The cover of “I’m the Guy” as a refrigerator magnet, available on EBay for $4.99.
Long before newspaper humorists like Erma Bombeck and Dave Barry came on the scene, there was Rube L. Goldberg, Renaissance Man of entertainment. Cartoonist, columnist, and script writer, the witty Goldberg is perhaps most well known as the creator of images displaying zany out-of-this-world contraptions that when operated in sequence, perform a simple task like breaking an egg, ringing a bell, etc. He was also perhaps one of the first newspapermen to realize the value of “branding” himself, creating songs, shows, and film projects from his work.
Born on the Fourth of July, 1883 in San Francisco as Reuben Goldberg, the madcap wordmaster graduated from the UC Berkeley with a degree in engineering. Young Goldberg moved on to the San Francisco Chronicle and soon became a hit. Hired by the Hearst syndicate in New York, his work for the paper grabbed him lasting fame, combining his hilarious, breezy ideas with witty drawings and sayings that often became catch phrases. His Evening Mail syndicate gave me approximately seven million readers across the country. One of his cartoons in 1912 was called “I’m the Guy,” and displayed an odd little gentleman who seemed to always get the the goat of whoever he was dealing with, whether they discussed donuts, July 4, sports, or whatever.
Hollywood at Play, by Donovan Brandt, Mary Mallory and Stephen X. Sylvester is now on sale.