Fritzi Ritz, by Larry Whittington

Carl Lawrence "Larry" Whittington is best remembered today as the original creator of 'Fritzi Ritz', a series which rose to bigger fame when he was succeeded by Ernie Bushmiller. While most of Whittington's other comics series, like 'Mazie the Model' and 'Daisy Daily and Dotty Dawn', were short-lived, he had quite a colourful and tragic private life, which brought him in contact with the strong arm of the law twice.

Larry Whittington was born in West Virginia in 1903 as the son of a carpenter. In the early 1920s he joined the Press Publishing Company and drew for their syndicate The New York Evening World. He worked on Gene Carr's comic 'Kitty Kildare' in the first week of October 1922. On 9 October of that same year he created the gag-a-day comic 'Fritzi Ritz'. The series centered around a young Hollywood actress, Fritzi. Many gags are set in film studios or among her glamorous high society friends. 'Fritzi Ritz' featured some sly satire of the "flapper girl" youth subculture that was so prominent during the 1920s. Fritzi was very materialistic and only yearned for money, fashion, cosmetics and rich, attractive men. Whittington's sister, Marjorie, was a member of the Ziegfeld Follies at the time and may very well have been an inspiration for the character. Fritzi on her turn inspired 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) and Max Fleischer's 'Betty Boop' (1930).

Fritzi Ritz, by Larry Whittington

After only three years, Whittington left The New York Evening World in 1925 and joined The New York Mirror where he created another gag-a-day comic, 'Mazie the Model' (25 May 1925-14 April 1928). 'Fritzi Ritz' was continued by Ernie Bushmiller who turned it into a far more succesful newspaper feature, eventually leading to the creation of his own beloved character 'Nancy'. 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' (1937-1938), a comic about two young adult girlfriends.

Later in life, Whittington frequently made headlines by being involved in scandals. In 1928 he, his sister Marjorie and manager Hendrick C. Nelson went out for a night swim. Nelson unfortunately 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 was 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. He survived, but Whittington and his sister were forced to pay a fine of 25 dollars each to the victim.

On 26 November 1942 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

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

Series and books by Larry Whittington in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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