Biography: Frederick Burr Opper (1857-1937), best known for his comic strip Happy Hooligan, was called the dean emeritus of comic artists in his New York Times obituary in 1937. His comic characters were featured in newspapers and magazines for 60 years.
Born in Madison, Ohio, to Austrian immigrant parents, he left school to work as a printer's apprentice at the local Madison Gazette, and at 16, moved to New York City where he worked in a store and continued to draw. He studied briefly at Cooper Union, followed by a brief training as pupil and assistant to illustrator Frank Beard.
Opper's first cartoon was published in Wild Oats in 1876, followed by cartoons and illustrations in Scribner’s and St. Nicholas. He worked as illustrator at Frank Leslie's Weekly from 1877 to 1880 and then moved to Puck, where stayed for 18 years, drawing everything from spot illustrations to chromolithograph covers. Opper's other popular strips were Alphonse and Gaston, And Her Name Was Maud, Howsan Lott, and Our Antediluvian Ancestors.
Happy Hooligan first appeared in 1900 in the New York Journal, a Hearst newspaper, when, as his obituary put it, "comic strips were eschewed by all polite people." The strip was syndicated by King Features. Its plot centered on the adventures of a well-meaning hobo. It ran until 1932, when Opper's eyesight failed. Happy Hooligan was the first comic strip adapted to film.
Opper's drew political cartoons on various topics, especially anti-trust issues. He illustrated books for such authors as Mark Twain and Finely Peter Dunne.
Opper married Nellie Barnett in 1881. They had three children, Lawrence, Anna and Sophia.