Fritzi Ritz, by Larry Whittington
'Fritzi Ritz'. 

Larry Whittington was an early 20th-century U.S. comic artist, best remembered today as the original creator of 'Fritzi Ritz' (1922-1925), a feature that rose to bigger fame under his successor Ernie Bushmiller. While most of Whittington's other comic series, like 'Mazie the Model' (1925-1928) and 'Daisy Daily and Dotty Dawn' (1937-1938), were short-lived, he had quite a colorful and tragic private life, which on two occasions brought him in contact with the strong arm of the law.

Early life and career
Carl Lawrence "Larry" Whittington was born in 1903 in West Virginia as the son of carpenter. He had three siblings. During his childhood, the familly relocated to Cincinnati, Ohio. Based in New York City in the early 1920s, Larry Whittington joined Joseph Pulitzer's Press Publishing Company and its newspaper/syndicate, The New York Evening World. Between 1 and 8 October 1922, he drew the final two 'Kitty Kildare' Sunday strips, a feature created by Gene Carr in the previous year.

Fritzi Ritz
One day after the final 'Kitty Kildare' page saw print, on 9 October 1922, Whittington launched his own gag-a-day comic 'Fritzi Ritz' for The New York Evening World. The series centers around a young Hollywood actress, and many gags are set in film studios or among the glamorous high society. The series featured sly satire of the "flapper girl" youth subculture that was so prominent during the 1920s. Fritzi is very materialistic, yearning only for money, fashion, cosmetics and rich, attractive men. At the time, Whittington's sister Marjorie was a member of the Ziegfeld Follies and may have been an inspiration for the character. Fritzi in turn predated similar fictional flapper characters like Ethel Hays' and Gladys Parker's 'Flapper Fanny Says' (1924), Chic Young's 'Dumb Dora' (1924) and 'Blondie' (1930), Faith Burrows' 'Flapper Filosofy' (1925), Earl Hurd's 'Susie Sunshine' (1927-1929) and Max Fleischer's 'Betty Boop' (1930).

On 14 May 1925, Whittington left the New York Evening World and passed 'Fritzi Ritz'' on to Ernie Bushmiller. In the years that followed, Bushmiller turned 'Fritzi Ritz' into a far more successful comic strip, and by 1929 the feature received a Sunday comic. A year later, the Press Publishing Company was bought over by the United Features Syndicate, where 'Fritzi Ritz' continued her run. In addition, Bushmiller launched two 'Fritzi Ritz' spin-offs, 'Phil Fumble' and the highly popular 'Nancy'. The latter eventually took over the entire 'Fritzi Ritz' strip, reducing Fritzi to mere side character in Nancy's adventures. 

Fritzi Ritz, by Larry Whittington
'Fritzi Ritz'.

Mazie the Model 
In 1925, Whittington joined The New York Mirror, owned by William Randolph Hearst. Between 25 May 1925 and 14 April 1928, he created another gag-a-day comic, 'Mazie the Model'. Syndicated by King Features, it was basically 'Fritzi Ritz' all over again. Publisher Hearst often bought out newspaper cartoonists from rival papers to have them create a similar hit series in his own papers. The only difference was that Fritzi aspired to become an actress, while Mazie wanted to be a fashion model. As is often the case with copies, 'Mazie the Model' never saw the same success as 'Fritzi Ritz'. After its cancellation in 1928, the feature briefly returned into reprint circulation in 1930-1931 through the the Columbia Newspaper Service.

Other comics
In 1932, Whittington illustrated Assen Jordanoff's manual 'Flying and How to Do It'. For the weekly New York magazine Hastings News, he drew 'Daisy Daily and Dotty Dawn' (19 March 1937- 11 March 1938), a comic about two young adult girlfriends.

Later in life, Whittington frequently made headlines because of his involvement in scandals. In 1928 he, his sister Marjorie and manager Hendrick C. Nelson went out for a night swim. Nelson got struck by swimmers' cramp and drowned. According to the police report, Whittington had tried to save him, but eventually had to choose between him and his sister, who was also in grave danger and in huge shock over their friends' death. In 1930, Whittington had a car accident in which he broke his right arm. This prevented him from drawing for a long while. In 1932, he had another run-in with the law when he and his sister were arrested for public disturbance. During a party in Lake Archer, Whittington reportedly got drunk and became very angry when he noticed a guest kicking his sister. He stabbed the man with a knife. The victim survived, but Whittington and his sister had to pay a fine of 25 dollars each to the victim.

On 26 November 1942, Larry Whittington was hit by a car while crossing a street in Long Island, New York City. He died half an hour later in St. John's hospital, only 39 years old. 

Mazie the Model by Larry Whittington
'Mazie the Model', 1927.

Larry Whittington's Ink Slinger profile on the Stripper's Guide

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