Bil Keane Biography, Life, Interesting Facts


Bil Keane

Birthday :

October 5, 1922

Birth Place :

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America

Zodiac Sign :


Bil Keane was christened William Aloysius Keane at birth, and his parents were Florence and Aloysius Keane. He was born on the 5th of October 1922 in the U.S. state of Philadelphia. In his early years, Bil took to cartooning by drawing on his walls in the enclosure of his bedroom.

Bil Keane was raised a Catholic and attended the Northwest Catholic High to complete his teenage years of Catholic instruction. He started work at the Philadelphia Bulletin afterward and took up the role of a messenger. It was not long going forward that he buddied up with the artists who work for the publication after observing them at work.

In his high school years, Bil was cartooning for the student magazine as a pastime. He later worked for the U.S military newspapers as a cartoonist while serving in Australia.

Early Career

During WWII, Bil Keane was in Australia, and he started the series of cartoons that had the tag “At Ease with the Japanese.” When the war ended, Bil returned to Philadelphia to work for The Philadelphia Bulletin. This was in 1946, and he started off as a staff artist and churned out cartoons for the Sunday edition of the Philadelphia Bulletin supplement known as the Fun Book. He wove tales around “Silly Philly” and the round-head images in the series he called the Corn Crib.

Bil Keane's family relocated to the state of Arizona after that in 1959, and it was here that Keane started off drawing a series of cartoons based on the experiences of his life and family.


A Brand Arising

Bil Keane worked hard on his line of the delivery, and at intervals, he experimented with other characters in his comic features. Bil was not drawn to syndication, and many of them were short-lived. He also freelances a number of his ideas as cartons which featured in the Evening Post published by Collier on Saturdays as well as Look and This West. Other publications picked up his works for the next 13 years. When the year 1954 dawned, Bil Keane was keen to distribute the Corn crib, and he made contact with the Register & Tribune publishing group. The Des Moines leading lights however asked for a slant on entertainment that was generating a furor across the country then.

Keane worked with his syndicate after the first quarter ended in 1959 with ideas that revolved around reported events. He wove these as cartoons and named it called Spot News. The thoughts were pantomime in nature but could only last until fall when it lost steam. The Spot News gave Keane an insight as it was delivered in circle strips when published. This was such that was bound to ignite a reader’s interest as a result of its design. The idea was such that it did appear like an “Ear,” which could fit well on the front page. As Bil reviewed the presentation of this and ruminated on them, Keane chanced on the family circle as a theme he would love to present after that.


Enter “The Family Circle” 

When Bil Keane presented his ideas to the syndicate, he called it The Circle Family, but the handlers settled for The Family Circle. This new effort debuted in February 1960 and was splashed across a total of nineteen newspapers. As a magazine already used the name Family Circle, the threat of litigation arose within six months of the debut of Keane’s effort. Eventually, along with his editor, Kane settled for The Family Circus instead. It was a way to surmise Bil's life experiences, and it was unveiled on 15th August 1960. Bil ended magazine freelancing of his cartoons and stopped new acts for Silly Philly. This gave Keane ample time to focus on The Family Circus and Channel Chuckles.

Bil Keane's deepening of Channel Chuckles brought up a new dilemma for news media who felt it could upend their delivery pattern. However, they soon found a way to accommodate ideas like these and this was how TV program schedule and gossip features emerged. Channel Chuckles was a good fit for the new formats and had a run till 1976.


Comic Streak

Bil Keane made a mark with his comic streak, and he wove his tales based on his real-life experiences as a father. Living with five kids provided him enough inspiration to play with as the years rolled by. Bil alluded to this in an interview when he added that he was also a grandfather at the time of nine children. It was a mix of inspiration and perspiration from both divides that kept his creative juice flowing.

Keane debuted on Larry King’s radio show in 1980 and made a comic impression of his appearance with such gravelly voice.


Other Notable Mentions

Asked how the name Bil’ emerged, he alluded that it was the comic side of him that took on the moniker. It is a testament to his genius that this dose of comic arts ran for more than five decades and was seen in 1,500 newspapers. Bil's shade of humor was home-spun, and since it was family-centered, it did not raise any eyebrows about admissible content. He built the ideas around family, and everyone could identify with this in a lifetime.


Common Attribution

Bil Keane got a 2002 diadem from the National Cartoonist's Society when he was presented .the Silver T-Square Award.


Bil Keane got married in the year 1948 to Thelma Carne, and the union produced five children. One of his sons, Jeff, also took after his father and worked as a cartoonist

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