Thursday, December 9, 2010

Brenda Starr: "-30-"

Brenda Starr (comic strip)Image via WikipediaAfter a 70-year run as an intrepid literally ink-stained wretch, Brenda Starr, fiery red hair showing no hint of grey, is quitting the newspaper comic strip business.

According to a story in today's Chicago Tribune, Tribune Media Services has decided to end the comic strip on January 2, 2011, rather than find successors to current writer Mary Schmich and artist June Brigman, who decided to quit the strip after 25 years and 15 years, respectively.  The strip was the brainchild of former greeting-card artist Dale Messick, who penned the script from 1940 until she retired in 1980.

At its peak during the 1950s, the strip appeared in more than 250 newspapers worldwide. Presently, roughly 36 dailies carry the red-headed reporter's adventures, including The Boston Herald and The Chicago Tribune.

When Starr married her mysterious long-time eyepatch-wearing Brazilian beau Basil St. John in 1976, President Gerald Ford and First Lady Betty Ford sent their congratulations ("TUOL" is confident that the First Lady, at least, knew newlyweds Brenda & Basil were fictional characters).  The marriage produced a daughter, Starr Twinkle St. John, whose quirky moniker rivals that of Moon Unit and Dweezil Zappa, and no doubt doomed her to years of comic strip psychotherapy.

The fearless scribe flourished in the comics, but tanked in Hollywood, both in a 1976 TV movie starring Jill St. John (no relation to Basil), and even worse in a 1989 film that wasn't released until 1991 starring Brooke Shields and future 007 Timothy Dalton. She was also played by Joan Woodbury in an obscure 1945 serial.

Such is the state of the newspaper industry that even a voluptuous fictional journalist can't hold onto her job.

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