Most Popular Couple in America
Mr. and Mrs. Newlywed Celebrate Their Fourth Anniversary –
With the Baby
(originally printed in the New York
World, this version of the article was scanned, OCRed and proofed from appearance in Denver Times, April 9 1908)
The most popular couple In America this week are
celebrating their fourth anniversary.
Four years ago, on April 10 1904, Mr. and Mrs. Newlywed
appeared for the first time in pictures in the Funny Side of the Sunday World.
The pictures of the Newlyweds, drawn by George McManus, instantly became
A little more than a year and a half ago the interest
taken in the Newlyweds was further enhanced by the first appearance of the baby
in the pictures. Those who had merely smiled at the Newlyweds laughed at the
Newlyweds and their baby.
Though just plain Americans of moderate income the
Newlyweds and their baby have become known all over the world. They have been
received at two foreign courts, and in this country have been welcomed by
governors, senators, millionaires —everyone.
Victoria, queen of Spain, directed her little son's
governess to write to Mr. McManus a tribute to the humor of the Newlyweds, and
the crown prince of Germany had the Count Bismarck von Bohlenn write a similar
letter in praise of the Newlyweds.
It is the realness of life in the pictures of the
Newlyweds and their baby that makes the public take them in all seriousness.
Scarcely a day has passed since the first appearance of the Newlyweds that the mail
has not brought a score or more of letters to Mr. McManus giving advice and
asking questions about the characters he was drawing.
The announcement made several months ago that the
Newlyweds baby would be named after the best suggestion offered by the public
brought thousands of replies.
For nearly a month hundreds of letters came each day
suggesting a name for the baby. A similar interest was shown at the approach of
the baby's second tooth.
The responses to the requests for a name and the best position
for the second tooth came to Mr. McManus from all parts of the United States
and from many other countries. They came in German French, Italian, Spanish — in
fact, in almost every modern tongue.
The genuineness of the interest taken by the public in the
Newlyweds and their baby is no better illustrated than by the letters received
by Mr. McManus referring to the baby's tooth. A considerable number came from
reputable dentists who in a friendly way chaffed Mr. McManus for not knowing
that a baby's first teeth appeared in pairs and first of all in the lower jaw.
That the followers of the Newlyweds are consistent in
their interest has been shown during the past few months by the letters that
have reached Mr. McManus referring to the failure of the baby to grow up. After
the first year of the baby's appearance scarcely a day passed without letters
being received insisting that it was time the baby began to show signs of his
The remarkable coiffure affected by Mrs. Newlywed
immediately interested everyone. The ability of a woman to do her hair in such
style was doubted by many; and McManus was taken to task in scores of letters
by women who evidently had tried and failed. The doubters were silenced,
however, when Miss Florence Bergere, who took the part of Mrs. Newlywed in a
dramatization of "Panhandle Pete," appeared with her hair dressed in
exactly the style drawn by Mr. McManus. At the same time this style of dressing
the hair became so popular that women with sparse locks rushed to the wig
makers to buy pads to fill out.
Bushels of Letters
The vast number of letters that he receives daily make it
impossible for Mr. McManus to reply to all who write him. He answers as many as
he can, however, especially those whose sincerity is particularly appealing.
Two letters he received a short time ago are but samples of many that have come
to him. One was from St. Louis
and came from a woman who believed herself to be dying. Despite an incurable
illness which confined her to her bed, she wrote her appreciation of the
Newlyweds, declaring they made the time pass quickly. The other letter came in
advance of a cane made entirely from the comic sections of the Sunday World in
a penitentiary in Arizona.
The prisoner, a man sentenced for a long term, wrote of the interest he and his
fellow convicts took in the Newlywed pictures.
The approach of the fourth anniversary of the appearance
of the Newlyweds has brought an increased number of letters to Mr. McManus,
showing that many people have followed the fortunes of the couple throughout
their existence. A large number of the letters contained suggestions for a
suitable celebration of the appearance of the Newlyweds, and especially urged
the adoption of some one day as the baby's birthday.
That the interest taken in the Newlyweds is friendly in
the extreme is shown by the countless suggestions received by Mr. McManus of
new feats for the baby to accomplish. Newspaper clippings from all over the
country containing references to unusual performances of young babies are enclosed
in letters almost daily.
Mr. McManus himself is obliged to do much explaining
among his friends and acquaintances who see in the troubles and joys of the
Newlyweds a fancied reference to a real experience in their own homes. Mrs.
Newlywed, endowed by Mr. McManus with rare beauty, had a host of admirers from
the start, but Mr. Newlywed has been forced to fight his way under the handicap
of his looks. That his rare good nature and extreme devotion to his wife and
baby have been recognized, the correspondence of Mr. McManus proves. The
letters which at first referred only to the sweetness and beauty of Mrs.
Newlywed and the homeliness of Mr. Newlywed have gradually changed in tone,
until now Mr. Newlywed's good, qualities receive as much attention as do those
of his wife.
Of the artist who draws the Newlyweds, George McManus the
Mirror, a St. Louis
magazine, said recently:
"'Tis only a few years ago that, without ever having
had a drawing lesson, he went into the artists' room of the Republic. He did
hackwork, but he did it well, and tried for better work. He tried a cartoon or
two; his work told; he designed some posters in which he aimed at something
like beauty and hit the mark. His work asserted itself, but it brought no
adequate pay. So he hiked to New York,
and in, as we say, no time, he was one of the stars of the comic section of the
World. First he invented Panhandle Pete a cadging tramp. Pete was spread over
the country by the supplement syndicate plan, and he became a national
"But Panhandle Pete's success was nothing to that of
the Newlyweds and their baby, Napoleon. These persons are the delight of
millions. And in the picturing of their troubles there's a fine display of
cleanly humorous fancy. The coarseness of much comic supplement stuff is
absent. The drawings make the woman beautiful — relatively — the husband a
blandly blithering idiot, the baby an incalculable, destructive bawl.
"Father and baby are burlesque, but mamma is pretty
and trim, though ‘just crazy about the baby.' All this goes right home to the
man-in-the-street, or the man-in-the-flat, the clerk, the working man. And the
women—they eat it up. The baby, ugly brat though he be, is a dear. The incidents
are the commonplaces of middle class family life, not so funny as they are
universal, illustrating nothing except that the baby is boss of the ranch, and
that his parents think him the greatest baby that ever happened and worth all
the troubles he makes. The millions look for the Newlyweds, and finding them,
"To these George McManus is the greatest artist in
the world, to whom the great pictorial wits of the French, German and Italian
cartoonists and caricaturists are not to be compared. The secret of McManus'
hit is to be found in his good observation, and in his real sympathy with the
man-in-the-flat, who's a decent
fellow, hard working, ambitious for better things,
self-sacrificing for his family and — as bohemia sees him — about equally
pathetic and absurd, in his bourgeois ideals.
"Under McManus' kindliness runs a little fire of
ironic contempt for the conventionalistic Mr. Newlywed, and perhaps a suspicion
of the exasperation of Charles Lamb with babies when, maddened by their noise,
mockingly be toasted King Herod for the slaughter of the innocents. And the
masses see themselves in the Newlyweds and rejoice in the spectacle of their
ordinariness, their prosaic decency and their servitude to the two-toothed brat
that is none the less their angel child. The masses don't know that they are ironized,
but they know that they are all Newlyweds, and, between their guffaws, secretly
ashamed of it. So
that McManus, wittingly or unwittingly, is a satirist who
sears in spots even as did Hogarth or Cruikshank. He's a cynic even though he
play upon the heart interest, the mother instinct, the home ideal — all dear to
the average person. He smashes hard at paidolatry and the wallowings of
“This cynical savor to McManus' sense of humor is an
inheritance from his father, George McManus of the old Grand Opera house, one
of the best story tellers and dry wits this town has ever known. It may lead
him to better things, in conjunction with the sense which he has for color and
character, though these are absent from the Sunday supplement stuff. It may
lead him in the way of Goya, that bitter Spaniard. When his vogue shall have
passed, as pass it must, if success does not soften his fiber, which it
shouldn't, he may turn to deeper, permanent things and achieve something worth
while, as Glackens and George Luks have achieved in piercing paint.”
Labels: News of Yore