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June 15: Hilda Terry

Lawrence Bush
June 15, 2010

terry_photoHilda Terry (Theresa Hilda Fellman), the first woman admitted to the National Cartoonists Society (1950), was born on this date in Massachusetts in 1914. Terry created “Teena,” a strip about stylish adolescent girls that ran in newspapers from 1941 to 1964. She was also known for her gigantic portraits of baseball players, which were featured on stadium scoreboards in the 1970s. Terry was an early pioneer of computer animation and taught at the Art Students League into her nineties. In 1980 she was awarded the Rube Goldberg award by the NCS. Terry and her husband, cartoonist Gregory d’Alessio, were the hosts of the “Silly Center Opera Company,” a weekly gathering of guitarists that was often attended by Andres Segovia and Carl Sandburg. She was a sincere believer in reincarnation (she thought herself to be the reincarnation of a child victim of the Salem witchcraft trials) and wrote a religious book called “Does God Eat Us? (1992).
“WHEREAS there is no information . . . To denote that [NCS] is exclusively a men’s organization, and WHEREAS a professional organization that excludes women in this day and age is unheard of and unthought of, and WHEREAS the public is therefore left to assume, when they are interested in any cartoonist of the female sex, that said cartoonist must be excluded . . . for other reasons damaging to the cartoonist’s professional prestige, we most humbly request that you . . . alter your title to the National Men Cartoonists Society . . .” —Hilda Terry

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.