Wednesday, October 03, 2018


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Charles E. Bell

Charles E Bell was born in August 1873, in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The birth date is from the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, however his age in later censuses suggest a birth in 1874. The New York Times, June 12, 1935, said Bell was born in Williamsport.

In the 1880 census, Bell was the third of five children born to C. E. [Charles Edward], a contractor, and Fanny C. The family lived in Williamsport at 106 Upper Vim St.

The New York Times said Bell “joined The [Philadelphia] Inquirer in September, 1898, as an assistant in the art department. His portraits of politicians, sports figures and stage performers became familiar features of the newspaper.”

The 1900 census recorded the Bell family of eight in Williamsport at 523 5th Avenue. Twenty-six-year-old Bell was working as an artist.

Pennsylvania marriage records, at, recorded the union of Bell and Isabelle T. Foley on July 23, 1900 in Philadelphia.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Bell produced three series for the Inquirer. Happy Bridget ran from August 18 to October 6, 1901 with assistance by Clare Dwiggins on September 15. Foolish Questions appeared in the spring of 1909. Third was Isn’t This the Funny World?, running from January 28, 1912 into 1913.

Bell contributed a drawing to Bohemia: Official Publication of the International League of Press Clubs for the Building and Endowment of the Journalists’ Home (1904).

According to the 1910 census, Bell resided in Philadelphia at 5922 Cedar Avenue. He was a newspaper art director. His daughter, Kathryn, was six years old. Bell’s address and occupation were the same in the 1920 census.

Newspaper cartoonist Bell and his family lived in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania at 8225 Manor Road as recorded in the 1930 census.

The Inquirer, May 10, 1935, reported the celebratory activities of “Philadelphia on Parade” at Convention Hall and Commercial Museum. At the Inquirer’s exhibit was Bell.

...But what drew the crowds was the work of Charles E. Bell, Inquirer cartoonist, who in rapid succession sketched well-known figures. Hardly had he started when requests began to flow in. The cartoonist obligingly drew his conception of ball-players, movie actors and other favorites and presented the sketch to the one who had asked that it be made….
Bell passed away June 11, 1935, in Avalon, New Jersey. The Inquirer said Bell was at his summer home. The cause was heart disease.
“Charlie” Bell, as he was known to innumerable intimates and to more than a generation of newspapermen and readers, was as much a historian of the first three decades of Philadelphia’s 20th century with the brush and pen as were his colleagues “on the news side” with their pencils and typewriters.

…Primarily a cartoonist, Mr. Bell had a talent for portraiture, and his heads of persons prominent in the news—politicians, sports figures, men and women of the stage—were familiar features of The Inquirer for many years…

—Alex Jay


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