His Life and Times (1891-1964)
Page 6
"Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." - James Madison - 1788


In 1930, 3 months before national elections, Crosby began a Skippy strip satirizing Capone as "Spumoni", showing how votes were rigged and bought. The continuity strip ended on Election Day, and showed Skippy forming a "Revolkalutionist" patriotism party with his friends, using the stars and stripes to fight Spumoni's "Jacketeers". The kids painted messages on neighborhood fences with Skippy's bucket of red paint and artist's brush, using the logo "To the Colors", which Spumoni's gang would paint over with a symbol of crossed bones. Skippy gets kidnapped and disappears for months, and returns with the help of a kindly midwestern farmer. Spumoni's politicians don't get elected because of the town's anger at the kidnap. Time magazine wrote an article in 1931, "Crosby vs. Capone" about Crosby's trip to Chicago to speak against Capone and to urge repeal of Prohibition. Although Capone was convicted and imprisoned in 1931 for tax evasion, the crime syndicate's vendetta against Crosby and Skippy had just begun. In 1933, Rosefield Packing Co. Ltd., attempted to register Skippy as a federal trademark for peanut butter, using the same fence theme with Skippy's bucket of red paint and artist's brush, and Crosby's distinctive Skippy lettering on the fence. Skippy, Inc.immediately filed suit in the U.S. Patent Office through Skippy's counsel, Lord, Day & Lord, and prevailed. Rosefield's Chicago lawyer, then under investigation by the Justice Department for a racketeering case in Chicago, advised his client an appeal would be futile, and wrote that a better method was to inform the "criminal division" of Justice (the IRS) should Skippy, Inc. discover Rosefield's Skippy scheme.

In January 1934 there was national publicity about the 7 year Skippy contract Crosby signed with Hearst, "the longest and largest contract in newspaper history". In addition to the comic strip, there were licenses for the Skippy radio program (sponsored by General Mills "Wheaties"), ice cream, candy, bread, toys, dolls, pedal cars, tricycles, wagons, scooters, games, books, children's clothes, crayons, pencil sets, Skippy films, juvenile cups, plates and bowls, figurines, pins, a fan club and many Skippy contests with prizes. Many companies paid for product endorsements by Skippy, and most infringers seeking to hitch a free ride voluntarily withdrew after receiving a cease and desist letter from Crosby's licensing agent or lawyers. The first Skippy comic book was printed in 1934 as a radio program giveaway (500,000). Today, this very rare edition is valued over $10,000 (if mint condition). Percy Crosby was very strict about quality control and merchandising of Skippy, which his licensing agent handled, objecting to excessive commercials by the radio sponsors. The prime time program was cancelled in 1935, apparently due to Crosby's concerns about Skippy being viewed solely as an advertising medium. Franklin Adams, radio's Skippy, made a public appearance at the 1933 and 1934 Chicago World's Fair "Skippy Day", was met by 5,000 young fans and needed a police escort.

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