose papers

Identifier: 0347

Scope and Content

This collection is comprised of the original artwork of David Rose, renown courtroom sketch artist, and several boxes of his personal research files and clippings. Rose covered the trials of many famous cases, both regional and national, including the Manson family murders, Richard Ramirez (Night Stalker), John De Lorean, Patty Hearst, and many others from the early 1970s to the mid- 1990s. Also included with the collection are several boxes of videotapes, mainly interviews with David Rose on various local television news stations.


  • 1970s-1990s


Conditions Governing Access

COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE. Advance notice required for access. Consult finding aid for additional information.

Conditions Governing Use

The collection contains published articles; researchers are reminded of the copyright restrictions imposed by publishers on reusing their articles and parts of books. It is the responsibility of researchers to acquire permission from publishers when reusing such materials. The copyright to unpublished materials belongs to the heirs of the writers. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Biographical Note

In 1986 David Rose told the Los Angeles Times that the camera sees everything, but captures nothing. It merely gets everything in the room. We learn to leave out the non-essential and emphasize what is important. It was this spirit that allowed David Rose to become one of the most well-known courtroom sketch artists of the twentieth century.

David Rose was born on March 10, 1910 in Malden, Massachusetts, the son of Polish immigrants who had come to the United States to escape prosecution under the Russian czar. He grew up speaking a language he referred to as Lodzer Yiddish, after Lodz, Poland. Long before his career as a courtroom artist began, Rose's talents and interest in people--especially the working class and Jewish populations around the world-- took him from his Boston neighborhood to communities all around the world. He drew sketches of people working in the fields on kibbutzes in Israel, sailors on container ships, longshoreman at the ports, men at rock quarries, farmers in orange groves, subway builders in Los Angeles-- people all still doing proud, meaningful work in an increasingly automated society.

Long before his career as a courtroom artist began, David Rose was a layout artist for Walt Disney Studios in the late 1930s. During World War II, Rose was posted to the U.S. Army Film Corps under the command of Col. Frank Capra whose unit was responsible for making such training and propaganda films as the animated Private Snafu series. During this same time, Rose served under Theodor Geisel-- better known as Dr. Seuss-- and they became lifelong friends. From 1945 to 1960, Rose was an illustrator and designer at various film and television studios in addition to teaching at the Otis Art Institute and other universities and art societies.

It was also in 1945 that Rose met and married Ida Claire Shapiro, a sculptor and art teacher at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles. They had two daughters, Lisa and Marsha. (Both Ida and Marsha preceded David Rose in death.)

Rose's courtroom career began in 1973 with the trial of Daniel Ellsberg, the former defense analyst who released the Pentagon Papers regarding the Viet Nam War to the New York Times. (Rose received an Emmy Award nomination for his coverage of the Pentagon Papers trial.) Rose's sketches of this trial-- along with all those that would follow through the next twenty-five years-- appeared in television news broadcasts and newspapers all over the world. He saw himself as a reporter-- but with colored pencils and sketchpads as his tools. He tried to capture the emotions in the courtroom-- the tension, anger, and the body language that conveyed them. Over the years, Rose's art depicted the trials of some of the most famous-- and infamous-- personalities to make the news: Klaus Barbie (the Butcher of Lyon), Patty Hearst, Sirhan Sirhan, John Z. DeLorean, Rodney King, Imelda Marcos, Huey Newton, Lynette Squeaky Fromme, and many others.

Rose's works were frequently displayed at fine arts galleries and were exhibited at the University of Judaism. Concerned about the future of Israel and the United States, Rose asked that donations be directed towards defeating the Bush administration and its agenda.

David Rose died March 4, 2006 at his home in Hollywood from complications of pneumonia.


10 Linear Feet (16 boxes)

Language of Materials



David Rose (1910-2006) was a well-known courtroom sketch artist whose work documented some of the most notorious trials of the last half of the twentieth century: Klaus Barbie, Patty Hearst, Sirhan Sirhan, members of the Manson family, John Z. De Lorean, Timothy McVeigh, as well as crimes and criminals which were more well-known by their nicknames: The Hillside Strangler, The Night Stalker, the Bob's Big Boy Murders, etc. During his life, Rose also worked for the Hollywood studios as an animator, layout artist, publicity artist, art director, illustrator, and designer.


The David Rose papers is divided into three series, each arranged alphabetically within the series. Rose's own file folder titles and sketch titles were kept; i.e. "Bob's Big Boy Murder," "Mexican Mafia," etc. Most of the videotapes are "home-made" and are also arranged alphabetically, according to the title or words that Rose wrote on the label.

Related Collections at Other Repositories

UCLA: David Rose Collection of Scripts and Storyboards, 1943-1945: rose

Finding Aid of the David Rose papers
Jacqueline Morin, Ranjanabh Bahukhandi, and Mandeep Condle
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the USC Libraries Special Collections Repository

Doheny Memorial Library 206
3550 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles California 90089-0189 United States