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MAULDIN, WILLIAM HENRY (1921-2003)

Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist William Henry "Bill" Mauldin was born to Sidney A. and Edith Katrina Bemis Mauldin on October 29, 1921, in Mountain Park, New Mexico. Bill Mauldin started drawing at age ten and received his first lessons through a correspondence course. Raised in Arizona, he attended Phoenix Union High School, where he joined the Reserve Officers' Training Corps so that he could wear uniforms four days a week, thus relieving the family's clothing budget. He attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, studying under Pulitzer Prize winning Chicago Daily News cartoonist Vaughn Shoemaker.

In 1940 Mauldin enlisted in the U.S. Army, and while training for the infantry, he drew cartoons illustrating the soldier's daily life for the 45th Division News, the infantry division newspaper based in Oklahoma City. The Daily Oklahoman also soon published his work. In 1942 he married Norma Jean Humphries, and in 1943 he was shipped to Italy where the military newspaper, Stars and Stripes, published his drawings. Mauldin's memorable wartime cartoon characters were Willie and Joe, two dogfaces (army soldiers) who were considered to be a realistic portrayal of the infantryman's plight. Mauldin said he received his inspiration for Willie from a fellow soldier, Rayson Billey, a Choctaw from Keota, Oklahoma.

By age twenty-three Mauldin had won a Pulitzer Prize and had a syndicated cartoon contract. In addition, his book, Up Front (1945), was a Book-of-the-Month selection. After receiving a Pulitzer Prize in 1945, he won a second in 1959 while working at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Following the war he did freelance work for many publications and finally settled at the Chicago Sun-Times in 1962. He worked there for twenty years. During the latter part of his life he became an environmentalist and political satirist and married his third wife, Christine Lund.

Although not a high school graduate, he received honorary degrees and authored sixteen books. In addition to the Purple Heart, he was presented numerous cartoonist awards. During the 1960s and 1970s he received top honors for editorial cartooning by Sigma Delta Chi (a journalism honor society at DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana) and was elected a fellow in that organization. In June 2000 he was inducted into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame. At the turn of the twenty-first century the Forth-fifth Infantry Division Museum in Oklahoma City had an exhibit of Mauldin's original cartoons. While battling Alzheimer's disease, Mauldin died of respiratory failure on January 22, 2003, in Newport Beach, California. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

SEE ALSO: CHESTER GOULD, PRINTING AND PUBLISHING INDUSTRY.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 14 November 1971 and 23 January 2003. Bill Mauldin, The Brass Ring (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1971). Bill Mauldin, Star Spangled Banter (San Antonio, Tex.: Universal Press, 1941). "Bill Mauldin," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Tulsa (Oklahoma) World, 23 January 2003. "William Henry Mauldin," Contemporary Authors, Vol. 111 (Detroit, Mich.: Gale Research Co., 1984).

Julia Ann Pledger Daugherty

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