Ink-Slinger Profiles: Pete Llanuza

Pedro M. “Pete” Llanuza was born in San Francisco, California on October 29, 1882, according to Who’s Who in Chicago (1926). He was the son of Hernandez and Rita, and educated at the public schools. Information on his art training has not been found, and he has not been found in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. Llanuza’s name appeared several times in the Crocker-Langley San Francisco Directory; in 1902 he was a laborer and resided at 223 5th; in 1903 he was a machinist and resided at 226 Shipley; in 1904 he was an artist employed at F. J. Cooper, and resided at 265 1/2 Clementina. He had no listings in the 1905 and 1906 directories.

Who’s Who in Chicago said Llanuza “began work on San Francisco Bulletin, 1906″; that year the earthquake and fire devastated San Francisco, so he “moved to Chicago same yr. and became connected with Chicago Examiner, later editorial cartoonist Chicago Inter-Ocean, sport cartoonist Chicago Record-Herald.” The San Francisco Call (California) noted his brief return on November 18, 1909.

Peter Llanuza, well known sports cartoonist and artist of the Chicago Record-Herald, and formerly a San Francisco newspaperman, is a visitor in San Francisco, and expects to remain in the city for two or three weeks. Llanuza arrived here Tuesday from the east and is staying at 349 Golden Gate avenue.

Llanuza has not been found in the 1910 census. George W. French took over Llanuza’s sports editorial panel on October 30, 1911. Llanuza may have moved back to San Francisco around that time. According to the 1920 census, he was married and had two daughters. The oldest one, Mildred, was 11 years old, so she may have been born in 1908 or 1909. Presumably he had married Cora some time in 1907 or 1908.

Who’s Who in Chicago said Llanuza worked for the San Francisco Chronicle, a Hearst Syndicate newspaper. Once again he was listed in the Crocker-Langley San Francisco Directory; in 1912 the listing included his middle initial, “M”, occupation as artist, and residence at 1242 Jones; in 1913 he was an artist at the Chronicle and lived at 1196 Ellis; in 1914 the listing was “Llanuza Pedro M (Cora) pencil and poster artist, 1005 Market, h 225 Downey”; in 1915 the listing was “Llanuza Pedro M (Cora) artist, 915 Van Ness Av”. In 1913 the Chronicle published his strip, Jack Ofalltrades. A sample of the art can be viewed at Lambiek. The trade journal, The Pacific Printer and Publisher, Volume 14, 1915, mentioned Llanuza’s studio in a profile of another local cartoonist.

Cartoonist Frank Green, the new cartoonist of The Pacific Printer and Publisher, was born in Santa Rosa, Cal., on September 10, 1887, and after graduating from the local schools (when he was a friend of Roy Ripley, the now famous cartoonist, also of Santa Clara, now with the New York Times), he entered Mark Hopkins Art School (now the San Francisco Institute of Art) in 1904. He studied general illustrating and life class work, and received commendations on his ability in three lines.

He left Hopkins at the time of the fire in 1906 and after four years spent in the study of cartooning, illustrating, etc., including a short time on the San Francisco Call, he went to Alaska. There he was engaged by the Alaska Citizen as cartoonist and etcher, and later the New Miner [illegible] his services.

After two and one-half years spent in newspaper work and a study of mining life in the North, he returned to San Francisco, where he was engaged by the celebrated Llanuza Studio on Van Ness avenue. Six months spent with Llanuza doing cartoons, posters and portrait cartooning has brot [sic] him recognition along the line of commercial art in San Francisco….

Llanuza had no listings in the Crocker-Langley San Francisco Directory after 1915, so he may have moved around 1916. Who’s Who in Chicago said Llanuza “returned to Chicago and was with Chicago Tribune“. His portrait of actress Clara Kimball Young can be seen in The Sunday Tribune (Providence, Rhode Island) of May 20, 1917. The Chicago Tribune promoted its newly expanded comics section in several newspapers including the Bugle Mansfield News (Ohio) on May 3, 1919; Llanuza’s strip was mentioned.

Enlarged Comic Section—8 Pages
Starts in Next Sunday’s Chicago Tribune

Beginning tomorrow the Comic Section of The Chicago Sunday Tribune will be enlarged to eight pages. Several new characters will be presented in addition to such old favorites as “Doc Yak” by Sidney Smith, “Mamma’s Angel Child” by Penny Ross, and “Bobby Make-Believe” by Frank King.

You’ll find tomorrow’s issue such new comics as “Mr. Bones” by Everrett Lowry, “Josephus Bugle” by Pete Llanuza and “Harold Teen” by Carl Ed. The enlarged eight-page Comic Section starting in tomorrow’s Chicago Sunday Tribune represents more genuine humor—more costly features—more value!

A short time later, the Philadelphia Inquirer published, on June 28, 1919, Rube Goldberg’s account of training camp for boxers Jack Dempsey and Jess Willard, whose match was a week away; an excerpt involving Llanuza

Pete Llanuza, a cartoonist, who is here making pictures, put on a gymnasium suit and boxed a round with each of the two principals.

Pete is still alive, but he is having a hard job lifting his pencil. Dempsey caught him an accidental clout on the head and Pete got enough ideas for cartoons to last him the rest of his life. I prefer to get my ideas another way.

In the 1920 census, his family lived in Chicago at 5236 Harrison Street. He was a newspaper artist. His youngest daughter, Marion, was four years old and born either in San Francisco or Chicago; she passed away before 1926. Two journals published in 1923, Office Appliances and Quarterly of the National Fire Protection Association, credited Llanuza as a Chicago Herald and Examiner cartoonist. Who’s Who in Chicago said, “now [1926] sport cartoonist Herald and Examiner; art editor and cartoonist Chicago Yacht Club, Chicago Topics, Chicago Night Life. Has caricatured many leaders of America and Europe; his studio regarded as one of the most unique and artistic in Chicago. Mem. No-Jury Soc. of Artists. Protestant. Clubs: Press, Chicago Yacht. Recreations: golf, boxing, yachting, motoring. Home: 10 E. Erie St. Address: Herald and Examiner.” A description of his 1927 book, Aces I Have Known, is here.

According to the Cook County, Illinois Birth Index and the Social Security Death Index, Llanuza’s son, Don Pedro, was born on December 15, 1926. Evidently, the mother was not Cora. In 1930 his son lived with his maternal grandparents, Homer and Elizabeth Norton, in Chicago at 821 North Christiana Avenue. At the time, the Norton household included three of their five children. Their oldest daughter, Virginia, was ten years old in the 1920 census. Presumably Llanuza married her in 1926. He, Cora and Virginia have not been found in the 1930 census.

Llanuza’s heart was taken by Olive Belle Hamon in 1932. The Seattle Daily Times (Washington) published the story of her four suitors on September 18, 1932.

New Faces Complicate Race to Altar with Olive Hamon

The merry-go-round marriage mystery, who will wed Olive Belle Hamon, got dizzier today. Not only did the daughter of the murdered Jake Hamon, famous Oklahoma oil magnate, steal away from her mother to lunch with the young man of her heart’s choice, but a third and then a fourth suitor entered the whirligig race.

As the altar racers entered the stretch they lined up with Forrest C. Cross, 28 years old, still in front with a license to marry the girl; Pedro Llanuza, 52-year-old newspaper cartoonist, who tried vainly to get a license, still intent on marriage; a mysterious Larry, one on a self-confessed three-day drunk because he can’t marry Olive Belle, known to the vaudeville stage as Loma worth, and a Manhattan physician, a hopeful outsider….

…Cross, an ex-Marine, got a license to marry the blond and bejeweled Olive Belle Thursday, and Llanuza tried his best to get another license Friday, only to be balked because he did not have his divorce papers….

…”I still think my little girl ought to marry Mr. Llanuza, although it is true he is very dictatorial—men are always that way,” the mother said, reflectively. During the day she had some telephone conferences with Llanuza.

The cartoonist was still intent on rushing the actress to the altar as soon as his divorce papers arrive from Illinois. Mrs. Worth said that over the week-end she intended to have Llanuza meet Cross so that they could discuss their common interests.

None of the suitors were chosen. If Llanuza really was 52 years old, as reported, then he would have been born in 1880 not 1882, as previously written. Later, Vic Forsythe’s strip, Joe Jinks, was continued by Llanuza from 1933 to 1936. The Meriden Daily Journal (Connecticut) reported, on June 22, 1936, Llanuza’s lawsuit against five Hollywood animated-cartoon companies.

In December 1941, ads appeared in various newspapers, such as the Kokomo Tribune (Indiana), announcing “Chicago’s new morning newspaper, The Chicago Sun“. The ad touted its cartoonists.

Charles E. Werner will be The Sun’s political cartoonist; a Pulitzer Prize winner in 1938—always worth watching.

Jack Lambert, who sculptures his cartoons, and Pedro Llanuza, famous caricaturist, will also be staff contributors.

Llanuza signed his World War II draft card on April 27, 1942. He lived in Chicago at 53 East Superior Street, and named George Dewitt, of the Chicago Sun, as his contact person. Two items stand out, his age, 47, and birth date, October 29, 1894. Why he made himself 12 years younger is not known. Llanuza passed away on March 28, 1943 in Chicago, according to the Cook County, Illinois Death Index. His tragic death was highlighted in the headline and sub-heads of the Chicago Daily Tribune story of March 29.

Street Car and Automobile Collide

4 Killed, 8 Hurt as Auto Crashes into Street Car

Cartoonist and Wife Among Victims

If anyone has access to ProQuest, please help us with details of the Tribune story. According to the Wisconsin Death Index his first wife, Cora, passed away on February 7, 1975. His artistic son, Don, died on December 30, 2006. Regarding Llanuza’s ethnicity, two books offer different claims. He is Italian in The Big Book of Italian-American Culture (HarperPerennial, 1990). Collier’s Encyclopedia with Bibliography and Index, Volume 5 (1984 and 1993) said, “A Mexican, Pete Llanuza, signed on with the Telegram in the mid-1920’s, and many modern cartoonists acknowledge a debt to him. He was more of a caricaturist than most, and knew almost nothing about sports. But he had style, fine drawing ability and originality.”

3 comments on “Ink-Slinger Profiles: Pete Llanuza

  1. From the Chicago Tribune article, Mar. 29, 1943: 4 KILLED, 8 HURT AS AUTO CRASHES INTO STREETCAR Four persons were killed and eight were injured early yesterday in a head-on collision in(sic) North Avenue, just west of California Avenue. Those killed were Pedro Llanuza, 60 years old, 705 North Avenue, a former Chicago newspaper cartoonist, and his wife , about 30, who were struck by the automobile before the collision….Police said the crash probably occured when (Richard) Bilski, (age 24, of 1522 Division St.) , driving west, turned into the streetcar in a futile effort to avoid Llanuza and his wife. (Bilski was also among the dead.)

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