Bell Syndicate

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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 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.

In 1930, he became general manager of North American Newspaper Alliance, established in 1922 by 50 major newspapers in the United States and Canada which absorbed Bell, both continuing to operate individually under joint ownership. NANA continued to acquire other syndicates, including the McClure Syndicate.

Comic strips[edit]

Comic strips distributed by the Bell Syndicate:

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.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ben Webster's Career or Bound to Win, 1927, in a four-panel horizontal format.
  2. ^ Drawgerpedia: Bud Fisher
  3. ^ Maurice Horn, Women in the Comics, New York : Chelsea House, 1977. (p. 48, 70)
  4. ^ Ben Webster's Career at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. [ Archived Archived 2015-03-20 at WebCite from the original on March 20, 2015.
  5. ^ Ron Goulart, The Encyclopedia of American Comics. New York : Facts on File,1990 (p.124)
  6. ^ 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)
  7. ^ "Stripper's Guide Obscurity of the Day:Gentlemen Prefer Blondes". Retrieved Aug 29, 2015. 
  8. ^ Stephen D. Becker, Comic Art in America. New York : Simon and Schuster, 1959 (p. 235).
  9. ^ "Miss Cairo Jones, by Bob Oksner", in Ron Goulart's Comics History Magazine No. 2, Winter 1996 (pp.16-17)
  10. ^ Robert C. Harvey,The Art of the Funnies. Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, 1994. (p. 69, 103). ISBN 0585214212
  11. ^ Phil Hardy at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on April 16, 2012.
  12. ^ Hubert H. Crawford, Crawford's Encyclopedia of Comic Books. Jonathan David Publishers, 1978 (p. 408).
  13. ^ Maurice Horn, The World Encyclopedia of Comics. New York : Chelsea House, 1976. (p. 638)
  14. ^ 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.