Mell Lazarus

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Mell Lazarus
Mell Lazarus, 1973.jpg
Lazarus in 1973
BornMelvin Lazarus
(1927-05-03)May 3, 1927
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
DiedMay 24, 2016(2016-05-24) (aged 89)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Area(s)Cartoonist, Novelist
Notable works
Miss Peach
AwardsReuben Award (1981)
Spouse(s)Sally Mitchell
ChildrenMargie, Suesan, Cathie

Melvin Lazarus (May 3, 1927[1] – May 24, 2016)[2] was an American cartoonist, best known as the creator of two comic strips, Miss Peach (1957–2002) and Momma (1970–2016). Additionally, he wrote two novels. For his comic strip Pauline McPeril (a 1966-69 collaboration with Jack Rickard), he used the pseudonym Fulton, which is also the name of a character in his first novel, The Boss Is Crazy, Too.


Lazarus was born in Brooklyn,[3] to Sydney Lazarus, a successful glass-blower, and Frances (née Mushkin) Lazarus, nicknamed Frankie.[4][5] Lazarus, who dropped out of high school, published his first cartoon at 16, and later enlisted in the U.S. Navy.[5]

During his twenties, he worked for Al Capp and his brother Elliott Caplin at the Capp family-owned Toby Press.[4] In the mid-1950s, he created two children's syndicated comic strips for General Features,[6] Wee Women and Li'l Ones.[4]

Miss Peach debuted on February 4, 1957, in the New York Herald Tribune, and ended up running for nearly 50 years.[4]

His comic strip Momma debuted on October 26, 1970. Although Lazarus based the title character on his own mother, she believed the character was based on his aunt, exclaiming, "You caught Aunt Helen to a tee!"[7]

In 1964, Lazarus talked about his background and working methods:

I never actually graduated high school. My art teacher flunked me. I have since, however, attended many classes of one kind or another. I frequently lecture at colleges and to other groups around the country. I sold my first cartoon when I was 16. I did commercial art and edited children's magazines prior to February 4, 1957 when my comic, Miss Peach, was launched. The characters in Miss Peach are not actually modeled on real persons, with the possible exception of Lester, the skinny kid in the strip. Possibly the most loved character is Arthur, the dopey little kid. I make notes all week based on thoughts, conversational fragments, etc. I sift through all these notes on Monday mornings and select several to develop. I then write gags for them. I do six daily strips and a Sunday page.[8]

Mell Lazarus' Miss Peach of May 29, 1960.

Lazarus served as President of the National Cartoonists Society for two consecutive terms, from 1989 to 1993.[9]

In 1992, Lazarus made a cameo appearance in the Murder, She Wrote episode "The Dead File".[10]


His novel The Boss Is Crazy, Too (Dial, 1963) concerns Carson Hemple, art director of a comic-book and confession-magazine publishing company, who is told by the owner to help force the company into bankruptcy, and who responds with inventive embezzlement schemes.[11] The book was inspired by his time at Toby Press.[2]

The Neighborhood Watch (Doubleday, 1986) is about an impoverished Brooklyn writer who steals from his wealthy neighbors. Its protagonist, widowed father Loring Neiman, having turned to burglary when his book is rejected, discovers he has a knack for it. He prepares to give up the criminal life after becoming romantically involved with a married woman, but a criminally inclined neighbor coerces him into one purportedly final robbery.[12] It was optioned for a movie.[3]


Lazarus won the National Cartoonists Society's award for Newspaper Strip, Humor, in 1973 and 1979, both times for Miss Peach.[13]

He won the Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year, for Miss Peach, in 1981, and the organization's Silver T-Square Award in 2000.[13]

On January 23, 2016, Lazarus became the second recipient of the National Cartoonists Society Medal of Honor, established the year before.[14]

Personal life[edit]

Lazarus was married twice, first to Eileen Lazarus, which ended in divorce; then to Sally Mitchell,[4] daughter of comic-strip gag writer Ed Mitchell.[2] Lazarus lived in Los Angeles from the 1970s until his death on May 24, 2016.[2][3] from complications from Alzheimer's.[4][5] He had three daughters, Margie, Suesan and Cathie; six grandchildren and one great grandson. [2]

In popular culture[edit]

He made a cameo appearance in the 1992 Murder She Wrote episode "The Dead File."

His membership in Mensa was mentioned in the 1999 episode They Saved Lisa's Brain of The Simpsons.[15]


  1. ^ Miller, John Jackson (June 10, 2005). "Comics Industry Birthdays". Comics Buyer's Guide (1485). Archived from the original on February 18, 2011. Retrieved December 12, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Mell Lazarus 1927-2016". National Cartoonists Society. May 24, 2016. Archived from the original on August 21, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c "About Mell Lazarus". Creators Syndicate. Archived from the original on September 6, 2017. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Roberts, Sam. "Mell Lazarus, Cartoonist of 'Miss Peach' and 'Momma,' Dies at 89". The New York Times. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Leovy, Jill (June 2, 2016). "Mell Lazarus dies at 89; Woodland Hills cartoonist behind 'Momma' and 'Miss Peach'". Los Angeles Times. California. Archived from the original on December 23, 2017. Retrieved December 23, 2017.
  6. ^ Lazarus entry, Who's Who of American Comic Books: 1928–1999. Accessed Oct, 25, 2018.
  7. ^ Markstein, Don. " Momma". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on March 9, 2016. Retrieved October 28, 2009.
  8. ^ Willette, Allen (1964). These Top Cartoonists Tell How They Create America's Favorite Comics. Allied Publications.
  9. ^ Roberts, Sam (May 25, 2016). "Mell Lazarus, Cartoonist of 'Miss Peach' and 'Momma,' Dies at 89". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  10. ^ "Murder, She Wrote" The Dead File (TV Episode 1992) - IMDb, retrieved December 5, 2019
  11. ^ "The Boss Is Crazy, Too". (review) Kirkus Reviews. June 3, 1963. Archived from the original on May 24, 2016. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
  12. ^ "The Neighborhood Watch". (review) Publishers Weekly. March 14, 1986. Archived from the original on May 24, 2016. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
  13. ^ a b "NCS Awards". National Cartoonists Society. Archived from the original on March 25, 2016. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
  14. ^ "Mell Lazarus Given the NCS Medal of Honor". National Cartoonists Society. February 4, 2016. Archived from the original on May 24, 2016. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
  15. ^ IvryMay 26, Benjamin; 2016WIkipedia. "Remembering Mell Lazarus, Creator of Miss Peach and Inspiration to Joseph Heller". The Forward. Retrieved December 5, 2019.

External links[edit]