Like comic pages torn
from the newspapers of life, my own life story is crowded
as much by bizarre adventure, by pathos and by poignant comedy, as
that of the world's famous cartoon character.
He paused for a moment or two, then added, "Not one like Doc Yak,
this will be human, a character drawn from life, it was be
American, typically American, and Andy, I will name it Andy Gump."
THAT WAS HOW ANDY GUMP WAS BORN
Sometime later the railroad began cutting men from its force and I
was among those left without a job. By this time, Andy Gump was
becoming a household name, so I changed my name from Andy Wheat
to Andy Gump and secured a department store job at Tucson.
That was just the beginning, so far as I was concerned. For the
past years I have made my livelihood through posing, and when I
was at Chicago, posing as a mechanical man at the Century of
Progress Exposition, Robert L. Ripley saw me and said, "Believe it
or Not, there is a living statue."
And now the one whom I have to live proud over is my two-year old
young son, little Golizth, who remains with my charming wife
Minnie at their California home.
Above excerpt and
photo from My Life Story by Andy Gump Pitch Booklet.
Andy Wheat aka
Andy Wheat aka Andy
ANDY GUMP IN PERSON
Andy Wheat aka Andy Gump
Of the thousands who have followed the comic strip "The Gumps."
probably few are aware that the original of the chief
character was a real Andy Gump.
Born 47 years ago in Bay St. Louis, Miss. as Andy Wheat, he
acquired his unusual physiognomy as the result of an infection
flowing the extraction of a tooth, which eventually
necessitated the removal of his entire lower jaw. Through Dr.
Thomas Smith of Bloomingdale Ill., a den tist and a brother of
Sidney Smith, he met the cartoonist, who saw in him an ideal
comic character. Andy subsequently had his name legally
changed to Gump.
His wife's name is Min and he has two children named Chester
and Golizth, now living in San Francisco, and an Uncle Bim who
lives in Georgia. His home is in Tucson, Ariz., but he also
has a farm near his birthplace in Mississippi.
JOHN L. WARNER Watertown, N. Y.
Letter to the Editor - Life Magazine
- July 12, 1937
PRODUCT OF IMAGINATION
Our reaction to
the July 12th issue of LIFE was favorable until we reached
page 90, which carried pictures of Andy Wheat, captioned "Andy
Gump in Person," together with a letter from John L. Warner,
of Watertown, N.Y. You may or May not know that the Chicago
Tribune-New York News Syndicate, Inc. owns the comic feature
"The Gumps," in which appears the character "Andy Gump." We
would like to call your attention to the fact that Mr.
Warner's story of "Andy Gump in Person" is without basis in
fact. Sidney Smith created the comic character "Andy Gump"
about twenty years ago, and this character was entirely the
product of his own imagination. We have in our possession a
recent affidavit from Dr. Thomas Smith, of Bloomington,
Illinois, (not Bloomindale) that neither he nor his brother,
Sidney Smith, ever met Andy Wheat until about four years ago.
This is not the first instance of a claim to the honor of
being the original "Andy Gump." A few years ago another
person put forth this claim, but his claim was thoroughly
discredited. We have heard that there are others who have put
forward similar claims. We are enclosing herewith a picture
of one such person. This might be of interest to such of your
readers who have followed the adventures of the man who "wears
no mans collar." Which individual bears the closest
resemblance to Sidney Smith's brain child is a matter of
individual choice. We know that none of them bear such
We assume that Mr. Warner's pictures were published without
knowledge on the part of the Editors of LIFE of the real
facts, and we therefore request that the Editors of LIFE give
this communication equal prominence with the pictures
appearing in the July 12 issue.
ARTHUR W. CRAWFORD. General Manager
Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate, Inc. Chicago. Ill.
Response letter to the
Editor Life Mag. Aug 23, 1937
The picture below, submitted by Mr. Crawford is
of David Hoag of Canandaiqua, N. Y. who died two yours ago 1935
The picture you have posted
as David Hoag under the Face subsection of human wonders of the
world is a photograph of my great grandfather, David Alexander
Hoag. He was diagnosed with oral cancer in the early 1900s and
had his upper and lower jaw surgically resected in order to
remove the tumors. Since he is depicted on your website, I am
wondering whether this picture was taken from a "pitch card" for
a sideshow -- I am aware the picture was used as part of a libel
suit that my great grandfather initiated against three
newspapers in 1927, claiming that the cartoon of Andy Gump was
based on his likeness and he felt the cartoon ridiculed his
As the family genealogist, I am interested in learning if indeed
my great grandfather participated in sideshows or used the photo
to earn money. This was not information that was passed down
through family generations, so any information you have about
David Hoag would greatly interest me.
Thanks in advance for your cooperation.
~ Nancy L. Hoag
David Hoag the Chinless Wonder
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