Ernie Bushmiller (Ernie Bushmiller)

Ernie Bushmiller

Cartoonist. The son of Ernest George Bushmiller, artist, vaudevillian, and bartender; and Elizabeth Hall. Ernie quit school at the tender age of 14 to work as a copy boy at the New York World newspaper. He attended classes at the National Academy of Design. Running errands for the staff cartoonists, he ¬†persuaded occasional drawing assignments, one of which was illustrating a Sunday feature about magic written by Harry Houdini. Early in 1925, Ernie was asked to ghost a flapper comic strip called Fritzi Ritz when its originator, Larry Whittington, left to work for William R. Hearst’s rival paper, the New York Journal American, where Whittington would concoct another strip about a flapper, Mazie the Model. Cast in the mold of Cliff Sterrett’s Polly and Her Pals and launched October 9, 1922, Fritzi Ritz was a “pretty girl strip” the comedy of which is generated by a delectable flapper who wins a beauty contest and becomes a movie actress in the New York film colony. The character of Fritzi was modeled after Ernie’s fiance, Abby Bohnet, the daughter of a train conductor. The couple, who married July 9, 1930, had no children. In 1931, they headed for Hollywood, where Bushmiller wrote gags for Harold Lloyd’s Movie Crazy,continuing to draw Fritzi Ritz at the same time. A year later, they returned to the Bronx. Ernie introduced Nancy, Fritzi’s niece, to the strip on January 2, 1933. The character proved popular, so she appeared more often. The strip told continuing stories in those years, and in 1935, Ernie did a continuity about Nancy running away. Although scarcely a tear-jerking sequence, it apparently tugged enough at readers heartstrings to yank Nancy to their bosoms. Ernie had unwittingly permitted his title character to be upstaged. Then on January 24, 1938, Ernie introduced Sluggo, the stubbly-headed tough kid who becomes Nancy’s constant companion, and before too many more months, the cartoonist capitulated to what was now obvious: Nancy was clearly his star. By the end of 1938, Ernie had struck Fritzi’s name from the strip’s marquee and put Nancy’s in its place. From that point on, the strip ran few continuities. It became a gag-a-day strip. Ernie, one of the founding members of the National Cartoonists Society, received its Humor Comic Strip Award and its Reuben Award in 1976 for his work on Nancy. Ernie died in 1982 at the age of 76. (bio by: Shock)


  • August, 23, 1905
  • USA


  • August, 08, 1982
  • USA


  • Mount Hope Cemetery
  • USA

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