Wednesday, April 01, 2015


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Audrey Blum

Audrey Anthony Blum was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on January 11 or 12, 1918. On November 5, 1919, Alex Blum, her father, submitted his Petition for Naturalization, which included the birth dates of his wife, Helen, born August 17, 1886, and daughter, January 11, 1918. In an interview published in Alter Ego, #99, January 2011, Audrey’s husband, William “Bill” Bossert, thought she was born on January 12, 1918.

In the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Audrey and her parents resided in Philadelphia at 1001 Pine Street. Her father’s occupation was newspaper illustrator, while her mother’s occupation said “none.” In fact, Audrey’s mother was an artist according to Who’s Who in American Jewry (1926) which published this entry:

Blum, Helen Abrahams:
Artist; b. Aug. 17, 1886, Phila., Pa.; d. Simon and Theresa Abrahams; ed. Public and high schools (awarded four year scholarship); School of Design for Women, Phila.; Academy of Fine Arts; m. Alex A. Blum, Jan. 17, 1917, Phila., Pa. Exhibited at Phila. Art Club, Water Color Show, 1909; portraits purchased by William Chase (noted artist and teacher); 1910, won second Water Color Prize at Wanamaker Exhibit; Still life picture in oil purchased by permanent collection of Fellowship of Academy Fine Arts, 1915; exhibited in various galleries throughout country. Designed scenery and costumes for Little Theatre Movement; managed, staged and acted in various religious orgs, in Phila.; participated in many artistic pageants and plays. Author of a short story, numerous articles, etc. Fellow: Penna. Academy Fine Arts. Member: Rodolph Shalom Sisterhood; Internatl. Peace Movement. Address: 3303 Queen Lane, Germantown, Pa.
The 1930 census recorded Audrey, her parents and brother, Robert, in Philadelphia at 3303 West Queen Lane. Sometime in the early 1930s, Audrey’s family moved to New York City where her father had previously lived and worked beginning in 1900, the year he emigrated from Hungary.

In Classics Illustrated: A Cultural History (2001), William B. Jones, Jr. wrote:

…Around 1938, [Alex] Blum signed on with the Eisner-Iger shop; it was an association that lasted until 1954. The artist’s daughter, Audrey (“Toni”) Blum Bossert, also joined the team in 1938 as a scriptwriter.3…
Jones’s source for the dates was Who’s Who of American Comic Books, 1928–1999. I believe Audrey joined the Eisner and Iger Studio in 1937. According to Who’s Who and Bossert, Audrey’s nickname was Toni; some of her pen names included Toni Blum, Toni Boone, Toni Boon and Toni Adams.

The Eisner and Iger Studio’s syndicate was called Universal Phoenix Features and one of its comic strips was Stars on Parade which originally had a “Lora Lane” byline. Below are two samples from Alter Ego #99 which reproduced them from Jerry Iger’s Classic Jumbo Comics #1. The strip dated November 22, 1937 was signed “Toni Rossett”. Another strip, December 6, 1937, was unsigned.

I believe Audrey was the writer on the series because the byline was a woman’s name and the artist’s signature has Audrey’s nickname, Toni. It’s not clear who drew these two strips. According to Who’s Who of American Comic Books, 1928–1999, the Eisner and Iger Studio personnel, in 1937, included Bernard Baily, Dick Briefer, Don de Conn, Will Eisner, Lou Ferstadt, Robert Golden, Jerry Iger, Bob Kane, Jack Kirby, Les Marshall, and Itwin Myers. Will Eisner drew several strips under various pen names, including Willis B. Rensie and Carl Heck, and in various styles. Maybe, Toni Rossett, was another Eisner pen name.

It’s not known if any newspaper published Stars on Parade in 1937. The name of the series apparently originated in the Jerry Iger-edited Wow—What a Magazine! #1. Some of the strips appeared in half-a-dozen issues of Jumbo Comics beginning in 1938. American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Stars on Parade ran in the Brookshire Times in 1938, and 32 strips appeared in the Philadelphia Tribune from November 16, 1939 to June 27, 1940. These strips carried the Toni Rossett byline. A few of the strips were signed “Gustafson”, a name not found in the Eisner and Iger Studio. At least two strips, below, were signed by Bernard Baily who was in the Eisner and Iger Studio.

In 1939 Eisner ended his partnership with Iger. Audrey continued working for Iger until 1942, when she joined the Eisner Studio.

The 1940 census recorded Audrey in her father’s household. They resided in Manhattan, New York City at 60 East 94th Street. Her occupation was writer.

Bossert 1939

In 1942, Audrey married Bill Bossert whom she met when he joined the Eisner and Iger Studio in 1939, the year he graduated from Pratt Institute. The Daily Argus (Mount Vernon, New York), August 17, 1951, profiled Audrey and said she had been married for nine years. Bossert served in the army during World War II; he enlisted March 7, 1941.

The Daily Argus profile of Audrey said:

…During World War II Mrs. Bossert was a nurse’s aide at Bellevue, worked with service men’s wives for the American Association for the United Nations, and studied story writing at Columbia University. Her friends were other wives whose husbands were in service.
…Before her marriage, Mrs. Bossert did some acting at a Summer theater near Newburgh, radio work on dramatic programs, and extra work for a movie company in New York. She says “I didn’t have success, but I did have lots of fun.”
The New York Sun, April 16, 1945, published a list of wounded soldiers and it included Bossert:
Pacific Area: Bossert, William T., capt.; Mrs. Audrey A. Bossert, 60 E. 94th st.
The Brooklyn Eagle (New York), September 26, 1945, said: “Capt. William T. Bossert of 235 86th St….is a civilian again and expects to return to his former work as a commercial artist.” He served his country again during the Korean War. The 1951 profile of Audrey in the Daily Argus said:
…Last April as a member of the Pleasantville Players, she played the lead in “The Women” by Clare Booth Luce, presented for the benefit of the Westchester Mental Hygiene Association. Rehearsals took almost two months. Once a week she meets with a sketch group and is teaching herself to draw from her husband’s old anatomy book.
Mrs. Bossert entertains friends and their husbands at her home frequently. She advises others in similar circumstances to do the same. She finds activities with others more satisfying than trying to entertain herself.
…This Summer she has been busy taking her own and neighbors’ children to the pool and visiting her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Alex Blum of Rye. Mr. Blum is a well known painter and etcher. Mrs. Bossert also spends hours talking with adolescent children who drop in to see her about their problems.
The big question facing her now is next Winter. “I’m scared of it,” she admits. With Tommy in kindergarten, and baby-sitters to stay with Jill, she hopes to get into school activities, participate in civic affairs, and continue the art and drama group work.
Bossert came home after his service in the army and resumed his commercial art career.

The Boston Traveler (Massachusetts), April 2, 1956, printed the Associated Press report on the Thomas Alva Edison Foundation’s award-winners in the comic book field. The winning publishers received a scroll while the artists and writers were given citations and $100 cash prizes at the Waldorf-Astoria luncheon. In the category, Best Comic Book for Children Under 8, the winner was Gliberton’s Ugly Duckling, which was drawn by William A. Walsh, of Colonia, New Jersey, and written by Audrey, of Pleasantville, New York. Audrey’s father also worked for Gilberton during the 1950s.

The Herald Statesman (Yonkers, New York), August 9, 1962, reported the Bossert family-of-five’s month-long trip to the Far West.

Audrey’s father passed away September 5, 1969, in Rye, New York.

Audrey passed away in either 1972 (Who’s Who) or 1973 (Bossert’s date in his Alter Ego interview; he said the cause was breast cancer). Audrey has not been found in the Social Security Death Index, which recorded Bossert’s passing on June 5, 2013.

—Alex Jay


Examples of the "Stars on Parade" strip can be found in the Fulton County History archive (Search for "Toni Rossett"). The one you post above with Constance Bennett ran in the _Long Island News and The Owl_ on 26 Mar 1943.
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