Hazel is a single-panel cartoon series by Ted Key about a live-in maid who works for a middle-class family. The character of Hazel came to Key in 1943 during a dream that he drew the next morning and sent to The Saturday Evening Post, where it quickly became a popular series.
Characters and story
- Hazel, the live-in maid to the Baxter family, also serving as nanny to the children.
- George Baxter, ostensible head of the household.
- Dorothy Baxter, George's wife.
- Harold Baxter, the son of George and Dorothy.
- Katie Baxter, the Baxters' adopted younger child.
- Smiley the dog.
- Mostly the cat.
- Two Ton, another cat, named for its size.
In 2008, the cartoonist's son, Peter Key, talked about the origin of the character, "Like a lot of creative people, he kept a notepad near his bedside. He had a dream about a maid who took a message, but she screwed it up completely. When he looked at the idea the next day, he thought it was good and sold it to The Post."
Shortly afterward, the wry and bossy household maid was given the name Hazel, along with employment at the Baxter household. Peter Key recalled, "He picked the name Hazel out of the air, but there was an editor at The Post who had a sister named Hazel. She thought her brother came up with the name, and she didn’t speak to him for two years."
The cartoon ran until the weekly magazine ceased publication in 1969. Hazel was then picked up for newspaper syndication by King Features Syndicate. Key, who continued to draw Hazel until his retirement in 1993. Ted Key died in May 2008.
Key's cartoons were reprinted in a series of books, including Here's Hazel and All Hazel. After the first in the series, Hazel, was published by E. P. Dutton in 1946, it sold 500,000 copies. Kirkus Reviews commented:
- Cartoons from the next to last page of The Saturday Evening Post, in which Hazel, a slightly dimmed jewel of a domestic, puts her employers and their friends through their paces with no hesitation about taking the center of the stage. Joining in their games, their parties, their conversations, their arguments, court of appeal for household decisions, intimidating the unwary, demanding-and grabbing-her rights, Hazel is certainly the least inhibited person on paper today. You may start off disliking her and her omnipresence in the household, but sooner or later one of her cracks will get you—and you'll be sold.
In 2008, King Features was reprinting Hazel panels in more than 50 newspapers.
Key adapted his cartoon series into the television show Hazel, starring Shirley Booth, who won two Emmy Awards portraying the titular maid. It ran from 1961 to 1965 on NBC; for its final 1965-66 season, the show switched to CBS.
Key won the National Cartoonists Society's Newspaper Panel Cartoon Award for 1977 for Hazel.
- Weber, Bruce. "Ted Key, 95, Creator of 'Hazel' Cartoon, Is Dead", The New York Times, May 8, 2008
- "About Hazel". DailyINK. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
- "Hazel comic published on 2013-08-06". DailyINK. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
- Evanier, Mark (May 5, 2008). "Ted Key, R.I.P.". P.O.V. Online: News from Me (column). Retrieved 2008-05-05.
- Lentz, Bob (May 5, 2008). "Cartoonist Ted Key, creator of 'Hazel' comic, dies at 95". Associated Press via Yahoo! News.
- Kirkus Reviews, 1946
- King Features Syndicate. "Hazel by Ted Key: About the Cartoonist". Retrieved 2008-05-05.
- Strickler, Dave. Syndicated Comic Strips and Artists, 1924-1995: The Complete Index. Cambria, California: Comics Access, 1995. ISBN 0-9700077-0-1