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AutobiographyBiographyArticles Written about Syd
Syd's Life TimelineSyd Hoff aka A. RedfieldVideos
Fiction Short Stories by HoffFamily PhotosObituaries

Syd's Life Timeline & World Events:

1912 - Born in the Bronx, New York

1917- First Red Scare occurs marked by a widespread fear of Bolshevism and anarchism.

1918 - End of WWI

1927 - Syd enters National Academy Design, New York City

1929- Stock Market crash. His father loses 40% of his investments

1930- Syd sells a small “spot” to The New Yorker magazine (his drawing used as filler). 

1930- He joins the local Cartoonists Guild in New York City. 

1931 - His first cartoon with a caption appears in The New Yorker (August). 

1931 - Scottsboro Trial- Syd was passionate about this case about nine young black men, falsely accused of raping two white women on board a train near Scottsboro, Alabama.

1932 - Syd’s ‘Maurice Chevalier’ cartoon in The New Yorker considered a huge success. This solidifies his working relationship with lead publisher, Harold Ross, who declares Syd his ‘Bronx’ correspondent. 

1932 (mid 30s)- Hoff cartoons begin to appear in other national magazines: Liberty, Colliers, College Humor, Judge and the newspaper New York American. 

1930s (mid ‘30s)- Syd attends his first RED meeting. Joins the John Reed Club which supports leftist artists and writers.

1933 - He begins to cartoon for the left-wing publication New Masses under the alias A. Redfield.

1933 - UAG (Unemployed Artist’s Guild) formed to deal with struggling artists needing government support as a result of The Great Depression. It later became known as The Artists Union in 1934, and fought for WPA (Works Project Administration). Meetings were held at the John Reed Club which attracted more artists. 

1934 - Syd meets Dutch (Dora Berman) in the Catskill Mountains. It was love at first sight.

1935 - He attends Camp Unity which is affiliated with CPUSA. Yale Stuart was a lifeguard and became a friend of Syd's. Abe Meeropol (aka Lewis Allan), song-writer and poet, invites Syd to "join the movement.”    
1935 - Syd joins the staff of the Daily Worker and begins work as left-wing cartoonist as he continues to produce mainstream ‘Hoff’ cartoons.   
1935 - The Ruling Clawss (Syd’s first cartoon book) published by Daily Worker. It consists of over 100 cartoons done under Syd’s alias, A. Redfield. 

1935 - Redfield cartoons also appear in Young Communist Review and other left-wing publications including: Champion of Youth and March of Labor. Syd was also the art director for New Pioneer, a magazine for working class children.

1935 - 1937: Syd’s first comic strip Toby the Ambitious appears in Young America magazine (a forerunner of the Weekly Reader created by Stuart Scheftel). The comic appeared  below Ludwig Bemelman’s Silly Willy comic strip.

1935 - Syd visits coal miners in Pittsburgh, PA and gets a first hand view of the oppressive working conditions.

1935 - Ten year anniversary of The New Yorker. Hoff cartoons continue, although College Humor had cut down the number of his cartoons, and Judge went out of business. 

: Spanish Civil War. Some of Syd’s friends fought in that war and never made it home alive. 

1936-39: Syd participates in rallies and fundraisers in NYC to support American troops — The Lincoln Brigade. Events were held at Columbus Circle, the boat docks, and at Carnegie Hall. He also participates in a protest rally to support The Cartoonists Guild’s push to have College Humor increase pay for published cartoons. Syd and others end up in a holding cell at the local police station, which was broadcast on the radio news. (New York Times, June 19, 1936).  

1937 - Syd and Dutch get married.

1939 - They drive across country and spend two months in Hollywood. Syd tries to find work as a gag writer while the HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee) begins their witch hunt investigating alleged disloyalty and subversive activities of those suspected of having Communist ties.

1938/39 - William Randolph Hearst asks Syd to create a comic strip. After several attempts, Tuffy, about a little girl who did funny things, was born in 1939. It was syndicated in over 800 Hearst owned publications for ten years and declared essential for national morale by Hearst during WWII. This keeps Syd out of active military duty. He then joins the Office of War Information to draw propaganda cartoons, which were dropped behind enemy lines. Dutch volunteers for Red Cross. Tuffy appears on the “March of Events” page, alongside columns by Hermann Goring, Hitler’s designated successor. Hearst asks Syd if he was okay with the placement of the cartoon (the pull of two creative worlds for “Hoff” and “Redfield”).

1938 - Syd paints several large murals for Barney Josephson’s famed jazz club, Café Society in Greenwich Village, NY.  Known as the ‘Right’ place for the wrong people, it featured jazz, social satire. This is where Billie Holiday sang her famous song Strange Fruit for the first time.  Syd is now exposed to a new world of entertainment and associations.

1938 - New Masses sponsors a Carnegie Hall event, which was linked to CPUSA. 
1938 - Syd legally changes his last name from Hoffberg to Hoff.

1939 - He writes his first children's book, Mr. His ... a Children’s Story for Anybody, under his alias A. Redfield. Published by the Daily Worker, it appears in two forms — as a small pamphlet and also in New Masses.  

1940 - Redfield cartoons continue to appear in other left-wing publications.  

1940 - Hoff writes his first ‘mainstream’ children's book Muscles and Brains (Dial Press).

1940 - Redfield cartoons begin to taper off.

1941- Carnegie Hall concert hosted by Cafe Society to benefit Musicians Union, Local 802. 

1941 - Syd and Dutch welcome firstborn daughter Susan. 

1942 - Cartoons Against the Axis Exhibit. Syd supports this event, which toured the country supporting the purchase of war bonds. 

1943 - Syd and Dutch welcome two more children, Bonnie and her twin sister Nancy, who only survived eleven weeks.     
1940/50s - Numerous Hoff adult cartoon books and tutorials are published throughout the decade. 

1947 - Television show Tales of Hoff debuts. It’s the first show to have a sponsor (Bristol-Myers - Ipana Toothpaste). Format: Syd does drawings on an easel and has kids sitting by his side. It was short lived, for 18 weeks,  as not many people had televisions in their  home in those days, and other shows were beginning to emerge.

1950s -1960s: Advertising commissions begin to soar for Syd with iconic companies such as: Standard Oil; Chevrolet; Maxwell House Coffee; Arrow Shirts; Eveready Batteries; Rambler; Jell-O; Ralston cereal; Fitch shampoo; SOS pads; Super Pyro Anti Freeze; Charles Antell Shampoo; Ivory Soap and more. 

1951 - Syd participates in a march to ban the “A” bomb. He was next to Corliss Lamont (advocate of civil liberties) and the FBI assumed Syd was an associate after seeing their photo in the New York Times.   

1952 - Syd gives a voluntary statement to the FBI related to his Redfield cartoons and alleged association with CPUSA.  (He was never formally charged).

1958 - Danny and the Dinosaur published by Harper & Row. To date, over 10 million copies sold worldwide, and is currently in print along with other Hoff children’s books. This book launched Syd's career as a prolific children's author.

1958-1978: Laugh it Off cartoon strip created by Hoff. This single frame gag cartoon was syndicated in magazines worldwide through King Features Syndicate, which is owned by  Hearst Corporation.

1967 - Irving and Me published by Harper & Row. Syd’s coming of age story, with no cartoons, is declared one of the top 10 children's books of the year by the New York Times. 

1970s - Syd begins to write short story fiction for Ellery Queen, Alfred Hitchcock, Rogue, Charlie Chan, Mike Shayne, and others.  

1975 - His last New Yorker cartoon appears. 

1970 -1990s: Syd continues to write children’s books and travel the country presenting ‘chalk talks’ to school children and libraries. He also entertains passengers on cruise ships. 

2004 - Syd passes away at the age of 91. Regarded as one of the great humorists of the 20th century, his legacy includes 571 cartoons for The New Yorker, plus countless cartoons for Esquire, Colliers, Saturday Evening Post, and many others.  He wrote/illustrated nearly 125 books: over 70 children’s stories; 13 tutorials on how to cartoon and draw; 15 adult cartoon books; 24 children’s books written by others and illustrated by Hoff, along with countless advertising commissions and fiction short stories. 

2017 - Syd’s beloved children’s classic Danny and the Dinosaur is in production and headed to the big screen! Stay tuned for details.


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