Andy Warhol Was an Honors Student?

THE DAILY PIC: A newly discovered document is just the latest proof that Warhol was more scholar than dunce.

THE DAILY PIC (#1639): Yes, you heard it here first, an honors student – that is literally what Andy Warhol was during his first term at Schenley High School in Pittsburgh. A printed “Honor Roll” discovered last weekend by John Schulman, of the Caliban book shop in Pittsburgh, lists a certain Andrew Warhola, of classroom 303, as deserving of an Honorable Mention for his performance during the “seven weeks ending October 23, 1942.” The list was printed for insertion in the Schenley school newspaper, “The Triangle,” and Schulman told me he found it at an estate sale in a home near the high school. He has listed it for sale at $375, which strikes me as a bargain.

That’s because the list is more than just a historical curiosity, with what must almost certainly be the earliest printed occurrence of Warhol’s name. It also provides early documentary proof that Warhol was not at all the unlettered or even illiterate savant that he has often been made out to be – a kind of Forrest Gump of Pop Art. For my forthcoming Warhol biography, I’ve been accumulating a pile of evidence that, on the contrary, Warhol was deeply smart and cultured, and even well and widely read.

Despite his pose as a naïf – and it was truly a pose – he did just fine and sometimes quite well in all kinds of academic subjects throughout his education. At Schenley he was in the academic stream and graduated in the top quintile of students. Later in life, he was rather fond of seeing and reading Shakespeare, sometimes dragging reluctant friends to see the Bard’s plays.

“He’s the most brilliant person I’ve ever met. And he never forgets a thing. But he comes on as really stupid,” said Warhol’s longtime friend Suzie Frankfurt. Now there’s one extra piece of evidence to back up her opinion.

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