On Strips: A Tale of Three Andy Gump Statues

By | Friday, March 27, 2015 1 comment
Andy Gump Statue circa 2007
In 1917, Sidney Smith created The Gumps comic strip for the Chicago Tribune. It's almost immediate and wide-spread popularity directly led the Tribune to join with the New York News to create the first syndicate. The Gumps then became the first syndicated comic strip in 1919. Animated shorts began appearing in 1920 and two-reel live-action pictures debuted in 1922. With associated merchandising, Smith (and the Tribune!) became quite wealthy.

Andy Gump Statue circa 1965
The Tribune was so pleased with Smith and The Gumps, they commissioned a statue of Andy Gump and had it placed on Smith's estate in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. When Smith died in a car accident in 1935 at age 58, the statue was moved to a city park. It wasn't until 1943 that it was officially acquired by the city, however.

Andy Gump Statue circa 1969
Over the years, the statue bore the brunt of some unfortunate events. In 1952, the plaque on the front of the statue was stolen; however, it was eventually recovered and replaced. During a "druken riot" in 1967, the statue was destroyed entirely. The city then replaced it, despite the strip ending in 1959. The replacement statue was then stolen in 1989 and was replaced yet again. Though comparing these 1965 (pre-riot) and 1969 (post-riot replacement) photos with each other as well as contemporary ones, you can note several differences in the designs (notably the hat and the length/style of the limbs) presumably reflecting how the character was most widely recognized at the time. I haven't been able to find any information about the artists who worked on the various statues.

The statues have all been moved several times, but the current one now resides in Flatiron Park facing Geneva Bay just along Wrigley Drive.
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Anonymous said...

My great great grandfather Michele Bernardini made the original sculpture which was broken in the riot. It is so neat to see it. Thanks for having these pictures!