Current status / schedule
Jiggs & Maggie
May 28, 2000
Bringing Up Father (1946)
The Katzenjammer Kids, Blondie, Barney Google and Snuff, Happy Hooligan, Krazy Kat
- Characters and story
- Topper strips
- International syndication
- Sheet music
- Live action Two reel shorts
- Live action Feature films
- Comic books
- Collections and reprints
- Parodies and guest appearances
Many readers, however, simply called the strip "Jiggs and Maggie" (or "Maggie and Jiggs"), after its two main characters. According to McManus, he introduced these same characters in other strips as early as November 1911.
Characters and story
The humor centers on an immigrant Irishman named Jiggs, a former hod carrier who came into wealth in the United States by winning a million dollars in a sweepstakes. Now nouveau-riche, he still longs to revert to his former working class habits and lifestyle. His constant attempts to sneak out with his old gang of boisterous, rough-edged pals, eat corned beef and cabbage (known regionally as "Jiggs dinner") and hang out at the local tavern were often thwarted by his formidable, social-climbing (and rolling-pin wielding) harridan of a wife, Maggie, their lovely young daughter, Nora, and infrequently their lazy son, Ethelbert, later known as just Sonny.
The strip deals with "lace-curtain Irish", with Maggie as the middle-class Irish American desiring assimilation into mainstream society in counterpoint to an older, more raffish "shanty Irish" sensibility represented by Jiggs. Her lofty goal—frustrated in nearly every strip—is to bring father (the lowbrow Jiggs) "up" to upper class standards, hence the title, Bringing Up Father. The occasional malapropisms and left-footed social blunders of these upward mobiles were gleefully lampooned in vaudeville, popular song, and formed the basis for Bringing Up Father. The strip presented multiple perceptions of Irish Catholic ethnics during the early 20th century. Through the character Jiggs, McManus gave voice to their anxieties and aspirations. Varied interpretations of McManus's work often highlight difficult issues of ethnicity and class, such as the conflicts over assimilation and social mobility that second- and third-generation immigrants confronted. McManus took a middle position, which aided ethnic readers in becoming accepted in American society without losing their identity. A cross-country tour that the characters took in September 1939 into 1940 gave the strip a big promotional boost and raised its profile in the cities they visited.
Jiggs and Maggie were generally drawn with circles for eyes, a feature more often associated with the later strip, Little Orphan Annie.
In 1913, Rosie's Beau was McManus' Sunday page, and he later revived it as a Sunday topper strip above Bringing Up Father. On April 17, 1938, an absent-minded character named Sir Von Platter in Rosie's Beau realized he was in the wrong place and climbed down into the first panel of Bringing Up Father, arriving in the living room of Maggie and Jiggs.
In 1941, McManus replaced Rosie's Beau with Snookums (itself a revival of a 1900s McManus strip, The Newlyweds, now focused on their son, the titular character) which ran as the topper above Bringing Up Father until 1956. In the final episode of HBO's The Pacific (2010), Robert Leckie (James Badge Dale) is seen reading Snookums. The Pacific is partially based on Leckie's book, Helmet for My Pillow (1957), but there is no mention of Snookums in Leckie's book.
Between 1935 and 1954, McManus' assistant Zeke Zekley made a major contribution to the strip in both writing and art. When McManus died in 1954, the strip continued with other artists, including Bill Kavanagh and Frank Fletcher. Within the cartoonist community, it was expected that Zekley would take over the strip, but instead King Features replaced both McManus and Zekley with Vernon Greene. With Greene's death in 1965, Hal Campagna stepped in, and Frank Johnson (Boner's Ark) replaced Campagna in 1980. (Hy Eisman ghosted the strip for a short time after Greene's death. King Features wanted him to take it over, but Eisman was close friends with Greene, and he was unable to agree to take the strip on.) The strip's popularity faded, and Bringing Up Father limped along until its 87-year run came to a close on May 28, 2000.
In 1995, the strip was one of 20 included in the Comic Strip Classics series of commemorative US postage stamps. Bringing Up Father went digital in 2007 when King Features made the strip available as one of the selections in its DailyINK email package.
Bringing Up Father still enjoys popularity in Norway; known as Fiinbeck og Fia, the strip has been published weekly in the family journal Hjemmet since 1921; a yearly Christmas book with the strip is published every year since 1930, in the last few decades mostly reprints of material produced by McManus in the 1940s and 1950s. A similar publication was also an annual event (from 1931 to 1977) in Sweden, where the strip is known as Gyllenbom. In Turkey, the strip was published daily by Hürriyet until the late 1990s under the name Güngörmüşler (The Worldly-wiseds) with Jiggs renamed to Şaban and Maggie renamed to Tonton (darling).
Gus Hill's production of Bringing Up Father opened on Broadway in 1914, with music composed by Frank H. Grey, lyrics by Elven E. Hedges, libretto by John P. Mulgrew and Thomas Swift, choreography by Edward Hutchinson, and directed by Frank Tannehill, Jr. Hill produced many more theatrical versions of the strip that toured the country, including Bringing Up Father in Florida, Bringing Up Father on Broadway, Bringing Up Father in Ireland, Bringing Up Father Abroad, and Bringing Up Father in Wall Street.
Bringing Up Father at the Seashore opened on Broadway at the Manhattan Opera House in 1921, but closed after 18 performances; a revised version reopened in 1928. Another of Hill's productions of Father opened at the Lyric Theatre in 1925. "Reportedly, this version had Maggie following a fleeing Jiggs from Ireland to a yacht headed for Spain, but the story was halted frequently for various vaudeville acts. The show closed after 24 performances," according to The Holloway Pages' history of the strip.
• "Bringing Up Father" (1920 green cover, same design as earlier red cover) Songs include: "The Rose You gave me", "Why Don't They Let The Girlies go To Sea ?", "Let's get The Irish Over here". PLUS: advice, jokes and magic tricks.
Sponsored by Lever Brothers, the Bringing Up Father radio series aired on the Blue Network from July 1 to September 30, 1941, starring Mark Smith (1887–1944) as Jiggs and Agnes Moorehead as Maggie. Neil O'Malley also portrayed Jiggs. Their daughter Nora was played by Helen Shields and Joan Banks. Craig McDonnell (1907–1956) was heard in the role of Dinty Moore. The 30-minute program aired Tuesdays at 9pm.
The following are silent animated cartoons based on Bringing Up Father, all produced by International Film Service and released through Pathé Exchange:
Live-action Two-reel shorts
A series of live-action silent comedies featured comedian Johnny Ray as Jiggs, Margaret Cullington as Maggie and Laura La Plante as daughter Nora. Directed by Reggie Morris, these were produced by International Film Service and released through Pathé Exchange. Confusingly enough, a couple of the titles were duplicated from the earlier cartoons. This series included:
Live-action Feature films
The following feature-length movies were based on the strip:
The last entry produced four sequels, all released by Monogram:
The series was discontinued due to the death of Joe Yule in March 1950. (Yule is the father of Mickey Rooney, who expressed interest in reviving Jiggs onstage in the late 1980s. Both Martha Raye and Cloris Leachman were considered for the part of Maggie, but the project was never produced.)