Walter Frehm was born Walter Friedman on March 11, 1912, in Manhattan, New York, New York, according to the New York, New York Birth Index at Ancestry.com.
In the 1915 New York state census, Frehm was the youngest of four brothers (Solomon, Paul
and Herbert) born to Morris and Ethel, both Hungarian emigrants. The family of six resided in Manhattan at 19 West 118th Street. Frehm’s father was an ice cream salesman.
In the 1920 census, Frehm was “Walter Friedman”. Leonard was the youngest brother. Frehm’s parents were naturalized citizens in 1900. The family lived in Yonkers, New York at 8 Fernbrook Street.
The 1925 New York State Census recorded seven people as Yonkers residents at 209 Buena Vista Avenue. Solomon’s wife was part of the household.
According to the 1930 census, the Frehm family consisted of five members: Frehm, his parents, Leonard and Paul who was a commercial artist. Their home was in Yonkers at 288 Hawthorne Avenue.
In the early 1930s, Frehm followed Paul’s footsteps and attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. At first he studied illustration then switched to cartooning.
The Herald Statesman
(Yonkers, New York), December 11, 1936, published a legal notice stating Frehm and his brothers, Paul and Leonard, had changed their surname from Friedman to Frehm. Leonard
would find work at Fleischer Studios.
The Herald Statesman, November 26, 1938, reported Frehm’s marriage.
Mr. and Mrs. Walter Frehm, whose wedding took place Thanksgiving Day at a quiet ceremony at the Hotel Sharon in New York, are on their honeymoon in the South. The Rev. Dr. David Hollander solemnized the marriage nuptials at 2 P. M.
The bride, who was Miss Estelle Stern, daughter of Emil Stern of 192 Hawthorne Avenue, wore a silver lame gown and a corsage of orchids.
Her attendants were Miss Jeannette Stern, her sister, and Mrs. Benjamin Zimmet. Miss Stern was in rose lame and Mrs. Zimmet in black velvet. Both wore corsages of white roses.
Paul Frehm, a brother of the bridegroom, was best man.
Mrs. Frehm was graduated from Yonkers High School and New York University. Mr. Frehm, a graduate of Pratt Institute, is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Morris Frehm of 274 Hawthorne Avenue.
The 1940 census recorded the couple in Yonkers at 199 Hawthorne Avenue. The head of the household was Frehm’s father-in-law, a widower. Also residing there was Frehm’s sister-in-law Jeannette.
On October 16, 1940 Frehm signed his World War II draft card. His address was 80 Bruce Avenue in Yonkers. Frehm said his employer was cartoonist Ken Kling who lived at 300 Central Park West, New York City. Frehm’s description was five feet eight inches, 150 pounds, with hazel eyes and brown hair.
Frehm’s National Cartoonists Society profile said he assisted Will Gould on Red Barry
and later ghosted Kling’s Joe and Asbestos
. Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999
said he did a small amount comic book work. The Green Mask
appeared in Mystery Men Comics
. American Newspaper Comics
(2012) said the Fox Feature Syndicate distributed The Green Mask as a Sunday strip (two comic book pages, side by side, occupied a half page), from February 7 to August 11, 1940.
In 1958 Frehm joined King Features. The Herald-Journal
(Spartanburg, South Carolina), October 17, 1982, profiled Frehm, on page eight, and said he was offered Ripley’s Believe It or Not
Frehm’s first real encounter with Ripley was during World War II when Ripley telephoned him with the offer of a job. Frehm, however, turned down the job because he was more concerned with completing the work he was doing for the war effort. [In Suburbia Today, July 19, 1981, an article about Ripley’s Believe It or Not said Frehm was “drawing up blueprints for the bombers being built at the General Motors plant in North Tarrytown.]
It was in 1958 when Frehm’s older brother, Paul, a veteran illustrator with King Features (the copyright holder for the strip), called Walter to propose that they both draw “Ripley’s Believe or Not!” Paul had been drawing the strip with various other artists since Ripley’s death in 1949. [Suburbia Today said “… the younger Frehm was merely an assistant. Paul did the main panels—the “shockers”—while Walter did the lettering and drew the minor panels ….”]
For the next 20 years, the brothers faced the monumental task each week of producing at least 21 new drawings—each a new and original item in the Ripley collection of oddities. Their drawings remained faithful to the style originally created by Ripley.
Since Paul’s retirement in 1978, Walter has been drawing all the strips. “We get our items from all kinds of sources and from all over the world,” said Walter. “In fact, we have a regular list of contributors.”
In 1989 Frehm retired from the strip which was continued by others.
Frehm passed away on June 2, 1995, in Boca Raton, Florida. The Sun Sentinel
published an obituary on June 9.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
National Cartoonists Society 1970
Paul Frehm was born on November 1, 1904 or 1905, in Brooklyn, New York. The New York, New York Index to Birth Certificates, at Ancestry.com, said his birth year was 1905. Frehm’s World War II draft card and the Social Security Death Index have the year 1904. The birth certificate also said his parents were Morris Friedman and Ethel Ramer who lived in Brooklyn on Hopkins Street.
The 1915 New York state census recorded Frehm as “Percy Friedman”, the second of four brothers, Solomon, Herbert and Walter. The family of six resided in Manhattan at 19 West 118th Street. His father was an ice cream salesman.
In the 1920 census, Frehm was “Paul Friedman”. Leonard was the youngest brother. Frehm’s parents were Hungarian emigrants who became naturalized citizens in 1900. The family lived in Yonkers, New York at 8 Fernbrook Street.
Around 1923 Frehm enrolled as Paul Friedman at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. The 1924 yearbook, Prattonia, said he was in the General Art class of 1925.
Frehm had two illustrations published in the Jackson News, December 28, 1924.
The 1925 New York State Census recorded a 20-year-old daughter, Beatrice, as part of the Friedman household. She was Solomon’s wife
. The seven people were Yonkers residents at 209 Buena Vista Avenue. Frehm’s occupation was artist.
According to the 1930 census, commercial artist Frehm was a lodger at his parents’ home in Yonkers at 288 Hawthorne Avenue. His youngest brothers, Walter and Leonard, were part of the household.
American Newspaper Comics
(2012) said Frehm drew several Sundays of Chip Collins’ Adventures
in 1935. He did a week of Ted Towers Animal Master
dailies from May 23 to 30, 1936.
The Herald Statesman
(Yonkers, New York), December 11, 1936, published a legal notice stating Frehm and his brothers, Walter
and Leonard, had changed their surname from Friedman to Frehm. Leonard would find work
at Fleischer Studios.
In March 1939 Frehm visited Havana, Cuba. Then in August he went to Bermuda. The passenger lists had his address as 274 Hawthorne Avenue, Yonkers, New York. The same address was in the 1940 census. Frehm, an illustrator, and his brother, Leonard, lived with their parents. All of them had the Frehm surname.
Frehm signed his World War II draft card on October 16, 1940. His address was unchanged. He was employed at the New York Mirror newspaper. Frehm was described as five feet ten inches, 150 pounds, with brown eyes and hair.
The New York State Marriage Index said Frehm married on November 23, 1944 in Yonkers.
Born in Bklyn.—Yonkers H.S. to Pratt I.—Staff artist on N.Y. American–layout & illustration. Transferred to Mirror—then to King Features—top assignment with Damon Runyon covering trial of Bruno Hauptman [sic], kidnapper of Lindberg [sic] baby.—More feature stories and trials then art supervisor of commercial advt for King. Art for Camel cig., Bendix, Goodyear–etc. I helped Bob Ripley when his schedule got rough—when he died I was chosen to carry on feature. 21 yrs now & still gig strong. During war–U.S.O. cartoonist shows sketching the wounded.—Married to Mildred Spector–one son, Andrew, graduated U.S.C.—now with Universal Studios.
... With Ripley gone, the task of feeding illustrations to “Believe It or Not” fell to Paul Frehm—the older brother of the Frehm whom Ripley once offered a job. Paul was an established cartoonist in the King Features stable; it was he, in fact, who got Walter Frehm interested in cartooning in the first place. And it was Paul, in 1958, who succeeded where Ripley failed: in convincing Walter to help with the endless task of turning out “Believe It or Not.”
Paul had established that the Ripley-less “Believe It or Not” would resemble Ripley’s original as much as possible. Ripley’s name remained on the strip; there would be no tampering with success. So when Walter was hired, he learned to adapt his style to match Ripley’s bold, melodramatic pen strokes.
At first, the younger Frehm was merely an assistant. Paul did the main panels—the “shockers”—while Walter did the lettering and drew the minor panels—the Texas-shaped birthmarks, the one-armed trapeze artists and the like. ...
In 1978 Frehm retired and handed the series over to Walter.
Frehm passed away on December 24, 1986, in Florida. The Social Security Death Index said his last residence was Hallandale, Florida.
Further Reading and Viewing
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Here's another 1909 licensed card of Mutt and Jeff, this one featuring just Mutt in a nice faux photograph pose. Mark Johnson has described how cards like this came about in the comments of this previous post.
Labels: Wish You Were Here