Bill Mauldin, who won a Pulitzer Prize for cartoons
he drew while covering World War II for Stars and
Stripes, died Wednesday. He was 81.
One of the 20th century’s pre-eminent editorial
cartoonists, Mauldin died of complications from
Alzheimer’s disease, including pneumonia, at a Newport
Beach, Calif., nursing home, said Andy Mauldin, one of
the cartoonist’s seven sons.
"It’s really good that he’s not suffering anymore,"
he said. "He had a terrible struggle."
Mauldin, who was an Army rifleman, drew a pair of
tired and downtrodden soldiers named Willie and Joe,
whose wry observations of life on Europe’s front lines
were loved by soldiers and loathed by many in command,
including Gen. George S. Patton.
Andy Rooney, a commentator for CBS’ "60 Minutes,"
worked for Stars and Stripes with Mauldin during World
"There was one cartoon that just infuriated Patton,"
Rooney said in a recent phone interview. "There was a
Patton-type general with one of his aides, and he was
looking over this beautiful vista, and he says to the
aide, ‘Is there one of these for the enlisted men?’
"He was quite shy. He didn’t come on very strong. He
sat in the corner watching the world go by," Rooney
William Henry Mauldin was born Oct. 29, 1921, in
Mountain Park, N.M., the son of a hard-drinking
jack-of-all-trades who moved the family around the
Southwest and northern Mexico during the Depression in
search of work.
At 13, Mauldin saw an ad for a correspondence course
in cartooning in Popular Mechanics magazine that claimed
he could earn one as much as $100,000 a year. Mauldin
borrowed the $20 tuition from his grandmother and
After the war, Mauldin did freelance work. He joined
the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1958, where he won a
second Pulitzer, then switched to the Chicago Sun-Times
It was at the Sun-Times that he drew one of his most
poignant and famous cartoons when President Kennedy was
assassinated. The drawing showed a grieving Abraham
Lincoln, his hands covering his face, at the Lincoln
Mauldin is survived by former wives Jean Mauldin and
Christine Lund and all of his sons. Funeral arrangements
were incomplete, but burial is planned in Arlington
A meeting between Patton and Mauldin was arranged
after Patton threatened to stop distribution of Stars
and Stripes in 3rd Army areas because of cartoons and
photographs which depicted soldiers in "unsoldierly"
Mauldin recalled the meeting in his book, "The Brass
Ring," published in 1972:
"There he sat, big as life even at that distance. … A
mass of ribbons started around desktop level and spread
upward in a flood over his chest to the top of his
shoulder, as if preparing to march down his back,
"‘Now then, sergeant, about those pictures you draw,
where did you ever see soldiers like that? You know damn
well you’re not drawing an accurate representation of
the American soldier. You make them look like bums. No
respect for the Army, their officers or
Patton grilled Mauldin about his cartoons, finally
telling Mauldin that they "understand each other now."
"Years later I read of Patton’s reaction when (Gen.
Dwight D. Eisenhower’s aide, Navy Capt. Harry) Butcher
read my account of the meeting to him over the phone.
When he quoted me as saying I hadn’t changed the
general’s mind, there was a chuckle. When he came to the
part about his not changing my mind either, there was a
high-pitched explosion and more talk about throwing me
in jail if I ever showed up again in 3rd Army."
The Associated Press contributed to this