Addison “Mort” Walker acclaimed cartoonist whose work has appeared in newspapers across the United States, and creator of the beloved cartoon comic strip “Beetle Bailey,” passed away on January 27th, 2018 in his home in Stamford, CT.
Brother Walker was born on September 3rd, 1923 in El Dorado, KS to his parents Robin and Carolyn Walker. He had his first comic published at age 11 and sold his first cartoon at 12. At age 14, he began to sell cartoons to Child’s Life, Flying Aces, and Inside Detective magazines. When he was 15, he drew a comic strip, “The Lime Juicers,” for the weekly Kansas City Journal. At age 18, he was the chief editorial designer for Hallmark Brothers, later known as Hallmark Cards, and was instrumental in changing the company’s card from cuddly bears to gag cartoons, which he thought was more suitable for soldiers. All of this before even graduating Highschool.
In 1942 he started attending the University of Missouri, where he became an initiate of the Beta-Gamma Chapter. In 1943, Walker was drafted into the Army and served in Italy, where he was an intelligence and investigating officer. After the war, he was posted to Italy where he was in charge of an Italian guard company. He was discharged as a first lieutenant in 1947. He graduated in 1948 from the University of Missouri, where he was the editor and art director of the college’s humor magazine, Showme, and was president of the Beta-Gamma Chapter.
During his time at the University, he was said to be a regular at the local burger restaurant “The Shack,” which he mentioned and replicated frequently in his “Beetle Bailey” comic strip. Walker visited the Shack on return trips to the University with the last being to the original structure in 1978.
The Shack was destroyed in a fire in 1988 and Walker returned in 2010 for the dedication of a replica of the building in the student center with dining area now formally called “Mort’s.”
A life-sized bronze statue of Beetle Bailey stands in front of the alumni center which is near The Shack. The character Private Beetle Bailey was even said to be modeled after his fraternity brothers in the Beta-Gamma Chapter at the University of Missouri.
In 1974, he founded the National Cartoon Museum, and in 1989 was inducted into its Museum of Cartoon Art Hall of Fame. He received the Reuben Award of 1953 for Beetle Bailey, the National Cartoonists Society’s Humor Strip Award for 1966 and 1969, the Gold T-Square Award in 1999, the Elzie Segar Award for 1977 and 1999, and numerous other awards. In 1978, Walker received the American Legion’s Fourth Estate Award, and in 2000, he was given the Decoration for Distinguished Civilian Service by the United States Army. Named the 1988 Kappa Sigma Man of the Year. Walker received the Sparky Award for lifetime achievement from the Cartoon Art Museum at the 2010 New York Comic-Con. On September 29, 2017, Walker was honored at Yankee Stadium, during the 7th inning stretch, for his service in WWII.
Kappa Sigma would like to take this moment to reflect on Brother Walker’s life and extend our condolences to his family. May he be admitted into that rest.
Read Brother Mort Walker’s Obituary HERE