Family Circus creator Bil Keane dies at 89

Parenting is a tough job, and while it’s rewarding for sure, we can all use a little reminder of the parts that make us smile to get us through the long days. Bil Keane, creator of The Family Circus, delivered that. He died on Tuesday at the age of 89.


Parents across the country, observe a moment of silence. The genius behind The Family Circus, Bil Keane, died on Nov. 8, 2011. Keane began bringing light-hearted smiles to families in 1960, when he first published The Family Circus.

Most of us can agree that parenting is the most rewarding job ever — most of the time. Of course, there are days and times when we just shake our heads and wonder how we’re going to make it to bedtime. Keane reminded us of the sweet parts of daily parenting and family life.

While newer parenting humor — like Go the F**k to Sleep (a parody of children’s bedtime books) — sometimes creates controversy, The Family Circus remained simple and clean, changing little in over 50 years

“I don’t have to come up with a ha-ha belly laugh every day,” Mr. Keane told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2003 (via The Washington Post), “but drawings with warmth and love or ones that put a lump in the throat. That’s more important to me than a laugh.”

Clearly, America agreed. In the beginning, 19 newspapers published The Family Circus. Today, it appears in over 1,500 papers, according to The Washington Post. In fact, The Washington Post has a daily readership of 100 million and it carries The Family Circus.

Keane was married for 59 years when he lost his wife, Thelma Carne Keane, in 2008. As a father of five, he was never short on ideas for his comics. As he wrote on his website, “They provided the inspiration for my cartoons; I provided the perspiration.”

He also shared on his website that there are over 14 million Family Circus books in print. It’s safe to say that The Family Circus touched many lives.

Bil Keane will be missed dearly. Jeff Keane, his son, will continue to draw The Family Circus.

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