"Pearlstein, now 96 years old, credits his high school art teacher, Joseph Fitzpatrick, for getting Pearlstein and his classmates—many of whom also went on to careers in art—so enthused. “He talked about art as one of the most important things that the human race had done, and we took it seriously,” Pearlstein says.
Appearing in LIFE at age 17 gave Pearlstein a dose of notoriety, and he says it helped him graduate high school: “I got passing grades because I became famous for those images in LIFE magazine.”
The LIFE appearance also shaped his military career. Pearlstein brought the issue when he went for his Army intake interview after being drafted in 1943, and after four miserable months of basic training in Camp McLellan, Alabama, instead of going off to combat, he went to Camp Blanding in Florida to help work on instruction manuals. Instead of carrying a weapon, he was creating guides on how to use those weapons, while also getting an education in the fundamentals of graphic arts from the advertising industry professionals who ran the operation."