Born in Detroit, Michigan, Hooks served with the U.S. military, including occupation duty in Germany, then began his freelance illustration career in New York City. He painted paperback covers for Avon, Bantam Books, Dell Books, Fawcett Publications and others, and illustrated for magazines including Cosmopolitan, The Saturday Evening Post, The Ladies' Home Journal, Redbook, McCall's, and Woman's Day. He illustrated romance novels,science fiction and crime fiction, such as Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer, Peter Corris's Cliff Hardy and B.B. Johnston's Superspade series.
Hooks illustrated the 36-page booklet How to Respect and Display Our Flag for the U.S. Marine Corps. He also designed film posters, including the first James Bond movie, Dr. No — for which he painted "the iconic image of Sean Connery as Bond" — and The Face of Fu Manchu.
Hooks was 89 when he died.
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"The Paperback Art of Mitchell Hooks", Illustration Magazine 10