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Beetle in Bronze

“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.”

The Shack

When Mort Walker attended the University of Missouri in the 1940s, the favorite campus hangout was The Shack. The origins of this restaurant went back to 1921 when Chandler Davis and his family sold sandwiches out of their car across from Jesse Hall.

The Shack was known for its low ceilings, dark interior, piecemeal construction and leaky roof. Students flocked to The Shack to enjoy the famous “Shackburger,” a frosty beverage, and to carve their initials into the wooden interior.

On Campus

The early Beetle Bailey strips were set at Rockview University, which closely resembled Mort Walker’s alma mater, the University of Missouri. Here is an aerial view of the quad at Rockview from a strip dated November 7, 1950.
The University of Missouri campus looks like this today.
The Columns at Francis Quadrangle are all that remain from a fire that destroyed the original Academic Hall on Jan. 9, 1892.


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