February 29, 1960 – The Family Circus, including Bil, Thelma, Billy, Dolly, Jeffy and P.J., first debuted in American newspapers through King Feature Syndicate. The vision of Bill Kean, the strip is based, in part, on his life with his wife and children. Originally the Family Circle, the name was changed after Family Circle magazine objected.
Keane was originally from Philadelphia and taught himself to draw duplicating the style of cartoons in the New Yorker while attending Northeast High School for Boys. He Served in World War II and met and married his bride in Brisbane, Australia. Returning to the U.S., he eventually settled in Paradise Valley, AZ and gave birth to his strip. In reality, Kean had five children, Gayle, Neal, Glen, Christopher and Jeff. Sadly, Thel, the real “Mommy” died in 2008 from complications of Alzheimer’s. Bill passed in 2011 from heart failure and the strip was taken over by youngest son Jeff. In addition to The Family Circus, Keane also published Channel Chuckles from 1954 to 1977. The Family Circus remains one of the most popular cartoons of all time, considered the most syndicated comic strip in the world, and has lived alongside the major events of our time for more than 50 years.