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Al Gerald "Al Capp" Capp
Original name: Alfred Gerald Caplin
Birth: Sep. 28, 1909
New Haven
New Haven County
Connecticut, USA
Death: Nov. 5, 1979
South Hampton
Rockingham County
New Hampshire, USA

Cartoonist. Al Capp created the cartoon strip Li'l Abner during the early stages of the Great Depression in 1934. It would last for 43 years well beyond the Vietnam War until 1977 when its creator retired taking the entire hillbillyYokum family from mythical Dogpatch USA with him...Abner, Daisy Mae, Manmy, Pappy Yokum, Marryin Sam, Sadie Hawkins, Sir Cecil, Lady Cesspool, Hairless Joe, Lonesome Polecat, Fearless Fosdick, the Shmoos and the ultimate jinx Joe Btfsplk with his overhead black cloud. He was the eldest child born to Otto and Matilda Caplin in New Haven Connecticut. Fitted with a prosthesis after losing a leg at the age of nine, he would walk with a limp and needed the use of a cane the rest of his life. His father would introduce him to drawing as a form of therapy. With books, encouragement and supplies provided by his art loving family, he became quite proficient learning mostly on his own. His formal training came from a series of art schools in the New England area including Designers Art School in Boston, the last before launching his amazing career. At age nineteen, he was the youngest syndicated cartoonist in America with a daily cartoon series called "Colonel Gilfeather" an Associated Press feature. His first major collaboration was in 1932 with Ham Fisher the creator of the comic strip "Joe Palooka." A year later, Alfred Gerald Caplin became All Capp after striking out on his own. He would develop "Dogpatch USA" with a complete cast of hillbilly characters based on the folks he saw when traveling the mountains of West Virginia as a youngster. The cartoon strips popularity grew and grew from an original eight papers to ultimately being carried by hundreds with a readership of over 60 million readers with adults far out numbering children. Unable to serve in World War II because of his disability, he would visit military hospital amputees on a regular basis, entertaining, giving encouragement by lecturing while highlighting the story of his own missing limb. In the latter years of the strip with Capp now middle age, Li'l Abner was no longer funny as its creator became mean-spirited, outspoken and acid-tongued toward many Americans which transferred to the strip and its demise. He was a frequent and outspoken guest on the "Tonight" show spanning hosts Jack Paar, Steve Allen and Johnny Carson while authoring his own newspaper column. He met his match as guest lecturer at campuses nationwide during the Viet Nam era attacking anti-war protesters and demonstrators which included many prominent and famous Americans. Female students struck back implicating him with charges of sexual misconduct. In one case, he was forced to plead no contest and withdrew from public speaking. Li'l Abner, once the most popular comic strip in America, lost nearly half its markets. Capp saw the handwriting on the wall and retired pulling the strip. A heavy smoker his entire life, he was already in the last stages of Emphysema. A short retirement as a recluse at his home in South Hampton, New Hampshire was of short duration. He would pass away there in less than two years. Legacy...His characters from Dogpatch created a ready market for collectibles but his Shmoo characters became a national sensation, creating the largest mass merchandising phenomenon of the time. Capp won the National Cartoonist Society's Award in 1947. This prestiges award is given every ten years to an outstanding cartoonist. In 1995, the comic strip was featured by the Postal Service in its "Comicstrip Classics" a series of commemorative stamps honoring the art. He introduced many slang terms to the English language..."Lower Slobobia," "Fosdick," Druthers,"Irregardless, a " Daisy Mae" type and "Kickapoo Joy Juice." The first Li'l Abner movie was made in 1940 with Granville Owen in the lead with Buster Keaton in the role of Lonesome Polecat. An animated comic strip adaptation conceived four years later was not successful. In 1956, a Broadway musical was a hit then made into a movie in 1959 with Peter Palmer again in the lead. The musical had a revival on Broadway in 1998. In a bit of trivia...Some of you, including myself, found a spouse via a Sadie Hawkins Dance. In November, 1937, Al Capp introduced Sadie Hawkins Day in his Li'l Abner comic strip. This event would pit Daisy Mae in a foot race intent on the capture of Li'l Abner for the purpose of marriage. It quickly inspired real life girl-asks-boy dances across America in High Schools and Colleges. Sadie Hawkins Day became a national institution. After nearly 20 years of bachelorhood, Daisy Mae was finally successful in 1952 and Li'l Abner was vanquished by marriage. The event made front page news as well as the cover of Life Magazine. A popular theme-park called Dogpatch USA operated in Jasper, Arkansas, until the early nineties before closing mired in financial red ink. (bio by: Donald Greyfield (inactive)) 
 
Family links: 
 Spouse:
  Catherine Wingate Cameron Capp Halberstadt (1909 - 2006)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
Mount Prospect Cemetery
Amesbury
Essex County
Massachusetts, USA
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Record added: Apr 30, 1998
Find A Grave Memorial# 2841
Al Gerald Al Capp Capp
Added by: I Remember When
 
Al Gerald Al Capp Capp
Added by: I Remember When
 
Al Gerald Al Capp Capp
Added by: I Remember When
 
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- Old Coot
 Added: May. 28, 2014

- k. jordan
 Added: Apr. 4, 2014

- k. jordan
 Added: Apr. 4, 2014
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