Garry Trudeau

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Garry Trudeau
Trudeau giving a lecture at Stanford in 2014
Garretson Beekman Trudeau

(1948-07-21) July 21, 1948 (age 75)
New York City, U.S.
Years active1970–present
Known forDoonesbury
(m. 1980)
RelativesEdward Livingston Trudeau (great-grandfather)

Garretson Beekman Trudeau (born July 21, 1948) is an American cartoonist, best known for creating the Doonesbury comic strip. Trudeau is also the creator and executive producer of the Amazon Studios political comedy series Alpha House.

Trudeau won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning in 1975, making him the first comic strip artist to win a Pulitzer. He is one of only two comic strip artists to win the award, the other being Berkeley Breathed, whose work was influenced by Trudeau.[1]

Background and education[edit]

Trudeau was born in New York City, the son of Jean Douglas (née Moore, daughter of New York Assembly member Thomas Channing Moore) and Francis Berger Trudeau Jr.[2] He is the great-grandson of Edward Livingston Trudeau, who created Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium for the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis at Saranac Lake, New York. Edward was succeeded by his son Francis and grandson Francis Jr. The latter founded the Trudeau Institute at Saranac Lake, with which Garry Trudeau retains a connection.[3]

His ancestry is French Canadian, English, Dutch, German, and Swedish.[4]

Raised in Saranac Lake, Trudeau attended St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire. He enrolled in Yale University in 1966. As an art major, Trudeau initially focused on painting, but soon discovered a greater interest in the graphic arts. He spent much of his time cartooning and writing for Yale's humor magazine The Yale Record,[5] eventually serving as the magazine's editor-in-chief. At the same time, Trudeau began contributing to the Yale Daily News, which eventually led to the creation of Bull Tales, a comic strip parodying the exploits of Yale quarterback Brian Dowling. This strip was the progenitor of Doonesbury.[6]

While still an undergraduate at Yale, Trudeau published two collections of Bull Tales: Bull Tales (1969, published by the Yale Daily News)[7] and Michael J. (1970, published by The Yale Record).[8]

As a senior, Trudeau became a member of Scroll and Key. He did postgraduate work at the Yale School of Art, earning a master of fine arts degree in graphic design in 1973. It was there that Trudeau first met photographer David Levinthal, with whom he collaborated on Hitler Moves East, an influential "graphic chronicle" of the German invasion of the Soviet Union.[9]

Creative works[edit]

Soon after Bull Tales began running in the Yale student newspaper, the strip caught the attention of the newly formed Universal Press Syndicate. The syndicate's editor, James F. Andrews, recruited Trudeau, changed the strip's name to Doonesbury, and began distributing it following the cartoonist's graduation in 1970. Today Doonesbury is syndicated to 1,000 daily and Sunday newspapers worldwide and is accessible online in association with The Washington Post.

In 1975, Trudeau became the first comic strip artist to win a Pulitzer, traditionally awarded to editorial-page cartoonists. He was also a Pulitzer finalist in 1990, 2004, and 2005. Other awards include the National Cartoonist Society Newspaper Comic Strip Award in 1994, and the Reuben Award in 1995.[10] In 1993, Trudeau was made a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[11] Wiley Miller, fellow comic-strip artist responsible for Non Sequitur, called him "far and away the most influential editorial cartoonist in the last 25 years".[12] A regular graduation speaker, Trudeau has received 36 honorary degrees.

Trudeau in 1999

In addition to his creating his strip, Trudeau has worked in both theater and television. He was nominated for an Oscar in 1977 in the category of Animated Short Film for A Doonesbury Special, created for NBC in collaboration with John and Faith Hubley. The film won the Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize in 1978. In 1984, with composer Elizabeth Swados, he wrote the book and lyrics for the Broadway musical Doonesbury, for which he was nominated for two Drama Desk Awards. A cast album of the show, recorded for MCA, received a Grammy nomination. Trudeau again collaborated with Swados in 1984, this time on Rap Master Ronnie, a satirical revue about the Reagan Administration that opened off-Broadway at the Village Gate. A filmed version, featuring Jon Cryer, the Smothers Brothers, and Carol Kane, was broadcast on Cinemax in 1988.[13]

Also in 1988, Trudeau wrote and co-produced with director Robert Altman HBO's critically acclaimed Tanner '88, a satiric look at that year's presidential election campaign. The show won the gold medal for Best Television Series at the Cannes Television Festival, the British Academy Television Award for Best Foreign Program, and Best Imported Program from the British Broadcasting Press Guild. It earned an Emmy Award, as well as four ACE Award nominations. In 2004, Trudeau reunited with Altman to write and co-produce a sequel mini-series, Tanner on Tanner, for the Sundance Channel.[14]

In 1996, Newsweek and the Washington Post[15] speculated that Trudeau had written the novel Primary Colors, which was later revealed to have been written by Joe Klein. In February 2000, Trudeau, working with Dotcomix, launched Duke2000, a web-based presidential campaign featuring a real-time, 3-D, streaming-animation version of Duke. Nearly 30 campaign videos were created for the site, and Ambassador Duke was interviewed live by satellite on the Today Show, Larry King Live, The Charlie Rose Show, and dozens of local TV and radio news shows.[16]

In 2013, Trudeau created, wrote and co-produced Alpha House, a political sitcom starring John Goodman that revolves around four Republican U.S. Senators who live together in a townhouse on Capitol Hill.[17] Trudeau was inspired to write the show's pilot after reading a 2007 New York Times article about a real D.C. townhouse shared by New York Senator Chuck Schumer, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, and California Representative George Miller, all Democrats.[18] The pilot for Alpha House was produced by Amazon Studios and aired in early 2013. Due to positive response, Amazon picked up the show to develop into a full series, streaming eleven episodes for its first season.[19] On March 31, 2014, Amazon announced that Alpha House had been renewed.[20] Production began in July 2014, and the entire second season became available for streaming on October 24, 2014.[21]

While writing Alpha House, Trudeau put the daily Doonesbury into rerun mode. On March 3, 2014, the "Classic Doonesbury" series began, featuring approximately four weeks of daily strips from each year of the strip's run. He continues to produce new strips for Sundays. Although Alpha House has not been in production since the end of 2014, Trudeau has not returned to creating daily Doonesbury strips; new material remains a Sunday-only event.[22]

Trudeau has contributed to such publications as Harper's, Rolling Stone, The New Republic, The New Yorker, New York, and The Washington Post. From 1990 to 1994, he wrote and drew an occasional column for The New York Times op-ed page, and was a contributing essayist for Time magazine from 1996 to 2001.[23][24]

Beginning with the Gulf War in 1991, Trudeau has written about military issues extensively. In recognition for his work on injured soldiers, he has been presented with the Commander's Award for Public Service by the Department of the Army, the Commander's Award from Disabled American Veterans, the President's Award for Excellence in the Arts from Vietnam Veterans of America, the Distinguished Public Service Award from the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, the Mental Health Research Advocacy Award from the Yale School of Medicine, and a special citation from the Vet Centers.[25]

He received several unit commendations from the field during the Gulf War, and he traveled with the USO to visit troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. From 2005 to 2014, his website hosted The Sandbox, a milblog posting over 800 essays by deployed soldiers, returned vets, caregivers, and spouses. For most of the strip's run, Trudeau has eschewed merchandising, but starting in 1998 he teamed up with Starbucks to create Doonesbury products to raise funds for local literacy programs. The items were offered for sale in Starbucks stores for nearly two years and raised over $1 million. Also for charity, Trudeau licensed the strip to Ben & Jerry's, which created a bestselling sorbet flavor called Doonesberry.[26]

Trudeau's son Ross, a digital media producer, is also a crossword constructor who has been published in the New York Times. As part of the ongoing celebrity partnership series, father and son collaborated on a crossword puzzle that was published on May 15, 2018, in the Times.[27][28]

Trudeau, formerly a member of Writers Guild of America, East, left and maintained financial core status.[29]

Private life and public appearances[edit]

Trudeau married Jane Pauley on June 14, 1980; they have three children. He maintains a low personal profile. A rare early appearance on television was as a guest on To Tell the Truth in 1971, where only one of the three panelists guessed his identity. In 1990, Trudeau appeared on the cover of Newsweek for Inside Doonesbury's Brain, a story written by Jonathan Alter. This was the first interview Trudeau had given in 17 years.[30]

Trudeau cooperated extensively with Wired magazine for a 2000 profile, "The Revolution Will be Satirized". He later spoke with the writer of that article, Edward Cone, for a 2004 newspaper column in the Greensboro, North Carolina, News & Record, about the war wounds suffered by the Doonesbury character "B.D.", and in 2006 did a Q&A at Cone's personal blog about The Sandbox. Trudeau granted an interview to Rolling Stone in 2004 in which he discussed his time at Yale, which he attended two years behind George W. Bush. He granted another Rolling Stone interview in 2010. In 2006, The Washington Post printed an extensive profile of Trudeau by writer Gene Weingarten.[31] He appeared on the Charlie Rose television program,[6] and at signings for The Long Road Home: One Step at a Time, his Doonesbury book about B.D.'s struggle with injuries received during the second Gulf War.[32]

On August 1, 2016, Trudeau appeared on MSNBC on The Rachel Maddow Show. He was brought on to discuss his prediction about Donald Trump's plans to run for president almost three decades earlier. Maddow presented cartoon strips from as far back as 1987. Trudeau was on her show to promote his new book Yuge, which covers 30 years of Trump appearing in Doonesbury.[33] On November 7, 2016, Trudeau appeared on Fresh Air with Terry Gross[34] to discuss Yuge.[35] On the CBS News Sunday Morning broadcast of December 2, 2018, he was featured and was interviewed by his wife, Jane Pauley.

Appraisals and controversies[edit]

Eric Alterman, writing in The Nation, called Doonesbury "one of the great intellectual/artistic accomplishments of the past half-century, irrespective of category".[36]

Trudeau has also attracted criticism both for the comic strip and for his own opinions. In 1985, responding to changes after his 1983–1984 hiatus in Doonesbury, readers of The Saturday Review voted Trudeau one of the "Most Overrated People in American Arts and Letters", stating that after his hiatus, his comic strip was "predictable, mean-spirited, and not as funny as before." [37] Trudeau's acceptance speech on the occasion of receiving a Polk Award in 2015 for lifetime achievement stirred controversy.[38] In the speech, Trudeau criticized the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo—after a number of Charlie Hebdo writers, editors and cartoonists had been murdered execution-style in their own Paris offices by Muslim terrorists—for "punching downward... attacking a powerless, disenfranchised minority with crude, vulgar drawings closer to graffiti than cartoons", and thereby wandering "into the realm of hate speech" with cartoons of Muhammad.[39] Writing in The Atlantic, in which Trudeau had published his speech, political commentator David Frum criticized what he called Trudeau's "moral theory" that calls for identifying "the bearer of privilege", then holding "the privilege-bearer responsible".[40] Trudeau was labeled a "terror apologist" by the editors of The New York Post for his comments, with his choice of the venue in which to make them "adding to the insult".[41]


Non-Doonesbury publications[edit]

  • Hitler Moves East: A Graphic Chronicle, 1941–43 (with David Levinthal), Sheed, Andrews and McMeel, 1977. LCCN 76-52888. The cover shows two Wehrmacht motorcyclists. The book relates the story of Nazi Germany's Army Group Centre on the Eastern Front through archival photos and new photography of model soldiers (ISBN 0-8362-0708-4)
  • Finding Your Religion: When the Faith You Grew Up With Has Lost Its Meaning by Rev. Scotty McLennan, HarperSanFrancisco, 1999. Trudeau drew the cover cartoon and wrote the introduction.
  •'s The Sandbox: Dispatches from Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, introduction by G.B. Trudeau; edited by David Stanford, Duty Officer, Doonesbury Town Hall, Andrews McMeel Publishing (2007), ISBN 0-7407-6945-6, 978-0740769450. More than 100 blog posts by soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, caregivers, and family members.
  •'s The War in Quotes, introduction by G.B. Trudeau; edited by David Stanford, Duty Officer, Doonesbury Town Hall, Andrews McMeel Publishing (2008) ISBN 0-7407-7231-7, 978-0740772313


Most of Trudeau's original drawings for Doonesbury, along with letters, notebooks, and other archival materials, are in the collection of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.[42] Original drawings are also in the collections of the Library of Congress;[43] the Smithsonian Institute's Museum of American History;[44] the National Portrait Gallery;[45] the National Museum of Health and Medicine;[46] and the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum at Ohio State University.[47]

Honorary degrees[edit]

  • 1976 – Yale University [1]
  • 1977 – Grinnell College [2]
  • 1978 – Clarkson College
  • 1979 – Colgate University [3]
  • 1979 – Long Island University
  • 1979 – University of Pennsylvania [4]
  • 1979 – Lewis and Clark University [5]
  • 1980 – Lafayette College [6]
  • 1981 – University of Vermont
  • 1981 – Colby College [7]
  • 1981 – Wittenberg University
  • 1982 – Williams College
  • 1982 – Wheaton College [8]
  • 1982 – William and Mary College [9]
  • 1983 – DePauw University [10]
  • 1983 – Fairleigh Dickinson University
  • 1984 – Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College) [11]
  • 1986 – Wake Forest University [12]
  • 1986 – Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute [13]
  • 1987 – Smith College [14]
  • 1987 – SUNY Potsdam
  • 1988 – Duke University [15]
  • 1990 – Johns Hopkins University [16]
  • 1990 – Wheelock College (now merged with Boston University)
  • 1997 – Colorado College [17]
  • 1997 – CCS College of Art and Design
  • 1998 – Tufts University [18]
  • 2003 – Trinity College [19]
  • 2007 – Muhlenberg College [20]
  • 2007 – Goucher College [21]
  • 2007 – Brown University [22]
  • 2011 – University College Dublin [23]
  • 2012 – St. Lawrence University [24]
  • 2012 – Queens University at Kingston [25]
  • 2016 – Marist College [26]
  • 2017 – Macaulay College [27]


  1. ^ Solomon, Charles (November 26, 1987). "Strip That Split the Cartoonists". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 21, 2023. "I've never been a comics fan," Breathed explains. " 'Doonesbury' was the first strip I ever paid attention to and followed regularly--which may explain the obvious roots of 'Bloom County.' " During the seven years he's been drawing the strip, Breathed has gradually found his own voice, although Trudeau's influence can still be seen in the way he structures and paces many of his gags.
  2. ^ "Jean Douglas Amory obituary". Retrieved February 7, 2023.
  3. ^ "The Trudeau Institute Homepage". Retrieved November 14, 2016.
  4. ^ "Garry Trudeau ancestry". Family Tree Maker's Genealogy Site: My Genealogy Home Page. Retrieved December 13, 2014.
  5. ^ Trudeau, Garry (November 1968). Cover Illustration. The Yale Record. New Haven, CT.
  6. ^ a b Charlie Rose – Garry Trudeau on YouTube, Charlie Rose October 11, 2004, uploaded on August 27, 2007, on YouTube
  7. ^ Trudeau, Garry (February 1969). Bull Tales. New Haven: Yale News.
  8. ^ Trudeau, Garry (February 1970). Michael J. New Haven: Yale Record.
  9. ^ "Untitled". The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved December 14, 2016.
  10. ^ Jarvis, Zeke (2015). Make 'em Laugh! American Humorists of the 20th and 21st Centuries. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood / ABC-CLIO, LLC. p. 69. ISBN 978-1-4408-2994-9. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  11. ^ Browne, Ray B. & Pat (2001). The Guide to United States Popular Culture. Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press. p. 247. ISBN 0-87972-821-3. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  12. ^ Rubien, David (November 2, 1999). "Garry Trudeau". Salon. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  13. ^ "Television Reviews : Cinemax's Grades Slump With 'Rap Master Ronnie'". Los Angeles Times. February 12, 1988. Retrieved July 11, 2021.
  14. ^ "Shrewd 'Tanner' sequel bows on Sundance". September 30, 2004. Retrieved July 11, 2021.
  15. ^ Streitfeld, David. "'Anonymous' Undone By His Own Hand?". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  16. ^ Wired Staff. "The Revolution Will Be Satirized". Wired. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  17. ^ Goodman, Tim (November 14, 2013). "Alpha House: TV Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 24, 2014.
  18. ^ Camia, Catalina (November 20, 2013). "Durbin: No sex or drugs in real 'Alpha House'". USA Today. Retrieved August 4, 2014.
  19. ^ "Amazon kills 'Zombieland' TV project, backs 'Alpha House'", Reuters, May 17, 2013.
  20. ^ "Alpha House Season 2 Production Kicks Off This Summer". March 31, 2014. Retrieved November 14, 2016.
  21. ^ Spangler, Todd (October 27, 2014). "'Alpha House' Creator Garry Trudeau: Amazon Wants to Rival HBO Originals". Variety. Retrieved October 26, 2017.
  22. ^ Rosenberg, Alan. "'Doonesbury' Becoming 'Doonesbury Classics'". Providence Journal. Retrieved October 26, 2017.
  23. ^ Trudeau, Garry (January 16, 1991). "Opinion | Mars So Far". The New York Times.
  24. ^ "DOONESBURY' CREATOR JOINS TIME AS A CONTRIBUTOR". Greensboro News and Record. April 8, 1996.
  25. ^ "Doonesbury Cast: Garry Trudeau". The Washington Post.
  26. ^ Wallace, Holly (October 20, 2006). "Pulitzer Prize-Winning Cartoonist Garry Trudeau Discusses Politics and His Beloved Comic Strip, "Doonesbury," at UCLA Live Oct. 25". UCLA Newsroom.
  27. ^ "Tuesday, May 15, 2018 crossword by Garry Trudeau and Ross Trudeau".
  28. ^ Amlen, Deb (May 15, 2018). "Played at Work". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 2, 2022.
  29. ^ "WGAE Financial Core List".
  30. ^ Felsenthal, Carol (November 21, 2013). "Jonathan Alter on the Making of Alpha House". Chicago Magazine. Retrieved August 4, 2014.
  31. ^ Doonesbury's War, The Washington Post, October 22, 2006
  32. ^ "Doonesbury" & Private Lupo on YouTube, Pentagon Channel, uploaded September 27, 2006.
  33. ^ "30 Years of "Doonesbury" on Donald Trump: Cartoonist Garry Trudeau on the GOP's "Natural Born Toon"". Democracy Now!. August 5, 2016. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  34. ^ Author Interviews. "Fresh Air". Retrieved November 14, 2016. {{cite web}}: |author= has generic name (help)
  35. ^ Author Interviews. "Fresh Air". Retrieved November 14, 2016. {{cite web}}: |author= has generic name (help)
  36. ^ Alterman, Eric (November 2, 2010). "The Altercation Gift-Giving Guide, Part I". The Nation. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  37. ^ Davis, Brian (April 7, 2015). "Trudeau, Garry (1948-)". In Jarvis, Zeke (ed.). Make 'em Laugh! American Humorists of the 20th and 21st Centuries (E-book). California: Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO. pp. 68–69. ISBN 978-1-4408-2995-6. Retrieved February 22, 2021.
  38. ^ Hemingway, Mark (April 10, 2015). "Garry Trudeau Calls Charlie Hebdo 'Hate Speech'". Weekly Standard. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  39. ^ Trudeau, Gary (April 11, 2015). "The Abuse of Satire". The Atlantic. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  40. ^ Frum, David (April 13, 2015). "Why Garry Trudeau Is Wrong About Charlie Hebdo: The cartoonist urged satirists to "punch up" against authority, but the world does not divide so neatly between the privileged and their victims". The Atlantic. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  41. ^ Editorial Board (April 13, 2015). "Garry Trudeau, terror apologist". New York Post. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  42. ^ "Collection: Garry Trudeau papers | Archives at Yale". Archived from the original on March 22, 2019.
  43. ^ "Search results for Photo, Print, Drawing, Doonesbury, Available Online". Library of Congress.
  44. ^ "Home | National Museum of American History".
  45. ^ "Doonesbury".
  46. ^ "doonesbury – National Museum of Health and Medicine Search Results".
  47. ^ "Search Results for Doonesbury | Ohio State University – Cartoon Library & Museum".

External links[edit]