“The University of Missouri, approached me to do a sculpture of Beetle Bailey for the campus, since I was a graduate,” Mort Walker explained in his autobiography.
“I had seen a sculpture by Gutzon Borglum (the Mount Rushmore creator) of Lincoln seated on a bench with space beside him. I had watched kids climb up to sit with Lincoln and get their pictures taken. So I adapted the idea and designed Beetle sitting in a booth at the Shack with room beside him.”
“We financed the sculpture by selling two-inch sections for people to have their initials ‘carved’ in the bronze for $250 a section. My son Neal did the model in our garage and the casting was done in Bridgeport, Connecticut.”
The unveiling took place during Homecoming on October 23, 1992, which coincided with Mort’s appearance as the William Francis English Scholar-in-Residence. There was a parade that ended at the sculpture. Speeches were made, pictures were taken, and it became one of the most photographed spots on campus.
Dave Hornaday, Mort’s high school and college buddy who was the inspiration for Beetle Bailey, posed with his bronze counterpart.
The statue was relocated to a spot outside the Reynolds Alumni building on June 4, 1999 that was near the original location of The Shack.
– Brian Walker