Arthur "Bugs" Baer

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Arthur "Bugs" Baer (January 9, 1886 – May 17, 1969) was an American journalist and humorist. Baer was prominent in the New York City journalism and entertainment scene for many years and worked as a sports journalist and cartoonist. Called by The New York Times "one of the country's best known humorists", he wrote the humor column "One Word Led to Another" for the King Features Syndicate (the Hearst papers).[1]

Known as a source of quips that were often repeated by others (and the reported inventor of the nickname "Sultan of Swat" for Babe Ruth), Milton Berle is known as one of the people to have "tapped his wit... admitting that when he needed fresh humor, he would invite Mr. Baer to spend an hour or two with him at Toots Shor's."[1]


Baer was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the seventh of 14 children born to immigrants from Alsace-Lorraine. He left school at age 14 to work, attended art school, and designed lace on a wage of $12 a week.[1] One article from 1918 lists Baer as a notable graduate of the Field Artillery Officers' Training School in Camp Zachary Taylor;[2] Baer also contributed to the 1919 book F.A.C.O.T.S. - The Story of the Field Artillery Central Officers Training School.[3]

A 1921 article shows that Baer played on the New York Newspaper Golf Club team in an intercity New York-Boston journalists' golf match.[4]

Baer began his career in journalism as an artist with the Philadelphia Public Ledger and later worked for other papers before working as a sports journalist for the Washington Times, where he drew cartoons of a "baseball-bodied insect" named "Bugs."[1] Baer was thereafter known as "Bugs," insisting upon being referred to by this nickname.[1] One of his famous jokes involved Ping Bodie, a Yankees player who was caught attempting to steal second base. Baer quipped that "his head was full of larceny, but his feet were honest."[1] –a joke that amused William Randolph Hearst so much that he hired Baer to work for the New York American.[1]

Baer was active on Broadway in the 1920s. Among his many credits, he co-authored the third "George White's Scandals" revue in 1923, with George White as writer and George Gershwin as composer. For the new motion picture industry, he wrote the only movie for Babe Ruth in which Ruth played himself. As a ghost writer, he wrote the continuity for the Mutt and Jeff comic strip for two years in the 1920s. He also served as emcee for various appearances and shows by the syndicated newspaper cartoonists.

Baer married twice. His first wife, Marjorie Cassidy, died suddenly after the birth of his daughter. His second wife, Louise Andrews, mother of his son, was a Ziegfeld Follies girl who become one of the first fund-raisers for heart disease research. She was president-elect of the American Heart Association on her death from heart illness in 1950.

Baer died at age 83 at New York Hospital on May 17, 1969. He was survived by a son, Arthur Bugs Baer, Jr., and a daughter, Atra Cavataro, as well as seven grandchildren.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Bugs Baer Dead. Ex-columnist, 83. Humorist Had Appeared in the Hearst Newspapers". The New York Times. May 18, 1969. Retrieved 2012-11-18. Arthur (Bugs) Baer, whose daily column, 'One Word Led to Another,' made him one of the country's best known humorists, died yesterday in New York Hospital. ... Bugs Jr. graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Business School and became an investment manager, venture capitalist and ocean yacht racer, with two children and five grandchildren. Atra Cavataro was a reporter for the Journal American newspaper for several years, based in New York City. She went on to be a speech writer for New York Mayor Edward I. Koch for his 12-year term as Mayor. Atra is 80 years old and living in Rye, NY and has 5 children and 11 grandchildren. She was married to former public relations man Nicholas T. Cavataro, who was also a reporter for the Associated Press for 17 years. 
  2. ^ "At World's Largest Artillery School; How They Get Students Ready for the Front at Big Training Institution Near Louisville, Kentucky." Sept. 29, 1918. The New York Times
  3. ^ F.A.C.O.T.S. - The Story of the Field Artillery Central Officers Training School. Knickerbocker Press: 1919.[1]
  4. ^ "Picks Newspaper Golfers.; Captain Poinsette Announces LineUp for New York-Boston Tilt." The New York Times. 10 June 1921.

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