Bill Mauldin was born
in New Mexico in 1921. While in his early teens Mauldin decided he
wanted to become a professional cartoonist and after school attended the
Academy of Fine Art in Chicago.
He joined the United
States Army in 1940 and began producing cartoons for the 45th Division
News. In 1943 he took part in the invasions of Sicily and Italy.
The following year he became a full-time cartoonist for the Stars and Stripes.
His cartoons often featured two infantrymen called Willie and Joe. .
Pyle, America's most popular journalist in the Second World War, wrote
an article about the work of Mauldin, he was picked up by United Feature
Syndicate in 1944 and his cartoons began appearing in newspapers all over
the United States. He later recalled that: "I drew pictures for and about
the soldiers because I knew what their life was like and understood their
gripes. I wanted to make something out of the humorous situations
which come up even when you don't think life could be any more miserable."
"Just give me the
aspirin. I already got a Purple Heart." From Bill Mauldin,
Stars and Stripes (1944)
. Mauldin's cartoons
often reflected his anti-authoritarian views and
got him in trouble with some of the senior officers. In 1945 General
George Patton wrote a letter to the Stars and
Stripes and threatened to ban the news- paper from his Third
Army if it did not stop carrying "Mauldin's scurrilous attempts to undermine
General Dwight D.
Eisenhower did not agree and feared that any attempt at censorship would
undermine army morale. He therefore arranged a meeting between Mauldin
and Patton. Mauldin went to see Patton in March 1945 where he had
to endure a long lecture on the dangers of producing "anti- officer cartoons".
Mauldin responded by arguing that the soldiers had legitimate grievances
that needed to be addressed.
. Will Lang, a reporter
with Time, heard about the meeting and questioned Mauldin about what
happened. Mauldin replied, "I came out with my hide on. We
parted friends, but I don't think we changed each other's mind."
When the comment appeared in the magazine George Patton was furious and
commented that if he came to see him again he would throw him in jail. .
Mauldin's cartoons on the Second World War won the Pulitzer Prize.
The citation read: "for distinguished service as a cartoonist, as exemplified
by the series entitled "Up Front With Mauldin". Mauldin, the youngest person
to be awarded the prize, was now one of the best-known cartoonists in the
United States. His book, Bill Mauldin's Army, was published in 1951.
And he was featured on the cover of Time magazine.
As a member of the
United Feature Syndicate Mauldin's cartoons attacking racism, the Ku Klux
Klan and McCarthyism appeared in newspapers all over the United States.
Mauldin's cartoons were unpopular with the newspapers in small towns and
he had difficulty getting them published.
gave up cartooning. He returned in 1958 when he replaced the retiring
Daniel Fitzpatrick at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. This newspaper
was willing to publish his strong views on racism. In 1959 he won
another Pulitzer Prize for his cartoon, I won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
What was your crime? . .
Mauldin moved to the Chicago Sun-Times where he worked with another radical
cartoonist, Jacob Burck. He had achieved so much.
Mauldin should have
won a third Pulitzer Prize for what may be the single greatest editorial
cartoon in the history of the craft: his deadline rendering, on the day
President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, of the statue at the Lincoln
Memorial slumped in grief, its head cradled in its hands. He never
acted as if he was better than the people he met. He was still Mauldin,
the enlisted man.
. Mauldin died at age
81 in the early days of 2003. The end of his life had been rugged.
He had been scalded in a bathtub, which led to terrible injuries
and infections; Alzheimer's disease was inflicting its cruelties.
Unable to care for himself after the scalding, he became a resident of
a California nursing home, his health and spirits in rapid decline. .
the late summer of 2002, as Mauldin lay in that California nursing home,
some of the old World War II infantry guys caught wind of it. They
didn't want Mauldin to go out that way. They thought he should know
he was still their hero.
Gordon Dillow, a columnist
for the Orange County Register, put out the call in Southern California
for people in the area to send their best wishes to Mauldin. I joined
Dillow in the effort, helping to spread the appeal nationally, so Bill
would not feel so alone. Soon, more than 10,000 cards and letters
had arrived at Mauldin's bedside.
from Tom on 6/12/10
. Better than that,
old soldiers began to show up just to sit with Mauldin, to let him know
that they were there for him, as he, so long ago, had been there for them.
So many volunteered to visit Bill that there was a waiting list.
Here is how Todd DePastino,
in the first paragraph of his wonderful biography of Mauldin, described
"Almost every day
in the summer and fall of 2002 they came to Park Superior nursing home
in Newport Beach, California, to honor Army Sergeant, Technician Third
Grade, Bill Mauldin. They came bearing relics of their youth: medals,
insignia, photographs, and carefully
newspaper clippings. Some wore old garrison caps. Others arrived
resplendent in uniforms over a half century old. Almost all of them
wept as they filed down the corridor
like pilgrims fulfilling some long-neglected obligation."
One of the veterans
explained to me why it was so
important: "You would have to be part of a combat infantry unit to appreciate
what moments of relief Bill gave us. You had to be reading a soaking wet Stars and Stripes
in a water- filled foxhole and then see one of his cartoons."
"Th' hell this
ain't th' most important hole in the world. I'm in it."
States Postal Service deserves a standing ovation for issuing Bill Mauldin stamp
on Thursday, April 01, 2010, in Santa Fe, New Mexican.
Please note that Willie
and Joe were also in the stamp representing all the infantrymen from World