Thursday, August 18, 2016
Ink-Slinger Profiles: by Alex Jay: Harry F. O’Neill
Harry F. O’Neill was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on September 1, 1891, according to his World War I and II draft cards. In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, O’Neill was the youngest of four children born to Michael and Kate. The family resided in Baltimore at 920 York Road.
The New York Times, April 2, 1958, said a teenage O’Neill “toured the country as a circus and vaudeville acrobat.” In the 1910 census, there is a nineteen-year-old “Harry O’Neil”, born in Maryland, who lived in Manhattan, New York City, at 439 West 22nd Street. The column for occupation was blank.
A 1913 Baltimore city directory listed O'Neill as a driver who resided at 3304 Greenmount Avenue.
The Times said O’Neill was a Baltimore Sun reporter. Having studied art by correspondence, O’Neill was made sports cartoonist and advertising layout artist. He also taught cartooning at the Baltimore Institute.
On June 5, 1917, O’Neill signed his World War I draft card. His address was 3014 Greenmount Avenue in Baltimore. O’Neill was newspaper artist with the Baltimore American. He was described as medium height and build with blue eyes and brown hair.
According to the 1920 census, cartoonist O’Neill was married to Edith and had a son, Eugene, who was 21 months old. The family were Baltimore residents who lived at 3014 Greenmount Avenue.
American Newspaper Comics (2012) said O’Neill’s first strip was Old Pals which began in 1920 and ran to November 5, 1923. His second series for the International Syndicate was Us Kids, which started November 21, 1921 and ended August 4, 1923. His longest running series was Broncho Bill, originally titled Young Buffalo Bill and distributed by United Features Syndicate. Broncho Bill debuted June 7, 1927. O’Neill’s last strip appeared July 8, 1950. Fred Meagher drew six more strips from July 10 to 15, 1950. The Sunday topper was Bumps.
A 1924 Baltimore directory listed Baltimore Sun artist, O’Neill at 3904 Old York Road. Artist O’Neill’s address was 389 Evesham Avenue in the 1926 directory. Commercial artist O’Neill had moved again, as listed in the 1927 directory, to 703 Hillcrest Drive. O’Neill was not listed in the 1928 directory.
The 1930 census recorded O’Neill, his wife and four children in Manhattan, New York City, at 26 Seaman Avenue. O’Neill was a United Press cartoonist. At some point the family moved to the suburbs.
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 1, 1934, published an Abraham & Straus advertisement promoting its Funnies Land event with four cartoonists including O’Neill.
Many newspapers, including the Charleston News and Courier (South Carolina), October 11, 1939, published this item in Charles Driscoll’s column, Day By Day: “Harry F. O’Neill, cartoonist, who has been ill in hospital, is back at his drawing board. His son, Harry, 17, is an art student, draws in his dad’s style, and helps with lettering.”
The O’Neill family were Yonkers, New York residents on Ridge Road, according to the 1936 city directory. The 1940 census said O’Neill was at 1 Prospect Terrace in Yonkers. The household included his wife, four sons and widowed mother-in-law.
O’Neill signed his World War II draft card April 27, 1942. He lived at 142 Alta Avenue in Yonkers and worked for the United Feature Syndicate.
O’Neill passed away March 31, 1958, in Yonkers. The Times said he died in Yonkers General Hospital and lived at 35 Davis Avenue, Rye, New York.
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