Thursday, May 17, 2018


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: D.T. Carlisle


Donald Thompson Carlisle was born on August 20, 1894, in Council Bluffs, Iowa, according to his World War I and II draft cards.

In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Carlisle and his mother Clara, lived with her parents, Moses and Clara Thompson, in Elgin, Illinois at 416 Chicago Street. The status of Carlisle’s in not known. Carlisle’s grandfather was a civil engineer. Their address was the same in the 1910 census which also recorded a servant in the household.

The earliest signs of Carlisle’s budding artistic talent were in the children’s publication, St. Nicholas. The April 1905 issue featured his art (above) and the July 1905 issue included Carlisle for his drawing. The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 8, 1934, said Carlisle “was a cartoonist on the Chicago Tribune when but 14 years old.”

Carlisle’s college education began at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he was a cartoonist on the yearbook, The Illio 1915.

Carlisle graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1916. In the 1917 yearbook, Blue and Gold, Carlisle was on staff of the publications The Pelican and Brass Tacks, and a member of the Press Club and Alpha Delta Phi.

One of Carlisle’s classmates on The Pelican was Frederick Schiller Faust. Carlisle recalled a story in Max Brand, Western Giant: The Life and Times of Frederick Schiller Faust

The Pelican in our time too frequently came up to the deadline without much material for the next issue, and all hands were forced to stand by and be funny under pressure.

I remember one spring day when everyone else on the staff being A.W.O.L., Heinie and I found ourselves the only two available to put the paper to bed — and with literally nothing on hand worth publishing.

He appeared at my room about four in the afternoon with a bottle of gin and we went at it. By dinner time we had laid out the entire issue and he had written nearly all of the copy besides giving me the gags for most of the cartoons.
On June 5, 1917, Carlisle signed his World War I draft card. His address was 427 Wrightwood Avenue in Chicago. Carlisle was employed at Thielecke Advertising Company where he did agricultural advertising. He was described as tall and slender with blue eyes and light brown hair. Carlisle claimed an exemption due to an unnamed physical disability.

At some point, Carlisle moved to Brookline, Massachusetts. Boston city directories, from 1920 to 1925, listed Brookline resident Carlisle as an advertising representative at 10 State Street, room 905.

The Massachusetts Marriage Index, at, said Carlisle married in 1923 in Brookline. The 1925 Brookline city directory listed Carlisle and Katherine at 56 Marshal. The 1927 Boston directory said Carlisle lived in Foxboro and had the same business address. In the 1928 Boston directory, Carlisle’s listing read, “removed to New York City”.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Carlisle produces Dog Days for the McClure Syndicate. Dog Days debuted January 7, 1929, was retitled Life of Riley on November 25, and ended May 23, 1931. Carlisle’s The Belvidere Hounds was published in 1935.

Carlisle and his wife traveled to Europe. On June 25, 1930, they sailed on the steamship Cleveland from Hamburg, Germany. They arrived in Boston on July 6. Their address was 10 State Street, Boston.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 8, 1934, noted Carlisle’s latest employment.

Donald T. Carlisle, well-known in the commercial advertising, has joined staff of Doremus & Co., Inc. at their New England headquarters office, 20 Kilby street, Boston. Mr. Carlisle was born in Council Bluffs, Iowa. He was a cartoonist on the Chicago Tribune when but 14 years old. He had his first advertising experience with the David Williams Publishing Company at New York in 191?.
At Ancestry,com, the Massachusetts, Mason Membership Card database said Carlisle was a member at the Saint Andrews lodge.

The 1940 census recorded Carlisle, his wife and mother in Foxboro at 57 Granite Street. He was an advertising executive at Alley & Richards in Boston. The same address and employer were written on Carlisle’s World War II draft card which was signed on April 26, 1942. Carlisle’s description was six feet four inches, 185 pounds with blue eyes and gray hair.

Carlisle’s drawings from his book, The Ordeal of Oliver Airedale, were featured in Life, October 6, 1941.

The Century Association Year-Book, 1957, said Carlisle “served with an Army military government unit in Europe; and after the war he translated a long-time interest in animals into a full-time occupation. He was made a vice-president of the New York Zoological Society, and he filled that position the rest of his life. He wrote books about animals, and he reviewed, for The New York Times, books that others wrote about them. To his original writings he added another dimension—illustration—that he described as inexpert; but competent critics hailed it for its whimsical and artistic qualities….”

Carlisle passed away April 6, 1956, in Poughkeepsie, New York. An obituary appeared in the Brewster Standard (New York), April 12, 1956.

Private funeral services for Donald T. Carlisle, 61, vice president of the New York Zoological society, whose death occurred in St. Francis Hospital, Poughkeepsie, on April 5, 1956 were held at Patterson on Sunday.

Mr. Carlisle was a resident of Patterson and New York City. Son of Mrs. Clara Thompson Carlisle and the late John Carlisle, he spent his early years in Elgin, Ill., and later attended the University of Illinois. He received his machelor [sic] of arts degree from the University of California in 1916.

He was a member of Alpha Delta Phi, the Lodge of St. Andrews in Boston, the Tavern club of Boston, the Coffee House and the Century association of New York city.

His wife, Mrs. Katherine Vallandingham Carlisle, is assistant to the alumnae secretary at Vassar College.

For many years Mr. Carlisle was in the advertising business with the Batten Co. in New York, later Batten, Barton, Durstine and Osborne. He served as a lieutenant colonel in American military government in World War II.

In recent years he was a reviewer and illustrator of a number of books on natural history for the New York Times Sunday Book Review, but was best known as a cartoonist. His series, “The Belvedere Hounds,” ran for several years in the “Sportsman” and later was published in a book.
A 1956 issue of Animal Kingdom, by the New York Zoological Society, said 
Donald T. Carlisle, known to many of our members through his membership activities in recent years, died on April 5. The Society’s sense of loss was expressed in the following resolution passed by the Executive Committee:

Whereas, Donald Carlisle entered the service of the Society as a Vice President in 1945 and over a period of eleven years contributed his unusual talents to its purposes, and

Whereas, Donald Carlisle, with great understanding and affection for animal life, devised various means of interpreting the objectives of the Society to large numbers of people, and

Whereas, with charm, wit and artistry he was successful in building up and greatly stimulating public interest in the activities of the Society and thus substantially increasing the numbers of members and contributors to the Society, and
Whereas, his work for the success of the Society’s activities will be of permanent value to it in the future.

Now, therefore, be it resolved that the death of Donald Carlisle is hereby recorded with a great sense of loss both from the point of view of his many admiring friends and associates within the organization of the Society and also because, through his passing, the Society has lost the services of a man of rare gifts and character.

—Alex Jay


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