So, never thought at work, I'd be on the phone with Bil Keane, the cartoonist behind "Family Circus." My boss asked me a while ago to update the guy's profile since he's a well-known Arizona resident. I had called and called this woman at King Features Syndicate, which runs his strip in 1,500 papers. She never got back to me. Then lo and behold, earlier this week, I see an article about him in a local Phoenix paper. The reporter on that was nice enough to pass Keane's home phone number on to me. A very sweet, very talkative man. He's 83 and still does seven cartoons a week. He lives by himself in a house in Paradise Valley at the base of Camelback Mountain. In case you couldn't guess, that is a very ritzy area. He just came back from spending Fourth of July with his kids at the new house of his son, Glen, who lives in So Cal. A bit of trivia: Glen Keane was the lead animator on Disney's "Tarzan" and animated Tarzan skating down tree branches. Bil was very genial. I felt bad for him. He talked about how his wife Thel, the model for the mom in "Family Circus," has been living 10 minutes away at an assisted living facility for people with Alzheimer's. He tries to visit her every day, sniff. She's still very sweet but has lost all memory and can't really read either. I know this is girly, but I couldn't help but think of "The Notebook," which is also about a man trying to reach out to his wife who's stricken with Alzheimer's.
On a lighter note, I should start posting "weird story of the month ... or week" on here. Some of the stories that come in to AP or in Arizona newspapers are just so bizarre. In Bisbee, a kind of hippie town three hours away from here, a court dropped loitering charges against this man the residents call "Dog-Cat-Mouse guy." His panhandling schtick is he poses with his mouse, which he's trained to climb on his cat, which he's trained to climb on his dog.
Here's a link to a photo.
Bisbee lays off Dog-Cat-Mouse Guy
I think this guy has his own freaky family circus. And apparently he lives in a stinky RV with all his animals. You'll find he didn't spend much time on the names either.