Bell Syndicate

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Bell Syndicate
Bell Syndicate-North American Newspaper Alliance
Bell-McClure Syndicate
Industry Print syndication
Fate absorbed into United Media
Predecessor Wheeler Syndicate
Founded 1916; 102 years ago (1916)
Founder John Neville Wheeler
Defunct 1972; 46 years ago (1972)
Headquarters 229 West 43rd Street, New York City, New York, U.S.
Area served
United States
Key people
  • John Neville Wheeler (1916–1966)
  • Kathleen Caesar (editor)
  • Henry M. Snevily (president)
  • Joseph P. Agnelli (executive VP & GM)
  • Muriel Agnelli a.k.a. Muriel Nissen (columnist)
  • Elizabeth Meriwether Gilmer (columnist)
  • Louis Ruppel (President & Editor, 1952–c. 1958)
Products columns, fiction, feature articles, and comic strips
Owners North American Newspaper Alliance (1930–1972)
United Features Syndicate (1972)
Subsidiaries Associated Newspapers
McClure Syndicate (1952–1972)

The Bell Syndicate, launched in 1916 by editor-publisher John Neville Wheeler, was an American syndicate that distributed columns, fiction, feature articles and comic strips to newspapers for decades. It was located in New York City at 247 West 43rd Street and later at 229 West 43rd Street. It also reprinted comic strips in book form.[1]


In 1913, while working as a sportswriter for the New York Herald, Wheeler formed the Wheeler Syndicate to specialize in distribution of sports features to newspapers in the United States and Canada. That same year his Wheeler Syndicate contracted with pioneering comic strip artist Bud Fisher and cartoonist Fontaine Fox to begin distributing their work.[2]

Journalist Richard Harding Davis was sent to Belgium as war correspondent and reported on early battlefield actions, as the Wheeler Syndicate became a comprehensive news collection and distribution operation. In 1916, it was purchased by the McClure Syndicate, the oldest and largest news and feature syndicate in America.

Immediately upon the sale of the Wheeler Syndicate to the McClure Newspaper Syndicate, Wheeler founded the Bell Syndicate, which soon attracted Fisher, Fox and other cartoonists. Ring Lardner began writing a sports column for Bell in 1919. In 1924, Wheeler became executive editor of Liberty and served in that capacity while continuing to run Bell Syndicate. (Years later, Wheeler's company would in turn acquire the McClure Newspaper Syndicate.)

In 1930, he became general manager of North American Newspaper Alliance (NANA), established in 1922 by 50 major newspapers in the United States and Canada which absorbed Bell, both continuing to operate individually under joint ownership as the Bell Syndicate-North American Newspaper Alliance. The group acquired the McClure Newspaper Syndicate in September 1952, with Louis Ruppel installed as president and editor.[3] At that point the syndicate became known as the Bell-McClure Syndicate. In 1966, operations were sold to the publishing and media company Koster-Dana.[citation needed]

In 1972, United Features Syndicate acquired NANA / Bell-McClure and absorbed them into its syndication operations.[4]

Bell Syndicate / Bell-McClure Syndicate strips and panels[edit]

Key people, writers, and columnists[edit]

Kathleen Caesar was the Bell Syndicate's editor. Henry M. Snevily was the firm's president, with Joseph P. Agnelli as executive vice-president and general manager. His wife, Muriel Agnelli, wrote the "Dorothy Dix" advice column; it ran in 160 newspapers, and in 20 newspapers it appeared under the byline Muriel Nissen, her maiden name. Elizabeth Meriwether Gilmer wrote the Dorothy Dix advice column until her death in 1951, when Muriel Agnelli took over. Born in Manhattan, Muriel Agnelli attended Hunter College and also studied journalism and psychology at Columbia University. After marrying in 1929, she began editing Bell's four-page children's tabloid, the "Sunshine Club", and she later wrote a column about stamps and stamp collecting.

The syndicate also distributed James J. Montague's column "More Truth than Poetry" as well as many other articles and light fiction pieces.

Film critic Mordaunt Hall was a Bell copy editor, and he also contributed articles. Drew Pearson's "Washington-Merry-Go-Round" column was carried in 600 newspapers. The liberal Washington columnist Doris Fleeson wrote a daily Bell political column from 1945 to 1954.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ben Webster's Career or Bound to Win, 1927, in a four-panel horizontal format.
  2. ^ Drawgerpedia: Bud Fisher
  3. ^ Knoll, Erwin. "McClure Syndicate Sold to Bell-NANA". Editor & Publisher (September 6, 1952).
  4. ^ Astor, Dave. "Goldberg To Retire From United Media," Editor & Publisher (December 17, 2001): "The executive joined United in 1972 when it bought Bell McClure Syndicate and North American Newspaper Alliance, where Goldberg was president."
  5. ^ "Original Beauregard! strip by Jack Davis, 1963," The Bristol Board (Dec. 30, 2016).
  6. ^ Maurice Horn, Women in the Comics, New York : Chelsea House, 1977. (p. 48, 70)
  7. ^ Ben Webster's Career at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived 2015-03-20 at WebCite from the original on March 20, 2015.
  8. ^ Holtz, Allan. "Ink-Slinger Profiles: C.A. Voight," Stripper's Guide (October 22, 2013).
  9. ^ Ron Goulart, The Encyclopedia of American Comics. New York : Facts on File,1990 (p.124)
  10. ^ a b c d Ron Goulart,The Funnies: 100 Years of American Comic Strips (Holbrook, Mass.: Adams Publishing, 1995). ISBN 094473524X, pp. 87-88, 104, 106, 124, 200.
  11. ^ "Stripper's Guide Obscurity of the Day:Gentlemen Prefer Blondes". Retrieved Aug 29, 2015. 
  12. ^ Stephen D. Becker, Comic Art in America. New York : Simon and Schuster, 1959 (p. 235).
  13. ^ "Miss Cairo Jones, by Bob Oksner", in Ron Goulart's Comics History Magazine No. 2, Winter 1996 (pp.16-17)
  14. ^ Robert C. Harvey,The Art of the Funnies. Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, 1994. (p. 69, 103). ISBN 0585214212
  15. ^ Phil Hardy at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on April 16, 2012.
  16. ^ Hubert H. Crawford, Crawford's Encyclopedia of Comic Books. Jonathan David Publishers, 1978 (p. 408).
  17. ^ Maurice Horn, The World Encyclopedia of Comics. New York : Chelsea House, 1976. (p. 638)
  18. ^ Bell Syndicate, Sunday color supplement, The San Bernardino Daily Sun, San Bernardino, California, Sunday 17 June 1945, Volume 51, page 22.
  19. ^ Riley, Sam G. Biographical Dictionary of American Newspaper Columnists, Greenwood, 1995.

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Wheeler, John Neville. I've Got News for You, 1961.