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 Ted (Theodore Keyser) Key  (1912 - 2008)

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Lived/Active: New York/Pennsylvania/California      Known for: syndicated cartoons

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Ad Code: 4
Ted Key
from Auction House Records.
Hazel confronts cat on dining room table
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Ted Key was a prolific drawing master of cartoons and an "inventor of anthropomorphic animal characters" including the pet duck that laid golden eggs and was 'star' of the Walt Disney movie, The Million Dollar Duck (1971); a field-goal kicking mule in the Disney movie, Gus (1976) and a dog, who was a traveling professor who starred in a cartoon show, Rocky and Friends (1959).

Likely the cartoon character for which he remains best known is Hazel, "a name synonymous with live-in housekeepers as American suburbs flowered after World War II."  Key created the series in 1943 based on a dream his father had about a bossy maid.  The next morning Key sent the drawing he made from the conversation with his father to editors of the Saturday Evening Post, and within weeks, Hazel, a name Key "picked out of the air", became a regular part of the magazine.  The series lasted until 1969 when the publication folded.  In 1961, the Hazel cartoon series became a television show with Shirley Booth playing Hazel, who managed the lives of the Baxter family.

Ted Key was born Theodore Keyser in Fresno, California.  His father was Simon Keyser, an immigrant from Latvia who changed his name to Keyser from Katseff.  His son, Ted, did not get legally renamed until the 1950s.  Ted graduated from the University of California in Berkeley and then went to New York City, where he began his career as a freelance cartoonist.  He served in public relations in the Army during World War II and as part of that job wrote a promotional play to recruit more women.

Bruce Weber, "Ted Key, 95, Creator of 'Hazel' Cartoon", The New York Times, May 6, 2008, Obituaries, C13

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Note from Arnold Wagner:

Ted Key graduated in 1933 from the University of California at Berkeley California, and sold his cartoons to magazines while still in college. He sold to all the major publications in the thirties, and was associate editor at Judge Magazine.

He created the cartoon "Hazel" in 1943, which ran in the "Saturday Evening Post" until the magazine folded in 1969. He then turned it into a syndicated panel for newspapers. He served as a master Sergeant in the Army Signal Corps during WWII.

He has sold other material to magazines, written radio plays, screenplays for Disney, Children's books, and illustrated other peoples books. His son Peter is a gag writer.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Fresno, CA on Aug. 25, 1912.  "Ted" Key studied art while at UC Berkeley, graduating in 1933.  By 1940 he was a resident of New York City and a contributor to Saturday Evening Post, Collier's, New Yorker and other national magazines.  He also created "Hazel" which was syndicated by King Features.  His last years were spent in Pennsylvania as a resident of Norristown and Wayne.  He died in the latter on May 3, 2008.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Who's Who in American Art 1940-70; Social Security Death Index
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

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