Thelma Keane, "Family Circus" Mom, dies

The AP reports that Thelma Keane, the wife of Family Circus cartoonist Bil Keane and the inspiration for that strip’s Thel, or Mommy, character, died yesterday in Phoenix, Arizona. Keane met Thel in Brisbane, Australia during World War II and married in 1948. The Family Circus (changed from The Family Circle for legal reasons) debuted on February 29, 1960, and is based on the Keane family and their five children.

Although I’ll admit I’m among many who find The Family Circus corny, it is occasionally amusing, and is probably going to be around for a long time. So long, Thel. I may think of your comic counterpart as a sperm-burping gutter slut, but you- and she- were probably very nice people- and very attractive, too.

Sorry to hear that. My brother’s finance just lost her mother to Alzheimer’s and it is a tragic way to go, seeing someone you love whittled away before you. Condolances to Bil Keane and family.

I was a big fan of the Dysfunctional Family Circus and was sorry to see it go. It should have been challenged. I’m sure Spinn would have won and it would have set an important precedent on the use of material for parody. But I can also see Keane’s point - this is (to an extent) his family. It was very classy of him to allow the site to continue to the 500th cartoon. It gave the whole thing closure.