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 Foster Morse Follett  (1878 - 1938)

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Lived/Active: New York/Ohio      Known for: cartoon illustration, animation

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Ad Code: 4
Foster Morse Follett
from Auction House Records.
A smoky cigar disrupts traffic flow
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following biography is from Douglas Bell Follett who wrote: "My grandfather was Foster Morse Follett who was a cartoonist working in New York during the early 1900. I see a listing for an F.O. Follett. I even think I see one of My grandfather's cartoons listed as being done by F. O. Follett. The image is too small to be certain but it looks to be his style. I have bits and pieces of information about his life. As far as I know he is known strictly for his cartoon work. I have dozens of crumbling old cartoon strips of his as well as what his 101 year old sister said was his very first cartoon. It is an original sketch done when he was a child.

Foster Morse Follett
Cartoonist 1878-1938

Foster Morse Follett was born on April 11, 1878 in Sandusky, Ohio. His father, Foster Valentine Follett died when he was 10 years old. His younger sister and brother had succumbed previously to diphtheria leaving him an only child to be raised by his widowed mother, Portia Follett. His formal education never went beyond high school. At 19 he went to Cleveland as a stenographer and studied art at night. Ten years later he married Nettie Bell who was four years his senior.

In 1898, shortly after the wedding, Foster and Nettie went to Europe for a year's study in Paris and Munich. On their return they settled in New York City where his career began, and they had their first child, Helen. His work was published regularly in the early 1900s New York papers. His work appeared in the old New York Herald, The World, Life, Judge and The Saturday Evening Post. He did political cartoons and the comic strips The Kid and Private Conscience and was an active part of the newspaper world at that time. Don Marquis, the columnist was a close and congenial friend. As a member of the Salmagundi Club, he had associates who were well known in the artistic life of New York.

As an early animator Foster was offered a job with the new Disney Studios in California but was unwilling to uproot his young family and move West. One of his proteges became head animator for all of Disney's first films.

Foster M. Follett was a heavy smoker and developed a cough that resulted in an enlarged heart. In 1938 his children urged him and his wife to go to Florida for the winter. Neither of them were good drivers. Netti was at the wheel in Virginia when the car went off the road and hit a tree. A black woman walking along the road found them and went to a nearby farmhouse to get help. At that time there were no ambulances in rural areas. Netti had two broken legs and Foster had no outward signs of injury. His death came as a surprise a week later in a Richmond hospital. He died of shock and complications. Netti died seven years later, a frail and guilt-driven widow.

F.M. Follett lived before recognition of the political cartoon and comic strips as art. There is almost no original work of his left except crumbling old newspapers and magazines. An early-animated film exists in the archives of Dartmouth College, given by his daughter, Helen Follett Brooks of Madison Connecticut. She survives him at age 100, as do two grandsons, Stephen Follett of Proctor, Vermont, and Douglas Follett of Olympia Washington. Foster and Nettie had three children, Helen, Foster Valentine, and Merit.

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