HAZELOriginal Medium: Magazine cartoons
Appearing in: Saturday Evening Post
First Appeared: 1943
Creator: Ted Key
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Hazel, the domestic servant who more-or-less rules the household, began in 1943, as a recurring character in cartoons Ted Key drew for The Saturday Evening Post. Five years later, when
Marge Buell's Little Lulu left that venue, she moved into the most prestigious cartoon slot in the magazine — the back page. She held that position for more than two decades. In the 1950s, Bantam Books published several paperback collections of Hazel cartoons.
The character became so popular, she was turned into a TV sitcom, produced by Screen Gems. It was a part of NBC's primetime schedule from 1961-65, then switched networks and did the 1965-66 season on CBS. Shirley Booth played the title role, and took home two Emmy Awards for it. On NBC her employers, George and Dorothy Baxter, were played by Don Defore and Whitney Blake. On CBS she worked for a different Baxter family, Steve and Barbara, played by Ray Fulmer and Lynn Borden. Bobby Buntrock played young Harold Baxter throughout.
In 1969, The Saturday Evening Post folded, leaving Hazel homeless. But by that time, her following numbered in the millions. King Features Syndicate picked up the panel that year and has been syndicating it ever since, to newspapers all over the world.
Ted Key's other work includes a couple of screenplays for Disney. He also created the Jay Ward cartoon series "Peabody's Improbable History". And after more than half a century, he's still the creative force behind Hazel.