Mt. Vernon Register News, 25 May 1955.

Murray Olderman was a celebrated American sports cartoonist, active from 1952 until 1985. He was best known for caricaturing sportspeople and writing additional information about them within the same picture. Olderman furthermore drew 'TV in Sight' (1959-1960), which did the same for TV stars and series. The man was also a well respected sports columnist who won several awards throughout his career.

Early life
Murray Olderman was born in 1922 in Manhattan, New York, as a child of Russian-Jewish immigrants. His father worked in the garment district of Manhattan, while his mother was a housewife. Nevertheless his childhood was mostly spent in Spring Valley, New York. Olderman was a sports fanatic from a young age and originally wanted to be a sportswriter. Some of his earliest sports columns were published when he was still a teenager. At the same time, Olderman tried to capture his love for these games in drawings. He ranked sports cartoonists Willard Mullin and Leo O'Mealia among his graphic influences. Much of his graphic skills were acquired through practice, trial and error. He never went to any art school. Instead he studied journalism at the University of Missouri, where, in 1941, he was able to publish one of his drawings in The Columbia Missourian. The eager young man studied humanities at Stanford University and gained even more journalistic degrees at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. At all universities he achieved bachelor's degrees. Olderman was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.

During World War II Olderman was drafted and promoted to lieutenant. Through an army program, he studied French and German. Yet by the time he arrived in France, the Nazis were on the point of surrendering. He therefore made himself useful not in combat, but by interrogating suspected war criminals in preparation to the Neurenberg trials. In 1970 Olderman returned to Europe where he interviewed Hitler's former architect Albert Speer for the Newspaper Enterprise Association.

Early career
In 1947 Olderman's career took off as a staff member of the Sacramento Bee and Minneapolis Star. Around the same period he made the feature 'Centennial Vignettes' (1947-1948) for the associated McClathy Newspapers, which was a weekly panel about figures in California history.

Sports cartoons
In 1952 the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA) hired him to develop a daily sports comic strip. Rather than think up fictional characters, Olderman caricatured real-life athletes. A typical cartoon featured one large caricature with additional doodles and trivia written and scribbled around it within the same panel. He continued his sports cartoons for 35 years. At the height of their circulation his cartoons could be read in more than 750 U.S. newspapers. In 1985 he retired as newspaper cartoonist, but kept writing and drawing for the rest of his life. He was still active for the NEA too, until the service was overtaken by a larger corporation.

Sports writing and other initiatives
Olderman was sports editor of the NEA by 1964, moved up to executive editor four years later and was contributing editor from 1971 until 1987. He moved to San Francisco at this latter occasion. His sports columns could be read in Sport and The Saturday Evening Post. Olderman wrote biographies about American football players Bart Starr ('Starr: My Life in Football', 1987) and Al Davis ('Just Win, Baby- The Al Davis Story, 2012). Many of his other books about sports, usually American football, were illustrated with his own cartoons. Apart from writing and drawing about sports, Olderman took several promotional initiatives. He founded the NEA All-Pro Team (1952-1992), the Jim Thorpe Trophy (1955-2008) for "Best American football player" and the Maurice Podoloff Throphy (1955) for "Best Basketball Player". He was interviewed as part of Peter Miller's documentary 'Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story' (2010).

TV in Sight
Apart from sports, Olderman created a weekly cartoon feature 'TV in Sight' (1959-1962), with caricatures of TV stars or information about TV shows or upcoming broadcasts. They were distributed by the NEA in several local newspapers as illustrations for their TV sections.

Recognition
The National Cartoonist Society awarded Murray Olderman the "Sports Cartoon Award" twice, namely in 1974 and 1978. Olderman received the Pro Football Writers Association Dick McCann Memorial Award (1979) and was inducted in both the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame (26 April 1993), International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame (1997) and Medill Hall of Achievement (2014). Several of his caricatures of famous sportspeople are exhibited in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Death
Murray Olderman passed away in 2020 at age 98.

Books about Murray Olderman
For those interested in Olderman's life and career, his autobiography 'Mingling With Lions: The Greats of Sports Up Close' (Seven Locks Press, 2004) is highly recommended. The book 'A Year Apart... Letters from War-Torn Europe' (Saint Johann Press, 2013) collects letters Olderman wrote to his wife while he fought in Europe during World War II. The finest overview of all his sports writings and cartoons is 'The Draw of Sport' (Fantagraphics, 2017).

Series and books by Murray Olderman in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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