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'Willie and Joe' Creator Bill Mauldin Dies at 81

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23, 2003 – World War II soldier-cartoonist Bill Mauldin, creator of the classic "Willie and Joe" characters, died Jan. 22 in a nursing home in Newport Beach, Calif.

Mauldin, 81, was weakened by Alzheimer's disease and had succumbed to pneumonia.

During World War II, then-Sgt. Mauldin earned fame for the cartoon exploits of his two unshaven, weary, but wry, Army infantrymen as they fought Hitler's Wehrmacht troops across Europe.

One of Mauldin's cartoons of the time shows a soldier pointing his.45-caliber automatic pistol at the hood of his jeep, which has a flat tire.

Much beloved by rank-and-file troops, Willie and Joe made regular appearances in the "Stars and Stripes" newspaper and other military publications.

In 1945, the 23-year-old Mauldin earned a Pulitzer Prize for his wartime work, "Up Front," in which Willie and Joe played star roles.

Fourteen years later, he won another Pulitzer while working at the St. Louis Dispatch for his Cold War-era cartoon depiction of imprisoned Soviet novelist Boris Pasternak questioning another prisoner: "I won the Nobel Prize for Literature. What was your crime?"

Mauldin was born Oct. 29, 1921, in Mountain Park, N.M., and studied art in Chicago. He later joined the Arizona National Guard just before World War II. The Guard was federalized in 1940, and Mauldin became a U.S. Army soldier.

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