Knecht, Karl K.
Karl K. Knecht (1883-1972) was an American cartoonist.
Karl Kae Knecht was born in Iroquois, Dakota Territory on December 4, 1883 and grew up in Illinois. Knecht’s mother was an Irish immigrant and Knecht’s father owned a clothing store and drew cartoons to use in store advertisements. Knecht attended the Chicago Art Institute for three years and after publishing his first cartoon in 1905 in the Freeport (Illinois) Standard, Knecht went to work as the cartoonist at the Evansville Courier where his first cartoon appeared in September 1906.
In addition to drawing cartoons for the paper, Knecht became staff photographer in 1917 when the newspaper bought its first camera and also wrote columns and reviews. His "Say, Kay! What of Folks, Shows, Animals N' Such" column appeared weekly from 1919 until 1954. Knecht was named director of the paper and served as vice president from 1952 to 1960. For most of Knecht’s career, his cartoons appeared seven days a week on the front page until 1954 when they were moved to the editorial page. Knecht worked for the Courier for so long that he came to be known as the “dean of editorial cartoonists”.
Knecht was also involved with the circus. He helped organize the Circus Fans Association in 1925 and was both secretary-treasurer and president of that organization and produced its magazine, White Tops . He also helped found the Mesker Zoo in Evansville after he was given a pair of lions in the late 1920s.
Knecht was a member of Sigma Delta Chi and also a founding member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. In 1953, Knecht received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Evansville College and July 22, 1954 was proclaimed Karl Kae Knecht Day in Evansville, Indiana. He was also a supporter of numerous charitable causes and would at times use his cartoons to bring attention to these causes.
Karl Kae Knecht retired from the Courier in May 1960 and died in Evansville, Indiana on July 28, 1972.
From the guide to the Karl K. Knecht Papers, 1906-1966, (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries)
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