A Look Back at Jefferson Machamer’s “Gags & Gals”

In the early 1930s, Machamer returned to the Hearst fold. The Gags and Gals page, samples of which we present here, started in the New York Mirror. The gags used Machamer’s favorite subjects: leggy, pretty girls, predatory males and old boys in tuxedos. Machamer himself—depicted as a short, rotund, mustachioed loser (nowhere near as dapper as he’d been in “High Hat”)—starred in the strip that ran across the bottom of the page. Machamer was one of those artists whose work is pretty much always fun to look at, but he usually settled for gags that fell short of being hilarious.

Sometime in the middle 1930s, Machamer migrated to southern California. And sometime after that he married movie actress Pauline Moore. Attractive and talented, Moore never quite became a star. She was in such A-budget films as Young Mr. Lincoln, Heidi and Three Blind Mice. But she eventually moved into the 20th Century Fox B-unit. Today, she is best remembered for her performances in two 1939 Charlie Chan movies: Charlie Chan in Reno and Charlie Chan at Treasure Island. In the latter, she gives an effective performance as the psychic Eve Cairo, who assists magician Cesar Romero. She moved to Republic in the 1940s, working in a serial and in some Roy Rogers westerns.

During a 1994 interview in Films in Review, Moore mentioned that her husband was never that enthusiastic about her career and discouraged her acting. Machamer’s attitude may partly account for the only mildly funny, and often sour, strip he did in 1940 for the small Frank J. Markey Syndicate. Hollywood Husband was about a rather ineffectual fellow—looking like a more realistic caricature of Machamer—who was married to a glamorous movie star named Elsie Saffle. Elsie looked nothing like Pauline Moore and, like all of Machamer’s women of the 1940s, was built along pinup lines. The strip, daily and Sunday, lasted less than three months.

Despite this setback, Machamer’s career continued to more or less thrive well into the 1940s. He was hitting such slick magazines as Collier’s with gag cartoons and drawing ads for Wheaties and other national products. He wrote a book on cartooning called Laugh and Draw with Jefferson Machamer. But gradually his work went out of fashion and his last cartoons ran in such low-paying markets as Martin Goodman’s Humorama. He was residing in Santa Monica, still married to Pauline Moore, at the time of his death in 1960.

 

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