“Dr. Seuss” Goes to War in New Exhibit at Holocaust Museum Houston

HOUSTON, TX (Aug. 18, 2008) "Dr. Seuss," whose real-life name was Theodor Seuss Geisel, is best known for his children’s books written under the "Dr. Seuss" pen name, but he was a life-long cartoonist who also drafted more than 400 newspaper and magazine editorial cartoons expressing his concern and opinions in the early years of World War II.

Those works are the focus of a new exhibit "Dr. Seuss Wants You!" opening Friday, Sept. 26, 2008 in the Central Gallery at Holocaust Museum Houston’s Morgan Family Center, 5401 Caroline St., in Houston’s Museum District. The exhibit will remain on view through July 5, 2009. Admission is free.

The unexpected and serious side of Geisel’s work provides new insights into an America divided during that time. He focused on the concerns that America needed to address while World War II engulfed the world and demonstrated in simple truth how individuals must become aware, informed and involved in their surroundings to take thoughtful and decisive action.

His work continues to inspire people of all backgrounds and ages to think and care about the fate of humanity.

The exhibit will include a variety of his illustrations from 1940s newspapers, including ones with such provocative captions as "When the Sucker Season Opens, Don’t You Bite," a challenge to Adolf Hitler’s offer of what Geisel called "peace bait" to the rest of the world. Another shows Hitler at a "ball and chain shop" and is entitled "Measuring Up a Couple of Prospects." The illustration refers to ankle, neck and wrist chains for "you and me."

The original papers are on loan from Gregg and Michelle Philipson of Austin. Gregg Philipson is a member of the Museum’s Advisory Board and a collector of Geisel memorabilia.

Most of the artwork in the exhibit was developed while Geisel served as chief political cartoonist for the New York newspaper PM from 1941 to 1943, a period in which the Nazi regime prospered – prompting more than 400 editorial cartoons from Geisel.

The exhibit is an original production of The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is based on the book "Dr. Seuss Goes to War" by historian Richard H. Minear.

Geisel also drew a set of war bonds "cartoons" which appeared in many newspapers, as well as in PM. They appeared under such controversial captions as "Insure Your Home Against Hitler: Buy War Savings Bonds" and "You Too Can Sink U-Boats!"

Geisel was born in 1904 and began his career as a cartoonist in high school in Springfield, Massachusetts. He continued drawing while in college at Dartmouth and then became an advertising man in New York City before World War II, where he began writing his many children’s books, beginning with "To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street."

During World War II, he joined the Army to work in an animation department of the Air Force, where he wrote "Design for Death," a film that later won the 1947 Academy Award for documentary feature.

During his career, he published more than 60 books. His work has been adapted numerous times, including in 11 television specials, three feature films and a Broadway musical.

Geisel, a long-time resident of La Jolla, California, died in September 1991.

This exhibit is generously underwritten by Houston Endowment, Inc., with special thanks to Continental Airlines, official airline of Holocaust Museum Houston.

Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims and honoring the survivors' legacy. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, the Museum teaches the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy.

The Museum is free and open to the public and is located in Houston’s Museum District at 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004.

For more information about the Museum or this exhibit, call 713-942-8000 or visit www.hmh.org.

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