tv Cartoonist Bill Maudlins Post- World War II Career CSPAN December 29, 2016 10:40pm-11:29pm EST
friday american history in prime time features more programs about world war ii. at 8:00 p.m. examining the origins of the cold war. u.s. democracy and international relations. at 10:55, a look at the legacy of the cold war. world war ii and the impact on the world, 8:00 a.m. eastern here on c-span3. friday, book tv in prime time features the "new york times" book review, notable books of 2016. 8:00 p.m. eastern beth may -- macy on true vine. after that michael hayden on playing to the edge, american intelligence in the age of terror. later carol anderson, white
rage, the unspoken truth of our racial divide. "new york times" book review notable books of 2016, 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span2. author of the presidency in black and white, my up close view of three presidents and race in america. princeton professor eddie glaude. and associate editor of the "washington post" david marinus. watch from noon to 3:00 p.m. eastern on sunday on book tv on c-span2. sergeant bill maldinwas a
cartoonist during world war ii showcasing the hardships of the war through his characters willie and joe. he continued his work after the war and won two pulitzer prizes in 1945 and 1959. next, a look at mauldin's post car cartooning career. this program begins with an eight-minute world war ii film about the emotional scars of the war. two of the most famous soldiers of world war ii were the g.i.s willie and joe, cartoon characters created by the great bill mauldin, who are beloved by the servicemen overseas for their frank representation of what it was like two a grunt at the front. mauldin knew that. like the actual war veterans,
v willie and joe's story wasn't going to end when they came home. our next speaker has focused his work on sharing veterans' stories with his veterans breakfast club and is also the biographer of mauldin. we think there's no one better to come and talk about coming home. before he takes the podium, we will see our next oral history showcase, the 2000 yard stare, where veterans discuss their emotional and mental wounds that they brought home with them, while also having to readjust to civilian life in the real post-war world. ♪
death, i was. >> i guess at that time that's why i never expected to make 21. >> i never wanted off on an island so bad in my life. ♪ >> there's always in combat there's pucker time and then there's relaxing time. palalu it was all pucker. there was no relaxing time at all. >> as i crawled along, i saw this huge bunker, bigger than this room. and i could hear all these chatter in there. and there was a couple outside that were shouting to them back and forth that they'd either seen me or knew i was out there. i don't know. but i took my ar and i let those two guys have the most of that
20 rounds. they had an aperture about 10 feet across and about a foot and a half high maybe. i just pushed it in the corner of that aperture and pulled the striker and started the time fuse. and i saw a bomb crater about 50 yards away and i made a run for it. just as i dove in the bomb crater, boom, that whole damn bunker just went up. and when that was over, there was no more chatter going on inside the bunker. >> that night, we had an attack by, i don't know, about a dozen japanese or something, came into our line. this one jap came at me and i had eight rounds in one. so as he came at me, i shot him
right through the head. as his rifle came down, it went through the side of my knee and he fell on top of me because i was below. blood pouring out of his head and some got in my mouth and what have you. so i immediately pushed him off. and i knew he was dead. we didn't get another attack that night. >> set it up a few yards behind. one of them went up there and heard some japanese or something. they came back and called for a flame thrower. the thing was about, i guess, 50 or 70 foot long. i don't know how many was in there. there was a bunch of them. and down to the end there was a sergeant and a couple men. they were laying down on sand there in bushes. smoke and fire and japanese came out there then right on top of them.
they were scrambling too. but they had a bunch of stuff in there and it was still burning when we left there late that afternoon. and if you got around there you could smell. if you've ever smelled human flesh burning, it's a smell you don't ever forget. >> our first sergeant, burt, was a red head. he had a handlebar mustache. i remember burt when we were on the island and going to chow one time. burt was standing outside his tent. he had some scissors. he was trimming his mustache. i said, burt, it don't make no damn difference anyway. burt turned around. he had 17 years in the corps at that time. he was no spring chicken. he turned around and he said son
kn , i'll live to piss on your grave. and that was burt. >> when we landed, first day, i remember jumping across the small trench and looking down and there laying in the damn trench face up was burt. i remember when i jumped across there and saw burt, i thought, by god, you didn't make it, burt. you didn't live to piss on my grave. but i can still see him clear as a bell. ♪ he was a good boy. >> well, at that moment we were up on the ridge. and they kept telling us not to
get our head up in the air or somebody would shoot it off. and the captain was a person you didn't tell what to do. he was that kind of a person. that's all. all. and he stuck his head up at the wrong time and somebody popped him. i had blood on my jacket for a long time after that. so you know, it stuck with me for quite some time. i often wonder why i walked away and others didn't. >> i can remember when i got shot and came back to the beach for evacuation. it seemed like every 10 feet you're stepping over a body. it was a grave. it
>> what an honor it is for me to be part of this rhetoricable conquer -- remarkable event and what a pleasure for me to talk about for the first time really, bill mauldin's back home cartoons instead of his up front cartoons he did overseas or from the front lines of europe. they're of course his best-known work, a masterpiece of the 20th century and those are the cartoons i usually talk about. i rarely get asked if ever to speak with the cartoons and events that happened to mauldin that he did when he returned home from war, but i think the work he did when he returns -- returned home are on parks is on par in many ways with the work he did overseas in terms of its insight. on june 10, 1945, sergeant bill mauldin
returned home from war. he was a celebrity and a millionaire. he catapulted to fame with his drawing hand, penning gritty, sardonic cartoons in "stars and stripes" that cheered the folks up and taught the folks back home a bit about the in -- lives of the infantry men and women in europe. now he had a lucrative deal with a syndicate and a hollywood movie deal. he was on the cover of "time" magazine, over 300 newspapers around the country carried his cartoons. agents, politicians, movie stars, army generals all clamored for a meeting with the 23-year-old sergeant. even
eleanor roosevelt demanded that he come by for tea. that wasn't bad for a high school dropout from rural new mexico who had left home at age 14 at the hited of the great depression. he had joined the arizona national guard in 1940 because he needed shoes, a new coat, and three meals a day. he would have been rejected for being malnourished and underweight if he had been given a physical, but he never was, so instead he became an infantry rifleman who started cartooning on the side. he really focused on the mud, the marches, the equipment, the mean sergeants in the pre-pearl harpor army and the men in his division just loved him instantly for it. after shipping overseas he was discovered by
"stars and stripes," which had the largest circulation of any newspaper in the world. he pent 1943 to 1945 traveling the font lines and bearing witness to the hard lives and frequent deaths of those condemned in the foxholes. "wished i could stand up and get some sleep." this cartoon always makes me think of something that snoopy said in "peanuts" once. you know, if you read the comics on veterans day snoopy was going to go out and quaf a few roolt bears with bill mauldin. in one cartoon, i can't remember the year, somebody asked snoopy why do you love bill mauldin so much, and snoopy says "because he drew great mud." his cartoon feature "up front by mauldin" starring dog faces willy and joe, became a smash hit in europe and unexpectedly as a syndicated feature back home. in may 1945
he won the pulitzer prize, the youngest in history and i think he still is. at the time he had never heard of the prize and an officer had to explain to him, this is a really big deal. now back home, out of the army and at peace, citizen mauldin faced his future with dread. "i'm a rookie out there," he said, "i went into the army and i knowing in about civilian life." now he had to meet his real family, his -- his wife, jean, who he hadn't seen in years and a child, bruce, who he had only seen in photographs. how could he pretend to represent the struggles of ordinary servicemen readjusting to civilian life? i put this one in here just because i think i like it so much. it's willy and joe running into an old officer. "major wilson, bag in uniform, i see." [laughter] it seemed almost
blasphemous to have willy and joe survive and carry on. if these guys were real, he said, they would have been dead long ago. his plan had been to kill them on the last day of the war but his editors at "stars and stripes" forbade it so he approached his new editors at the sinned i canay. "give me some time off," he pleaded the "i can't shift overnight from doing combat cartoons to domestic cartoons." the syndicate refused. mauldin was making them a lot of money and he would be expected to deliver five cartoons a week for the next three years. as it turned out, he had a lot more in common with veterans who had been away from home too long than he would have wished. today we remember the times square kiss and i ticker tape parade but as bill pointed out at the time, hardly any of the soldiers and sailors partying in the streets on vj
day had been overseas. most dogfaces were still languishing in europe on -- or heading to the pacific and the lucky few at home stayed away from the parade. this was a commentary on a huge parade thrown for generals patton and doolittle in 1945. you can see willy and joe there and they're kind of upset because all the bars are closed. returning soldiers' wives might have greeted them with hugs and kisses, but feelings of euphoria faded quickly. more lasting was the awkward silence that grew in the gaps between husbands' and wives' wartime experienced.
"honey, i've only worn it for a week." [laughter] mauldin experienced this awkwardness when he met up with his wife, jean, in los angeles and met his 22-month-old son bruce for the first time. "i have discovered that two people who have been living alone and apart for two years doing pretty much as they damn please, have a hard time getting together." they butted heads constantly. jean seemed a stranger and he felt like an intruder. even more disillusioning for bill was the prejudices jean seemed to share with other husbanded' wives who asked why their husbands hadn't made officer grade or why they refused to show off the ribbons once in a while and what about the finery, silk scarves from paris? other wives had received them. why hadn't sne this is another one. her husband spent months shopping for nice things in europe, willy. you never did that for me. jean noticed willy
seemed to be holding back. jean had secrets of her own -- "don't get so huffy. you talked in your sleep, too. " the rubs between husband and wife that informed so many of mauldin's early postwar cartoons was but the the leading edge of a gap that grew into a chasm when it came to cock bat veterans. they represented only 10 -- 5 to 10% of uniformed personnel. ease had relentlessly shown in his willy and joe cartoons, the american army was really two armies, one that fought and the other that didn't. up front had chronicled how those farthest removed from combat claimed the lion's share
of benefits -- alcohol, ribbons, good clothing, good food, hot baths, black market luxuries and women. bill was stunned to see this disparity extended to the home front. soldiers who had never had never ventured to within five miles of the front now demanded free drinks in bars and harassed young civilians like bill who that he queuesed of being 4-f. ain't you going buy a war hero a drink? the public, it seemed, had learned nothing from willy and josme the public remained ignorean. of the war's true nature. less than four months after he returned home, his home life collapsed under the revelations of their mutual infidelities during the separation. bill had had girlfriends in europe. jean had had a boyfriend back home. so
jean and bill joined the hundreds of thousands of other couples who made the year 1946 a record-breaking one for divorce. never had so many marriages broken up and it would take another 40 years for our nation's divorce rate to match that of 1946. bill and jean had become a statistic. 9 breakup of bill's marriage marked a dramatic change in his cartooning. always a meticulous pin and ink craftsman, bill had spent distressingly little time at the drawing board since coming home and the uneven results showed the neglect. in one, he scolds for not wearing rubbers, "you will catch your davegt cold." the very next day though he previewed a new art. in a cartoon some newspapers refused to print, a soldier, face obscured, stands at the victory bar in california. a -- six hatch marks climb his left
sleeve, indicating three years of combat overseas. the bartender tums back to a handwritten sheet taped over the mirror. "snojaps allowed, can't you read signed?" he says be of the soldier. bill saw these guys in italy. the most decorated fighting unit in world war ii history. racial scrim -- offended bill to the core. as a dirtd-poor runt from the desert southwest, he faced his share of bullying and prejudice. "it's just that i don't like a man being called unequal nell gets a chance to prove his inequality." he would later say. this came at a time of personal crisis when he could no longer bear the compound disillusionments of his
homecoming. he needed a crusade to just not only his cartoons but the whole catastrophe of the war to which he had borne such eloquent witness. during the war, willy and joe's camaraderie served as partial redemption for the brutalizing conditions of their existence. now the real willy and joe were in the shadows, misunderstood and overlooked, alienated survivors out of the tens of millions dead. their sacrifice -- bill always hated that word and refused to use it -- seemed for naught in a country that denied equal rights to citieses and deemed to be gearing up for world war iii against erstwhile ally the soviet union. while overseas, mauldin had avoided
ideological outbursts and never allowed partisan politics into his cartoons. back home, however, he jumped into the political fray with both feet. he moved to new york city and began giving speeches, offering interviews and joining all manner of organizations demanding civil rights, free speech, labor recognition, public housing, support for displaced persons in europe. a strong united nations and a warmer alliance with the soviet union all in the name of redeem:00 the suffering of willy and joe. his cartoons from these four months found many targets for his ire, from conservative pundits and politicians like this one -- this is a commentary on somebody -- bill picked out people to hate. he really hated some people and one he really
hated was senator bilbo from mississippi. he was a seg regularationist. you can see the sign on the podium says senator balbo. "where's the communist that throws the egg"? and he took owes hiss ire on a media he thought was ginning up a new red scare. and here durning the man in the shotgun is labeled "house un-american activities committee" followed by a can you clux klansman and tracking bear prints with a hammer and sickle in them and he says to a bystander, investigate memorandum -- investigate them in they're my posse. and after the war, "go home, junior, you're making me look silly." as bill increased the term -- tempo of hits attacks on the
conservative right, newspapers began dropping mauldin's cartoons. united features syndicates scolded bill that if he wanted to save his career and cans -- cartoons he would have to straighten up, clean up his act and drop the offensive politics. p such talk only raised bill's hackles and changed his occasional political changed his occasional political commentary in an ongoing act of defiance. by february 1946 he was losing papers at a record rate, one a day. united features tried anything and everything to get bill to moderate his messages, but nothing worked. finally to stop the hemorrhaging. editors resorted to his contract's small print which permitted them to censor bill's drawings and captions as they saw fit. they went to work immediate hi redacting offending words, names, and phrases. soon the syndicate was making
wholesale changes that altered the entire meanings of his cartoons. i've just selected two here to give you an example. here's one, the top caption is mauldin's original. the syndicate didn't like it and xed that out and rewrote the caption. >> i don't think i understand that. i read it many times and i've never really gotten it. here's another example. it's a man giving a speech at a fancy dipper and this is bill's original caption. that was replaced. on average, at least one mauldin cartoon a week fell astronomy united features' razor, white-out and blue pencil. this censorship stunned
and outraged bill. during his five years in the army he had been censored only only three occasions, each time for drawing a detalede drawing of equipment. he drew too well. now he found himself effectively silenced for the first time in his life. he had wanted to be a cartoonist since age 11, not only for the promise it held for a natural-born talent without access to education but because as a child bill possessed a powerful desire to be heard, to thumb his nose at authority and to bring attention to his many grievances. "i'm touchy," he admitted in years later. "if i see a stuffed shirt, i want to punch it. if it's big, hit it.
you can't do far wrong." bill hit back hard through 1946. every time an editor bitched about my drawing a race relations cartoon, he later recalled, i drew eight or 10 of them in a row. bill's anger sometimes got the better of his cartoons, turning them into blunt force instruments that lacked subtlety and the satiric insights of his best efforts. although pill would never admit it, the syndicate editors occasionally improved his drawing by toning down the stridency. here's an example. he had drawn a nazi eagle and swastika on the door and the syndicate removed that just to allow the readers -- readers to focus on the door. it says un-american committee for the investigation of activities and the man says where's that
gol-durn sign painter? it didn't matter whether the swastika was taken offer the door. roy howard from scripps-howard took one look at this cartoon and dropped mauldin entirely from the paper. he accused mauldin. he sought him out, wanted to tell him why -- he says is -- said you are a communist sympathizer and we can't have that in the paper. mauldin say himself in the grip of a stifling situation. your stuff is merchandised and sold like soap with an eye to pleags the greatest number of customers most of the time. you don't fee the greatest number of customers most of the time. you don't fn l the greatest number of customers most of the time. you don't fg l the greatest number of customers most of the time. you don't feeg the greatest number of customers most of the time. you don't fee the greatest number of customers most of the time. you don't feel like you are creating, but you are manufacturing. instead of distributing instinct, relevant and immediately meaningful products, syndicates, he said, sold standardized, gutless comics and columns. the trick, bill concluded, was to regain possession of his craft, to produce intelligent and honest cartoons resistant to censurors.
he got a drawing table at the times where he said i could at least feel like i was doing individual work on an individual publish carkse not trying to please every blasted editor atd every blasted paper in america. the strategy worked. his cartooning improved rapidly after a six-week hiatus in february and m the break gave him a chance to react to the thin-skinned editors. he said, i let fly with a sledgehammer whether i should have used a needle. cartoons are no good it they're soap-boxy and pontifical. they have to be thrust gently so the victim doesn't know he's been stabbed
until he has six inches of steel in his innards. bill regained his balance as a craftsman. he still did battle with the syndicate and wrapped up some new enemies, including f.b.i. director j. edbarr hoover, who took personal offense at this cartoon and eventually ordered mauldin placed under surveillance. the headline is "still no clues on lynchers of four in georgia. "this is a reference to i think the last mass lynching in america, 1946, four veterans, one of whom was a veteran of the pacific war. the f.b.i. was accused of dragging their feet in the investigation
and the caption was "i see the f.b.i. cleared up another big postage stamp robbery." there would be no classic happy ending for bill. he simply got used to disillusion. "it's very tough to live in this country and cling to young ideals," he lamented. the deepening conflict between the united states and the soviet union cast a pall on his hopes for a brighter future. he stim detested red-baiting but he increasingly blamed the soviets for the gloomy world situation. america would be on the verge of giving this burgeoning stand ive name -- the cold war. loyalty tests, domestic snooping, and i massive new rarms race would soon follow. in april 1948 when his united features syndicate contract ran out, bill quilt cartooning altogether as he had
originally wished to do whether he came home in 1945. he would return to it only after a decade of airplane flying, hollywood acting, a tour of president front in korea, and even a run for congress. but the mauldin who returned to the drawing board in 1958 was a different man in a different world. far removed from the triumph and tragedy of 1. 46, year zero. thank you. [applause] >> we have time for questions. >> i want to put in a plug here. i've heard todd's talk on up front and it's fantastic as well. would you talk about bill mauldin's death? that's one of the more poignant stories i've heard for a vet this era. >> thank you for that softball question. yes, i will talk about mauldin's death. he suffered
from alzheimer's. he scalded himself in the bathtub, third degree burns from his neck to his knees and would later die from those injuries. he languished in a rehab facility and nursing home. he stopped speaking. he didn't seem to recognize friends ands family. and one veteran, a man i got to know extremely well, a combat veteran from the pacific, he worshipped bill mauldin and heard mauldin was ailing and he went and drove 200 miles to visit him in the nursing home. he satd with mauldin, shared clippings old cartoons, kind of held bill's hand and told his story and at the end of this w clippings old cartoons, kind of held bill's hand and told his story and at the end of this meeting, jay pulled out a combat patch, and he pinned that badge on bill's pajamas. he looked up beaming with a smile, and jay said, bill do you want me to come back? and bill uttered his
first words in months, yes. and so jay started giving talks, if you are a veteran, combat veteran, here's your chance to meet bill mauldin and thank him for what he did for you during the war. they came on average at a dozen a day, these veterans. they came with their wearing their all caps and their memorabilia in hand, and they would shuffle in and get 10-15 minutes with bill, and they would come out crying and walk out. thereafter day it was like this. abc and cnn did a story on this and invited americans, hey, if you want to send bill a card,
please do so. 10,000 cards and letters came to that nursing home within the next few months, so many that the family could not even open the mall and read them to bill. eventually i did to write the biography, and they are absolute marvels. it they are wonderful documents and themselves because they share the veterans stories and often point out a particular cartoon that they remember that was meaningful to them and their service, and these letters are a national treasure and have then exhibited around the country, and i hope they do more. so
thank you very much for that question. [applause] >> all right, we have one in your left over here. >> as i recall, bill mauldin appeared with audie murphy in the red badge of courage. can you comment on what that expense was and the iconic role ironic role of audi murphy appearing in that movie? >> john houston had a vision that he was going to make the movie, and make it without actors. he recruited audie murphy and bill mauldin to star in that. bill mauldin thought the guy was crazy, but love to john houston and the pay was really good, so he agreed to work. bill mauldin said it was mayhem. there was a book about this written by lillian ross, picture , and it was mayhem from
start to finish. audie murphy had severe posttraumatic stress problems. when they were not shooting the movie, he would go out and get into a bar fight. he would show up with a broken nose and bruises and they would have to cover it up to film. he would not talk to mauldin, would hardly look at him. he called him a rear echelon ink slinger, and mauldin worshiped murphy, and when murphy did die in 1971, i believe, mauldin wrote a beautiful eulogy to him that appeared i believe in people magazine about the demons that possessed murphy and how he understood murphy so well because they came from the same background, the desert southwest, impoverished people who found their first home in the army and in more, and could never kind of escape that legacy. thank you. >> next question in the center. >> were willie and joe based on
real characters or were they figments of his imagination? >> willie, the one with the big nose, he was originally joe, and joe was willie. they somehow switch right when they got into combat, but willie , he was originally a choctaw indian. the 45th infantry division, one of our most ethically ethnically diverse with a lot of native americans in it, so many of the people bill trained with were native americans, and bill worshiped them because they were such good soldiers. willie is based after that choctaw indian who survived the war, our crazy story about how he gets captured at anzio and is taken as p.o.w.
and kills his captor and escapes, wounded and left for dead, but revived. they would only reunite in 1980, many years after the war, but the hulking willie was originally an native american, and that was clear and how he spoke. joy, i tell you, i look at him more and more, i think he is bill in a lot of ways, and anglo soldier, and i work with veterans now young and old and i understand this relationship so much better than when i was researching the book, but bill always said that these two guys, they did not like each other. they did not agree on politics are they did not have the same taste in anything. they did not have much in common. what they had in common was that experience, and that experience made them brothers closer than brothers. they could not escape each other. they were entirely dependent on each other. and they operated as one. and he said that is the remarkable thing about these relationships
that you form an combat. you don't have to like them, but they become very close to you, your second family, and for bill, it was his first family. >> all right, in the center towards the back. >> did bill ever get remarried, have another family, stay in touch with his son from his first marriage? >> yes, yeah, i'm laughing because i'm working through his marriages here. [laughter] >> yeah, bill had two other wives, eight kids, three of his -- his last wife was 27 years his junior. i think he had, his kids, the ages range, i'm trying to think of their ages today. their ages range from probably
about 70 years old today to 30 years old today. sam is the youngest, and sam in many ways is the picture of oil. yeah, his second wife, he had three children with his second wife. he remained close to bruise. bruce retired from the army as a kernel and served in vietnam, and bill went to visit him there in 1965, and while he was visiting, this happen to bill all his life. he was -- when it was shelled 1965, one of the beginnings of the vietnam war, and bill was racing around, patching men of, and cheering when the jets took off for revenge. so, yeah, it bill had a complicated family of three different generations, three different families. one thing i find so interesting about the family is that they have such reverence for bill's work, and
they are absolutely open about bill's personal flaws, and i thought it would share this story because i don't know if i biographer has ever had this experience. when i hit upon the idea of writing a biography about bill mauldin, i knew i would have to in touch with the family. i've had biographies fail before because families are happy to have you write about their fathers, but they don't what you does say any of the bad stuff, and you can't write a biography that way. i reached out to david maulden, and he said something like make sure when you write this be agar free talk about what a son of a pitch -- right to this biography talk about what a son of a bitch he
was. hewe all agreed that bill was a magnificent artist, but because he did cartoons, he was not considered a serious artist. great question. thank you. >> staying in the back of the room to the right. >> i had heard that he brought back willie and joe together for the death of general marshall, is that true? >> yes, he would bring willie and joe back, willie and joe never really leave. he drops willie and joe in 1946 when he turns to politics, but he absolutely brought them back for events like general marshall. for the vietnam war, he had willie and joe in vietnam a couple of times. for korea, he had a whole book about willie and joe in korea. one of his final cartoons was willie in 1991 to comment on the first
gulf war, so they never leave him. they were like a shadow he could never escape. i think he thought of them as real people, and he said, i did not create them. they created me. they gave him a life that he never would have had as a poor kid from the desert southwest, and he was always grateful to them, and he always of course knew that they stood for the suffering and the deaths of all the men in his company. he got to escape that fate. he was plucked from the ranks and put on stars & stripes, and he said, i connived to do that from day one and i got my wi sh. i escaped combat. and he was always very aware of that, and always guilty about that. >> question to your right.
>> two things, did he ever do any cartooning that embody combat? secondly, did he have a body of work that was not published? >> both good questions. yes, he does have a body of work that was not published. he did a lot of sketches and preliminary drawings that were never published. over the course of his career, but the library of congress has a lot of wonderful sketches. he has a sketchbook that he kept in vietnam and never published. did he ever draw combat? that is an interesting question. i would say, yeah, his cartoons upfront, upfront by mauldin were combat