Seymour Reit

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Seymour Reit
Born Seymour Victory Reit
(1918-11-11)November 11, 1918
New York City
Died November 21, 2001(2001-11-21) (aged 83)
New York City
Pen name Seymour Reit, Sy Reit
Occupation Writer, cartoonist
Alma mater New York University
Notable works Casper the Friendly Ghost[1]

Seymour Victory Reit (11 November 1918 – 21 November 2001) was the author of over 80 children's books as well as several works for adults.[2] Reit was the creator, with cartoonist Joe Oriolo, of the character Casper the Friendly Ghost.[3] Reit started his career working for Fleischer Studios as an animator; he also worked for Jerry Iger and Will Eisner as a cartoonist, for Laffboy as editor in 1965, and for Mad Magazine and several other publications as a humorist.[2]


Reit was born in New York City on 11 November 1918 (Armistice Day).[2] He attended DeWitt Clinton High School and New York University, where he drew cartoons for humorous college magazines. He worked as an in-betweener and inker on the 1939 animated film Gulliver's Travels, and later became a gag writer for the Popeye and Betty Boop cartoon series, among others. He also anonymously produced comic strips for Jerry Iger under the Fiction House label.[2] He attended New York University with future Captain Marvel writer William Woolfolk; and helped launch Woolfolk's career as a writer of comics by introducing him to Jerry Iger and Will Eisner.[4]

Reit served in World War II in a U.S. Army Air Force camouflage unit tasked with defending the West Coast from a Japanese invasion, and later served in Europe after D-Day. He later wrote a book, The Amazing Camouflage Deceptions of World War II, drawing on his wartime experience.[2][3] It contains a version of the urban legend which claims that British aviators taunted the German Army by dropping a wooden bomb on a decoy airfield the Germans had built.[5]

After the war, Reit did cartoon work for Archie and Little Lulu, and wrote gags for some of the new Casper animated shorts that were being produced. He also wrote for the TV series Captain Kangaroo. In 1950 he started working for the publications department of the Bank Street College of Education in New York, and also scripted industrial films and radio shows. In the late 1950s, he began submitting work to Mad Magazine, ultimately contributing over 60 pieces.[2][6] One of Reit's articles for Mad, "The 'Down-To-Earth' Coloring Book," appeared in the summer of 1960 and anticipated (or helped inspire) the faddish publishing boom of "adult" coloring books.[7]


Reit Died suddenly after treatment for a heart ailment From New York City in November 21 2001, according to his wife Edmee.


Reit wrote over 80 books, primarily for children, on a variety of historical, technical, natural, and other subjects.[3] One of his titles for adults, The Day They Stole the Mona Lisa, written in 1981, is about the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911.[2] In the book, Reit asserted that there were two genuine Mona Lisas in the world: the one in the Louvre, and an earlier version of the work painted by Leonardo da Vinci which was being held in a bank vault in New Jersey (the so-called "Vernon Mona Lisa").[8] A long-planned movie adaptation of the book[9] has never materialized, although the Internet Movie Database lists a movie by the same title tentatively planned for 2009.[10]

Selected bibliography[edit]

Book Year Publisher Pages Notes
Behind Rebel Lines 2001 Harcourt Children's Books 130 About Sarah Emma Edmonds, a woman who masqueraded as a man and served as a spy for the Union Army during the United States Civil War.[11]
Guns for General Washington 2001 Gulliver Books Paperbacks 160 About William and Henry Knox, brothers tasked with transporting 60 tons of cannons 300 miles that played a decisive role in the Siege of Boston.[12]
A Dog's Tale 1996 Random House Children's Books 32 Featured on episode 137 of the PBS TV series Reading Rainbow.[13][14]
Trains 1990 Western Publishing 45 An illustrated history of railway transportation.[15]
Scotland Yard Detective 1987 Bantam Books 144 Part of the Time Machine series, a spinoff of the Choose Your Own Adventure books.[16]
Sibling Rivalry 1985 Ballantine Books 171 About the causes of sibling rivalry and how to cope with it.[17]
The Day They Stole the Mona Lisa 1981 Summit Books 254 About the theft of the Mona Lisa.[18]
The Pleasure of Their Company: How to Have More Fun with Your Children 1981 Chilton Book Co. 373 Suggests activities for children and adults to share and techniques for controlling children's television-watching, diet, and play habits.[19]
Masquerade: The Amazing Camouflage Deceptions of World War II 1978 Hawthorn Books 255 Reprinted in 1980 as The Hidden War: The Amazing Camouflage Deception of World War II.[20]
Sails, Rails, and Wings 1978 Random House Children's Books 69 [21]
Ironclad!: A True Story of the Civil War 1977 Dodd, Mead 92 [22]
The Worried Ghost 1976 Scholastic Book Services 95 [23]
Race Against Death: A True Story of the Far North 1976 Dodd, Mead 94 About the 1925 serum run to Nome, Alaska.[24]
Benvenuto and the Carnival 1976 Xerox Education Publications 93 A boy's pet dragon is captured and placed in a carnival.[25]
Benvenuto 1974 Addison-Wesley 126 About a boy who brings home a dragon from camp.[26]
Rice Cakes and Paper Dragons 1973 Dodd, Mead 79 About a girl living in New York City's Chinatown.[27]
The Easy How-To Book 1973 Golden Press 48 Instruction for children on how to do everyday tasks.[28]
Child of the Navajos 1971 Dodd, Mead 64 About a nine-year-old boy living on a modern Indian reservation.[29]
The Magic of Everyday Things 1970 Western Publishing 62 [30]
Growing Up in the White House 1968 Crowell-Collier Press 118 A history of presidential children.[31]
America Laughs: a Treasury of Great Humor 1966 Crowell-Collier Press 152 [32]
Coins and Coin Collecting 1965 Golden Press 105 An introductory manual for numismatists.[33]
Wheels, Sails, and Wings 1961 Golden Press 94 [34]

In addition to those listed here, Reit wrote several books for Golden Press, publishers of the Little Golden Books series, and dozens of other children's books for assorted publishers.


  1. ^ Nash, Eric P. (2001-12-17). "Seymour V. Reit, 83, a Creator of Casper the Friendly Ghost". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-21. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Obituary: Seymour Reit". The Guardian. London. 2001-12-24. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  3. ^ a b c Woo, Elaine (2001-12-18). "Seymour Reit, 83; Drew Cartoon Ghost Casper". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  4. ^ Nash, Eric P. (2003-08-09). "William Woolfolk, 86, Writer Behind Comic-Book Heroes". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  5. ^ "Lip Bomb". Snopes (Urban Legends Reference Pages). 2005-10-01. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  6. ^ Nash, Eric P. (2001-12-17). "Seymour V. Reit, 83, a Creator of Casper the Friendly Ghost". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  7. ^ Jacobs, Frank, The Mad World of William M. Gaines, Lyle Stuart Press, 1972, pgs. 191-192
  8. ^ Taliaferro, Frances (1981-07-26). "Nonfiction in brief". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  9. ^ Van Gelder, Lawrence (1990-03-02). "At the Movies". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  10. ^ "The Day They Stole the Mona Lisa (2009)". Internet Movie Database. 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  11. ^ Behind Rebel Lines, Google Book Search.
  12. ^ Guns for General Washington, Google Book Search.
  13. ^ "FOR YOUNGER VIEWERS; He's a Party Animal". New York Times. 2008-11-19. Retrieved 2008-08-17. 
  14. ^ A Dog's Tale, Google Book Search.
  15. ^ Trains, Google Book Search.
  16. ^ Scotland Yard Detective, Google Book Search.
  17. ^ Sibling Rivalry, Google Book Search.
  18. ^ They Day They Stole the Mona Lisa, Google Book Search.
  19. ^ The Pleasure of Their Company, Google Book Search.
  20. ^ Masquerade, Google Book Search.
  21. ^ Sails, Rails, and Wings, Google Book Search.
  22. ^ Ironclad!: A True Story of the Civil War, Alibris.
  23. ^ The Worried Ghost, WorldCat.
  24. ^ Race Against Death, Google Book Search.
  25. ^ Benvenuto and the Carnival, Google Book Search.
  26. ^ Benvenuto, Google Book Search.
  27. ^ Rice Cakes and Paper Dragons, Google Book Search.
  28. ^ The Easy How-To Book, Google Book Search.
  29. ^ Child of the Navajos, Google Book Search.
  30. ^ The Magic of Everyday Things, Google Book Search.
  31. ^ Growing Up in the White House, Google Book Search.
  32. ^ America Laughs, Google Book Search.
  33. ^ Coins and Coin Collecting, Google Book Search.
  34. ^ Wheels, Sails, and Wings, Google Book Search.

External links[edit]