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Bill Mauldin Biography


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William Henry "Bill" Mauldin (October 29, 1921 – January 22, 2003) was a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist of the United States.
Childhood and youth

Mauldin was born in Mountain Park, New Mexico New Mexico. His grandfather had been a civilian cavalry scout in the Apache Wars and his father was an artilleryman in World War I. Mauldin took courses at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. While in Chicago, Bill Mauldin met Will Lang Jr. and became fast friends with him. Bill Mauldin entered the United States Army in 1940 to fight in World War II.
World War II cartoonist

While in the U.S. 45th Infantry Division, he began drawing cartoons about regular soldiers, called dogfaces. Eventually he created two cartoon infantrymen, Willie and Joe, who became synonymous with the average American GI (term). Mauldin began working for Stars and Stripes, the American soldiers' newspaper, and his cartoons were viewed by soldiers all over Europe during World War II, and also published in the United States. Willie was on the cover of Time Magazine in 1943 and Mauldin was there in 1958. Those officers who were raised in the army during peacetime were generally offended by Mauldin, who parodied the spit-shine and obedience to order without question view that was more easily maintained during that time of peace. General George Patton once summoned Mauldin to his office and threatened to "throw his ass in jail" for "spreading dissent". This after one of Mauldin's cartoons made fun of Patton's demand that all soldiers must be clean-shaven at all times, even in combat. But Dwight Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander, told Patton to leave Mauldin alone, because he felt that Mauldin's cartoons gave the soldiers an outlet for their frustrations. Mauldin told an interviewer later, "I always admired Patton. Oh, sure, the stupid bastard was crazy. He was insane. He thought he was living in the Dark Ages. Soldiers were peasants to him. I didn't like that attitude, but I certainly respected his theories and the techniques he used to get his men out of their foxholes." Mauldin's cartoons made him a hero to the common soldier. They often credited him with helping them to get through the rigors of the war. Mauldin himself served on the front lines, landing at Anzio, and receiving a Purple Heart after being wounded by an artillery shell fragment. He attained the rank of sergeant and was awarded the Army's Legion of Merit for his cartoons.
Postwar activities

In 1945, at the age of 23, Mauldin won the Pulitzer Prize. The first collection of his work, Up Front, was a best-seller. The cartoons are interwoven with an impassioned telling of his observations of war. After WWII he turned to drawing political cartoons expressing a generally civil libertarian view associated with groups such as the ACLU. These were not well received by newspaper editors who were hoping for more apolitical Willie and Joe cartoons. But Mauldin's attempt to carry Willie and Joe into civilian life was also unsuccessful, as documented in his memoir, Back Home in 1947. He abandoned cartooning for a while, working as a film actor, freelance writer, and illustrator of articles and books, including one on the Korean War. He drew Willie and Joe only twice afterwards, once for the funeral of Omar Bradley and once for the funeral of George C. Marshall, both of them considered "soldiers' generals". (He had wanted to have Willie and Joe be killed on the last day of combat, but Stars and Stripes forbade it.)
Congressional candidate

In 1956, he ran unsuccessfully for the United States Congress as a United States Democratic Party in New York's 28th Congressional District. Mauldin had this to say about his run for Congress: "I jumped in with both feet and campaigned for seven or eight months. I found myself stumping around up in these rural districts and my own background did hurt there. A farmer knows a farmer when he sees one. So when I was talking about their problems I was a very sincere candidate, but when they would ask me questions that had to do with foreign policy or national policy, obviously I was pretty far to the left of the mainstream up there. Again, I'm an old Truman Democrat, I'm not that far left, but by their lives I was pretty far left."
Return to cartooning

In 1958, he returned to cartooning on the editorial pages of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The following year, he won a second Pulitzer Prize and the National Cartoonist Society Award for Editorial Cartooning. In 1961 he received their Reuben Award as well. In 1962 he moved to the Chicago Sun-Times. One of his most famous post-war cartoons appeared in Chicago in 1963, following the assassination of President of the United States John F. Kennedy. The cartoon shows the statue of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial, his head in his hands, crying. Mauldin remained with the Sun-Times until his retirement in 1991. Bill Mauldin was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame on May 19, 1991. He died in 2003 from complications of Alzheimer's disease.

For many years, cartoonist Charles M. Schulz (himself a veteran of World War II) would annually pay tribute to Bill Mauldin in his Peanuts comic strip on Veterans Day. In the strips, Snoopy, dressed as an army veteran, would go to Mauldin's house to "drink root beer and tell war stories."

The films Up Front (1951) and Back at the Front (1952) were based on Mauldin's Willie and Joe characters. Mauldin also appeared as an actor in the 1951 films The Red Badge of Courage and Teresa, and as himself in the 1998 documentary America in the '40s.

  • "I was a born troublemaker and might as well earn a living at it." Bill Mauldin, The Brass Ring, his 1971 autobiography.
  • "The surest way to become a pacifist is to join the infantry." Bill Mauldin, Up Front.
  • "I would like to thank the people who encouraged me to draw army cartoons at a time when the gag man's conception of the army was one of mean ole sergents and jeeps which jump over mountains." Bill Mauldin, Up Front.
  • "I'm convinced that the infantry is the group in the army which gives more and gets less than anybody else." Bill Mauldin, Up Front
  • "More than anyone else, save only Ernie Pyle, he caught the trials and travails of the GI. For anyone who wants to know what it was like to be an infantryman in World War II, this book is the place to start--and finish." -- Stephen Ambrose, Introduction to 2000 edition of Up Front.

    Courtesy of: http://www.wikipedia.org/

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