News of Yore: Mary Jane Outcault Profiled by her Dad

Mary Jane in Real Life
Buster Brown’s Bewitching Little Playmate Described By Her Father

By R.F. Outcault

Of course everybody knows Mary Jane because she is Buster Brown’s constant companion, but very few people know the real Mary Jane in private life. And there is such a little lady — yes, very decidedly. Her name in full is just Mary Jane Outcault, and she lives, when she is at home, at Flushing, L. I. But she is not always at home; indeed she is quite a globe trotter.

Every little girl In the land knows the hair ribbon that she has made famous, and most any little girl would be proud to own as large a collection of such ribbons. Many a poor little girl has been made happy by the gift of one or more of these bow-knots, for Mary Jane is a very generous girl. One of the reasons Buster and Tige love her is on account of her generosity. But another reason — and it is so with all the men — is that she wears such pretty and stylish frocks.

And why shouldn’t she wear lovely frocks? She is so much on the go and is so very well known that she must always be exquisitely gowned. Well known? Why shouldn’t she be well known? Is not her portrait on lithographs all over the land, proclaiming the fact that Buster Brown Is coming? And there are four companies playing this dramatization of Buster’s pranks. Every child who has seen the play knows that Mary Jane is one of the princi­pal characters, and four clever little actresses have been engaged to play this imi­tation of her.

Millions of children see her picture in the Sunday comic supplement of this newspaper, and her name and picture have been trade-marked, copy­righted and registered. But does she grow proud or become set-up over herself? Not In the least, for she has been used to noto­riety since she has been a baby. During her recent tour of the West she has re­ceived hundreds of letters from little boys and girls who have seen her photographs in the papers, and she has spent many hours In answering these letters.

Innumerable presents have been received by her from admiring friends and strangers. Some of the gifts have been very odd ones: for instance, an inmate in a Western prison who had been made happy once a week by the comic supplement sent her a beautiful belt made of horsehair with a silver clasp, all his own work, with a letter telling of his admiration. One Western millionaire sent a gorgeous doll on Christmas to her hotel, thanking her for the pleasure she had given his little girls. A rich Californian presented her with a ring made of gold from his mine and containing two beautiful diamonds, while another miner presented her with a cross and chain from his mine.

So many dolls did Mary Jane receive that a special trunk had to be bought to carry the collection, which also included a stuffed effigy of Tige, a large stuffed monkey and two Teddy Bears. They did not receive the attention from her that they deserved, however, for she was so busily engaged in answering the scores of letters that daily came to her. And in one of the largest and best-known restaurants in Denver her picture adorns the wall above one of the tables, that is known as the Mary Jane table.

What an interesting lot of experiences she has had for one little girl! And it has made her very happy to know there are so many kind and loving people In the world. Mary Jane is a champion of animals. A driver with a whip excites her indigna­tion; a homeless dog or cat always excites
her pity and always receives a caress from her. Among the many letters she receives are frequent appeals for aid, and most of these have been granted. Should she not be happy? Has she not had Buster and Tige for friends? The birds sing, the flowers bloom, the sun shines, and do these things not make her happy? She has two dogs and three cats and until recently she possessed a horse with the distinguished name of Beaconsfield, which she presented to Mr. Albert Bigelow Paine.

Although this little lady has been much abroad and has seen most of the interesting sights of Europe, she prefers her own country. The painted desert of Arizona and New Mexico, the mountains of Colo­rado and the orange country of California are more fascinating than the snow-clad Alps or the historic Rhine.

Mary Jane feels keenly the responsibil­ity of being Buster’s side partner and play­mate. She realizes that Buster is con­stantly in need of new pranks, else his vocation would be gone. She knows that it is necessary for something funny to happen, and things do happen; sometimes only in her imagination, but they must happen. There are those, perhaps, who imagine that Buster’s history is purely and wholly fiction, but Mary Jane can tell them better. Many of the odd experiences portrayed in the pictures have been the plain fabric of truth unembellished by the flounces of imagination. For instance, when Mrs. Brown buys an electric flatiron to use in hotels when on a tour in the West, and appoints Buster and Mary Jane as a committee of two to attach it and put it in working order, one doesn’t have to use much imagination in order to divine what is going to happen. Mary Jane real­izes the possibilities in every situation, so when she and her Buster brother are flying along in their automobile on a Long Island road, and see some pretty little baby pigs, and proceed to purchase one from the farmer, she knows before she reaches home that a pig in an automobile is a silly situa­tion.

Naturally, this little lady would be thus inclined, because she has been reared in an atmosphere where people create. The poet, the composer, the author and play­wright are constantly her companions, and so her imagination has taken a practical turn. Humor is a commodity in her home. And Tige, well, he seems to know what it all means; dogs always do.

Are dogs humorous? Of course they are. They are worth studying and know­ing, but they are democratic. You can’t win a dog’s acquaintance or friendship with a letter of introduction or a ton of credentials. You must like him and he’ll like you. Mary Jane knows this. She caresses every dog and horse she meets, and none has ever failed to respond and look longingly after her as she disappears up the street. She has found that in all countries animals speak the same tongue.

If poor Mary Jane’s mail increases as it has done during the last few months, she feels that some of the letters will have to go unanswered, as it will require more time than she will really be able to conscientiously give to it.

But, alas! Mary Jane is growing. Soon the famous hair ribbon will be put aside, the “cunning” little “Mary Jane haircut” will be no more. The pretty frocks will he worn by less fortunate little girls to whom she will have given them. Many children may feel sorry, but not she, for her ambi­tion is to have long hair and long skirts, and become an artist, so that she may work out her own ideas herself.

[Published in the Sunday magazine section of Hearst newspapers in April 1908]

2 comments on “News of Yore: Mary Jane Outcault Profiled by her Dad

  1. The gold chain you mentioned as being
    given to Mary Jane was from Col.John Singleton who owned the Yellow Aster gold mine in Kern Co. CA.
    I own the chain … inherited from Mary Jane my grandmother.

    PS typing the safety words below is not my suit as I mess up mostly -but will try.

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