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1920-10 Whiz Bang
1946-04 Mary Marvel
1930-04 Battle Stories
1952-03 Whiz Comics
1934-01 Battle Stories
1951-09 Crime Clinic
1932-07 Mod. Mechanics
1953-06 Worlds Of Fear
1931-02 Startling Det.
1952 The Crimson Frame
1935-07 Vice Squad Det.
1968 Womans Day Knitting






















































Wilford "Capt. Billy" Hamilton Fawcett was born on April 29, 1885 in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. His father, John Fawcett, was born in 1849 in Canada. His mother, Maria Nielson, was also born in 1849 in Canada. His parents married in 1879 and three children, John (b,1880), Wilford (b.1885), and Roscoe (b.1886). The father was a general practice Doctor.

In 1888, when Wilford was age three, the family left Canada and moved to America, where they settled in Great Forks, South Dakota. The parents then had four more children, Margaret (b.1888), Maria (b.1889), Clarence (b.1891), and Harvey (b.1893).

The 1900 U.S. Census listed the Fawcett family living on Riverside Park in Great Forks. Wilford Fawcett, age fifteen, was listed as a student in high school.

In June of 1901 he completed the tenth grade and then entered the work force as a mail clerk for the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincey Railroad (C.B.& Q.R.R.).

In June of 1902 at the age of seventeen he quit his job and enlisted in the U.S. Army. He was recorded at the time to have been five-foot-five, with brown eyes and brown hair. His occupation was listed as "clerk." After basic training he was sent to the Philippines.

Four years before his entry into military service, the Spanish-American War had ended on February 4, 1899 with the Treaty of Paris, which surrendered control of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines to American control. Filipino nationalists, led by Emilio Aguinaldo (1869-1964), rejected American colonial rule in preference for independence. They fought the Philippine-American War for three years, in which 200,000 civilians, 20,000 Filipino soldiers and 4,000 Americans died. After the end of that war the U.S. Army remained in the Philippines to fight an ongoing insurrection in remote areas for an additional ten years.

In June of 1906, at the age of twenty-one, Corporal Wilford Fawcett completed his three year tour of duty. Instead of returning home, he chose to re-enlist for a second term. During his second tour of duty in the Philippines he was injured, after which he was honorably discharged at the rank of Sergeant in the summer of 1907. He returned to America and resumed his earlier career as a mail clerk for C.B.& Q.R.R. and was stationed in St. Paul, Minnesota.

On October 29, 1907 Wilford Fawcett married Claire Viva Myers in St. Paul. She was born in 1885 in Iowa. The married couple lived at 1555 Charles Street in St. Paul. They had five children, twins Marion and Wilford, Jr. (b.1908), Roger (b.1909), Gordon (b.1911), and Roscoe (b.1913).

In 1914 Wilford Fawcett left his job at the C.B.& Q.R.R. to become a police reporter for The Minneapolis Tribune.

In 1918 during the Great War, at the age of thirty-three, he again enlisted in the Army. This time he did not serve overseas, but instead taught marksmanship as a gunnery officer to young recruits at Camp Georgia in Virginia. In 1919 he was discharged at the rank of Captain, after which he returned to Minnesota and proudly retained the epithet, "Capt. Billy." Instead of resuming his career in newspapers, he opened a bar called "The Army & Navy Club" in Minneapolis. He was soon forced to close the bar after Prohibition took effect on January 17, 1920 when the Eighteenth Amendment made the sale of alcohol a federal crime.

As the public outcry against the Prohibition grew, Wilford Fawcett decided to launch an anti-Prohibition broadside, as a civilian version of the military newspaper, Stars & Stripes, in which he could mock teetotalers and prudes, and serve the public a heaping helping of "Pedigree Bull." The first issue of Capt. Billy's Whiz Bang was dated October 1919, with offices at 4168 West Broadway Avenue in Robbinsdale, Minnesota.

In 1920 Wilford Fawcett divorced his wife, Claire Viva Myers Fawcett. She retained custody of their five children, but every summer they spent three months with their father. In 1921 he married his second wife, Antoinette Fischer. She was born in 1897 in South Carolina.

In 1922 the digest-sized joke book sold over 300,000 monthly copies. At that point Wilford Fawcett produced a second magazine, True Confessions, which also enjoyed popular nationwide sales. He then added Hollywood Magazine, Screen Play, Mystic Magazine, and the adventure pulp, Triple-X Magazine.

In 1924 Wilford Fawcett served as the manager of the U.S. trap-shooting team at the Paris Olympic Games.

By 1925 he was the head of a million-dollar publishing empire. He purchased 280 acres of property in Brainerd, Minnesota, and built Breezy Point Resort, where he hosted hunting parties for political figures, Hollywood celebrities, sports stars, famous authors, who were entertained by live music from Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman.

In 1926 Fawcett produced additional digest-sized joke books, Smokehouse Monthly, Jim-Jam Jems, and The Calgary Eye-Opener.

The first issue of Modern Mechanics was dated November 1928. Many of the earliest issues contained several serialized sci-fi stories about John Carter Of The Red Planet by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

That same year he added a second pulp magazine, Battle Stories. Artists who illustrated these magazines were Remington Schuyler, Albin Henning, George Rozen, Douglas Rolfe (1895-1968), Stewart Rouse (1902-1973), Norman Saunders, Allen Anderson, and Ralph Carlson.

Four of the most remarkable "Fawceteers" during these formative years were editors Jack Smalley (1901-1984), Ralph Daigh (1907-1986), Al Allard (1904-1994), and Westy Farmer (1903-1981).

1931 Westy Farmer designed Mechanical Package Magazine, a unique periodical that contained parts and instructions for the home-assembly of small devices, such as a steam engine and a telegraphy set.

In 1931 Fawcett Publications left Robbinsdale and moved to 529 Seventh Street South in Minneapolis. At that point the company distributed one-and-a-half-million magazines every month.

After a lawsuit from Popular Mechanics, the magzine Modern Mechanics was retitled "Modern Mechanix" on the August 1932 issue.

In 1932 Wilford Fawcett divorced his second wife, Antoinette Fischer Fawcett.

In 1934 Fawcett Publications produced Romantic Stories, Movie Story Magazine, For Men Only, Radioland, Screen Book, Screen Play, and Screen Life.

On November 12, 1936 Wilford Fawcett married his third wife, Frances Marie Mills Robinson. She was born in 1901 in Canada and had moved to American in 1919. The couple first met in 1924 in Chicago, where she was the Chief Clerk of the American Trap-Shooting Association. She had previously married and divorced Jimmy Robinson, a top-ranked trap-shooter and owner of a Minneapolis billiards hall.

On October 9, 1935 The Minneapolis Times reported that Fawcett Publications was moving its headquarters to the East Coast, with offices in New York City at 67 West 44th Street, and a printing plant in Greenwich Connecticut.

By 1936 sales of Capt. Billy's Whiz Bang had dwindled, so Fawcett ceased publication. That same year they produced Vice Squad Detective, True Police Cases, Startling Detective, Dynamic Detective, and Daring Detective.

During a business trip to Los Angeles in 1940, Wilford "Capt. Billy" Fawcett caught a cold, which irritated his chronic heart condition and led to a fatal heart attack at the age of fifty-five on February 7, 1940.

His five children inherited Fawcett Publications, which had already begun to expand into comic books. Roscoe Fawcett later recalled, "I was responsible for Captain Marvel. I got us into the comic book business. I said, 'Give me a Superman, only have his other identity being a ten or twelve year old boy, rather than a man.' I put Al Allard in charge of coordinating the project with some assistance from editorial director Ralph Daigh" In-house writer, William Parker, and artist, Charles Clarence Beck, invented Captain Marvel, who premiered in Whiz Comics #2 dated February 1940. Successful sales soon led to a full line of Fawcett comics, Captain Marvel Jr., Mary Marvel, The Marvel Family, Captain Midnight, Spy Smasher, Bulletman, Slam-Bang Comics, Master Comics, Minute Man Comics, Ibis The Invincible, Funny Animals, Don Winslow of the Navy, Wow Comics, and Nickel Comics.

On March 9, 1942 during WWII nationwide newspapers reported the Fawcett brothers had all donated blood to bring attention to the Red Cross National Blood Drive.

After WWII Fawcett comics produced Bob Swift Boy Sportsman, Nyoka The Jungle Girl, True Sweetheart Stories, True Stories of Romance, True Confidences, Romantic Story, Romantic Secrets, Negro Romance, Love Memories, Love Mystery, Romantic Western, Cowboy Love, Hopalong Cassidy, Tom Mix, Monte Hale, Bob Steele, Bob Colt, Tex Ritter, Lash LaRue, Rod Cameron, Ken Maynard, Rocky Lane, Western Heroes, Baseball Heroes, Baseball Giants, Don Newcombe, Eddie Stanky, Larry Doby, Phil Rizzuto, Jackie Robinson, Joe Louis Champion of Champions, Suspense Detective, Crime Smasher, Down With Crime, Mike Barnett Man Against Crime, Underworld Crime, Unknown World, This Magazine is Haunted, Beware! Terror Tales, World's Beyond, Worlds of Fear, Strange Stories From Another World, and Captain Video. Artist who drew for these comics included C.C. Beck (1910-1989), Kurt Schaffenberger (1920-2002), Bernard "Bud" Thompson (1905-1980), Chad Grothkopf (1914-2002), Pete Costanza, Jack Binder, Harry Anderson (1911-1972), Harry Fisk, Marc Swayze (1913-2012), Ed Ashe, Carl Pfeufer (1910-1980) and John Francis Jordan, Jr., (1901-1986).

In May of 1946 Fawcett Publications bought a twenty-one-story office building in mid-town Manhattan at 67 West 44th Street, which is next to the famous Algonquin Hotel at 59 West 44th Street.

In 1948 Fawcett began to produce Woman's Day Magazine, and Motion Picture Magazine. At that same time Fawcett Publications sought to reassure a concerned public that comic books did not inspire kids to become juvenile delinquents.

On July 27, 1949 The New York Times reported that Fawcett Publications had sold their building at 67 West 44th Street for two million dollars to the Tishman Realty Company, who renovated the building and added an adjacent twenty-one-story structure, after which Fawcett signed a twenty-one-year lease to occupy 50,000 square feet in the top six floors and penthouse.

In 1950 Fawcett Publications began to produce paperbacks of original material, instead of reprinted hardcover books, under the label Gold Medal Books, which in its first six months sold over nine million paperbacks. The company soon expanded to produce Premier Books, Red Seal, and Crest Paperbacks. Artists who painted Fawcett paperback covers included Baryé Phillips (1924-1969), James Meese (1917-1971), Mitchell Hooks (1923-2013), Louis Glanzman (1922-2013) , Frank Tinsley, John Floherty. Jr. (1907-1977), and Robert McGinnis (b.1926)

In 1952 Fawcett Publications produced Mechanix Illustrated, Cars Magazine, Cavalier, True Magazine - For Today's Man, as well as Today's Woman.

By 1953 the comic book industry was rocked by political scandal, self-censorship, lost readership, and the growing popularity of television. In addition to this trend, Fawcett Comics had sustained a decade-long lawsuit from DC Comics, which claimed their copyright of Superman was infringed upon by Captain Marvel. Fawcett lost the case and finally had to stop producing comic books. The January 1954 issues of The Marvel Family, Funny Animals, Lash LaRue, Rocky Lane, and Tex Ritter, were their final comics.

In 1962 Ralph Daigh, who had been promoted to Chief Executive Officer at Fawcett Publications, hired Ellene Saunders (1922-2006), the wife of Norman Saunders, to work as a copy editor at Woman's Day Magazine. In 1966 the magazine was selling over six million copies. By 1970 Ellen Saunders had been promoted to Chief Executive Editor of Woman's Day Special Interest Magazines, which included annual issues on cooking, knitting, and holiday crafts.

On January 8, 1977 The New York Times reported that CBS had purchased Fawcett Publications for fifty million dollars.

In 1970 Capt. Billy's eldest son, Wilford Fawcett, Jr., died at age sixty-two.

In 1979 Roger Fawcett died at the age of seventy.

In 1993 Gordon Fawcett died at age eighty-one, and the twin sister of Wilford Fawcett, Jr., Marion Fawcett Bagg, who had married Warren A. Bagg (1905-1955), died at age eighty-five.

In 1999 Roscoe Fawcett, the youngest of "Capt. Billy's" five children died at age eighty-six.

                               © David Saunders 2018

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