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ABOUT SYD HOFF

AutobiographyBiographyArticles Written about Syd
Syd's Life TimelineSyd Hoff aka A. RedfieldVideos
Mystery Short Stories by HoffFamily PhotosObituaries

Syd's Life Timeline:


1912 - Born - Bronx, NY

1917- First Red Scare

1918 - End of WWI

1927 - Enters National Academy Design, New York City

1929- Stock Market crash. Father loses 40% of his investments

1930 - Sells a small “spot” to the New Yorker magazine (drawing used as filler)

1930 - Joins the local Cartoonists Guild in New York City

1931- First cartoon with caption appears in the New Yorker (August)

1931- Scottsboro Trial- Syd was passionate about this case

1932 – Syd’s ‘Maurice Chevalier’ cartoon in the New Yorker (considered a huge success which solidified his working relationship and led publisher, Harold Ross, declare Syd his Bronx correspondent)

1932 (mid 30s) - Hoff cartoons begin to appear in other national magazines: Liberty, Colliers, College Humor, Judge and the newspaper New York American

1930s (mid ‘30s) – Syd attends first RED meeting - Joins the John Reed Club

1933- Begins work with left-wing publication New Masses (takes on alias A. Redfield after a few Hoff cartoons appear)

1933- UAG (Unemployed Artist’s Guild) formed to deal with struggling artists needing government support as a result of The Great Depression. It later became known as The Artists Union (1934) and fought for WPA (Works Project Administration). Meetings held at the John Reed Club which attracted more artists

1934- Syd meets Dutch (Dora Berman) in the Catskill Mountains. It was love at first sight

1935- Attends Camp Unity – affiliated with (CPUSA). Yale Stuart was a lifeguard and became a friend of Syd's. Abe Meeropol invites Syd to "join the movement"

1935 - Joins the staff of the Daily Worker and begins work as left-wing cartoonist along with ongoing mainstream ‘Hoff’ cartoons.

1935- The Ruling Clawss (Syd’s first cartoon book) published by Daily Worker. It consists of over 100 cartoons done under Syd’s alias, A. Redfield.

1935- Redfield cartoons also appear in Young Communist Review and other left-wing publications including: Champion of Youth and March of Labor. Syd was also the art director for New Pioneer (a magazine for working class children)

1935-1937: First comic strip Toby the Ambitious appears in Young America magazine (a forerunner of the Weekly Reader created by Stuart Scheftel). The comic appeared on a page under Bemelmann’s Silly Willy comic strip.

1935- Visits coal miners in Pittsburgh (gets a first hand view of the oppressive working conditions)

1935- 10 year anniversary of the New Yorker. Syd wanted to have more of his cartoons published and tried to speak with Harold Ross {publisher) at celebratory event. (College Humor had cut down the number of his cartoons and Judge went out of business.)

1936-39: Spanish Civil War.

1936-39: Participated in rallies and fundraisers to support American troops (The Lincoln Brigade). Event held at Columbus Circle, the boat docks and at Carnegie Hall. He also participated in a protest rally to support The Cartoonists Guild push to have College Humor increase pay for published cartoons. Syd ended up in a holding cell at local police station with announcement on the radio news. (New York Times, June 19, 1936)

1937 - Syd and Dutch get married

1939 - Syd and Dutch drive across country and spend 2 months in Hollywood, CA trying to

find work as a gag writer the same time HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee) begins their witch hunt.

1938/39- William Randolph Hearst asks Syd to create a comic strip. After several attempts, Tuffy was born in 1939 (about a little girl who did funny things). Tuffy was declared essential for national morale by Hearst during WWII, which keeps Syd out of active military duty. He then joins the Office of War Information and draws propaganda cartoons, which were dropped behind enemy lines. Dutch volunteers for Red Cross. Tuffy appears on the “March of Events” page, alongside columns by Hermann Goring (Hitler’s designated successor). Hearst asked Syd if he was okay with the placement of the cartoon (the pull of two creative worlds).

1939 - 1949 - Tuffy was syndicated in over 800 Hearst owned publications. Syd worked directly with JV Connally, former President of Kings Syndicate

1938 - Syd paints several murals for Barney Josephson’s jazz club, Café Society (Greenwich Village, NYC). Known as the Right place for the wrong people, it featured jazz, social satire and integration between blacks and whites for the first time in the country (this is where Billie Holiday sang her famous song Strange Fruit for the first time). Syd was now exposed to a new world of entertainment and associations.

1938 - New Masses sponsors Carnegie Hall Event which was linked to CPUSA

1938 - Syd legally changes his last name from Hoffberg to Hoff

1939 - Syd publishes first children's book, Mr. His ... a Children’s Story for Anybody, under the name A. Redfield. Published by Daily Worker, it appeared in two forms - as a small pamphlet and also in New Masses

1940 - Redfield cartoons continue to appear in other left-wing publications (Mike Quinn Dangerous Thoughts, etc)

1940 – Writes his first mainstream children's book Muscles and Brains (by Hoff)

1940 - Redfield cartoons begin to taper off

1941- Carnegie Hall concert to benefit Musicians Union

1941- Daughter Susan born (firstborn)

1942- Syd was part of the Cartoons Against the Axis Exhibit (which toured the country supporting the purchase of war bonds)

1943- Daughter Bonnie born

1940/50s – Published adult cartoon books/ How to cartoon, etc (Hoff)

1947- Television show Tales of Hoff – the first show to have a sponsor (Bristol-Myers: Ipana Toothpaste). It was short lived (18 weeks). Format: Syd did drawings on an easel and had kids sitting by his side. Not many people had televisions at home, and other shows began to emerge.

1950s /1960s - Advertising commissions begin to soar for iconic companies such as: Standard Oil, Chevrolet, Maxwell House Coffee, Arrow Shirts, Eveready Batteries, Rambler, Jell-o, Ralston cereal, Fitch shampoo, SOS pads, Super Pyro anti freeze, Charles Antell Shampoo, Ivory Soap and more

1951- Syd participated in a march (movement) to ban the “A” bomb. He was next to Corliss Lamont (advocate of civil liberties) so the FBI assumed he was his friend after seeing their photo in the New York Times.

1952- Syd gives a voluntary statement given to FBI - related to his Redfield cartoons and alleged association with CPUSA. (He was never formally charged)

1958- Danny and the Dinosaur published. To date, over 10 million copies worldwide and is currently in print along with 15 other Hoff children’s books. This book launched Syd's career as a prolific children's author.

1958 - Laugh it Off cartoon series launched (single frame gag cartoon). It ran for 20 years and was syndicated in magazines worldwide).

1964 - Last New Yorker cartoon appears (Harold Ross gone as editor)

1967 - Irving and Me published. A coming of age story with no cartoons, it was declared one of the top 10 children's books of the year by the New York Times

1970s- Syd begins short story mystery writing for Ellery Queen, Alfred Hitchcock, Rogue, Charlie Chan, Mike Shayne, and more.

1970-1990s: Syd continues to write children’s books, present chalk talks at schools, libraries and on cruise ships.

2004: Syd passes away at the age of 91. Regarded as one of the great humorists of the 20th century, his legacy includes 571 cartoons for the New Yorker, plus countless cartoons for Esquire, Colliers, Saturday Evening Post, and others. He wrote/illustrated nearly 125 books: over 70 children’s stories/ 13 How to Draw, etc / 15 Adult books & cartoon books/ 24 children’s books written by others – illustrated by Hoff / Countless Advertising Commissions/ Mystery Short Stories

 

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