Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the birth of Walt Kelly

This post was written by Leslie K. Overstreet, Curator of Natural-History Rare Books. Walt Kelly, famed field naturalist of the Okeefenokee Swamp, was born on Aug.25, 1913. He first revealed Okeefenokee’s extraordinary zoological community to the world in 1949.  It included an alligator, turtle, owl, porcupine, skunk, three bats, even worms on occasion, and various others.  Contrary to basic scientific protocols, Kelly tended to personalize, even anthropomorphize, his research subjects: He named more »

Joseph Keppler and “Puck”

 This post was written by Elizabeth Brunner, an intern at the American Art and Portrait Gallery Library September-December 2012. Joseph Keppler was the predominant political cartoonist of the late nineteenth century. His creation of the magazine, Puck, in 1877 brought him into a national position that allowed him to influence people’s political views and opinions. The magazine featured cartoon and caricature lithographs created by Keppler. The National Portrait Gallery is fortunate enough to own a few of Keppler’s lithographs from the height of his fame during the early 1880s. However, as a bibliophile, I was far more excited to discover that the American Art and Portrait Gallery Library owns one of the 300 copies of a limited-edition book that features some of Keppler’s best lithographs. Published in 1893, this book served Puck as an advertising tool and as a way to promote Keppler’s lithographs and talent.

Mickey Mouse debuts in sound in 1928

After losing the rights to his original animated character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Walt Disney created a new character named Mortimer Mouse who was quickly renamed Mickey Mouse. Mickey first starred in two silent cartoons in 1928: Plane Crazy and Gallopin' Gaucho.  However, Mickey's third animated appearance, in Steamboat Willie, released on November 18, 1928 had sound—and the rest is history.  Steamboat Willie propelled Mickey Mouse to stardom, becoming Walt Disney's most popular character and one of the most famous cartoon characters in the world.  Initially he was drawn by Ub Iwerks with Walt himself providing Mickey's voice. By 1932 Walt Disney had received a special Oscar for the creation of Mickey Mouse. Mickey would go on to star in more than one hundred shorts, appear in the 1940 movie Fantasia as the Sorcerer's Apprentice, and serve as the mascot of The Mickey Mouse Club, one of the most popular children's shows of 1950s. Mickey continues to be one of the most recognizable cartoon characters to this day, with his more »

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