Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Rose Cecil O’Neill

Born this day in 1874: Rose Cecil O’Neill (1874–1944), magazine illustrator, writer, and businesswoman who created the Kewpies.

O’Neill was a popular magazine illustrator. Her greatest fame, however—and most of her wealth—came from the creation of the enormously popular Kewpies. Kewpies began as illustrations in the Ladies’ Home Journal. In a blaze of merchandizing Kewpies subsequently appeared as items such as figurines, salt and pepper shakers, inkwells, and on fabric, greeting cards, stationery, and, of course, as dolls. Kewpie dolls were first manufactured in 1913 and netted O’Neill royalties of $1.5 million. The wealth from marketing Kewpies allowed O’Neill to indulge in more serious (and much darker) art, including monumental sculpture, painting, and novel and poetry writing.

Various manufacturers have been churning out Kewpie dolls almost continuously since 1913.

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1 comment:

  1. O'Neill was quoted in the 1915 New York Tribune, “I have a thrilling hope that women are going to do something glorious in the arts. It is my passionate conviction. I am always indignant when women are denied creative power in art..."

    O'Neill was a suffragist and utilized the immense popularity of the Kewpies in her work as a suffragist artist for the National Woman Suffrage Association from 1914-1918. Posters, post cards and flyers were designed by O'Neill and many of them included her Kewpie character. She also used her Kewpie characters in stories, that supported the soldiers during WWI, appearing in newspapers across the United States. The Kewpies were involved with philanthropic work such as O'Neill's publication of a booklet for the Tuberculosis Society to promote awareness of methods used to abate the spread of the dreadful disease. The Kewpies were used to bring awareness to the hurtful discrimination of minorities in her stories starting in 1912! And, although O'Neill was sometimes criticized for getting Kewpie involved in politics and social movements, she successfully continued.......

    Thank you for including Rose Cecil O'Neill in your wonderful historic blog for women!! Great Work You Are Doing!!!