Cartoonist Leonard Starr Dies at 89

Alan Light
Leonard Starr

He also was the story editor and head writer for 1980s animated series 'Thundercats.'

Leonard Starr, who created the comic strip “Mary Perkins On Stage” and revived the comic strip “Little Orphan Annie,” has died. He was 89.

Starr, who also was the story editor and head writer for 1980s animated series Thundercats, died on June 30.

Best known for “Mary Perkins On Stage,” Starr debuted his comic strip as “On Stage” in 1957. Some newspapers, however, called it “Mary Perkins” after the title character, and it eventually became known as “Mary Perkins On Stage.” It ran from 1957 to 1979, earning the National Cartoonists Society’s comic strip award in 1960 and 1963. Starr also won the National Cartoonists Society’s Reuben award, which recognizes an outstanding cartoonist. “Mary Perkins On Stage,” which follows the life of actress Mary Perkins and her photographer boyfriend Pete Fletcher, was known for its innovative storytelling and broad humor.

“Mary Perkins” ended when Starr took over the comic strip “Little Orphan Annie,” which ran from 1979 to 2000, when Starr retired. The “Annie” comic strip, which struggled to find a cartoonist following the death of creator Harold Gray, regained popularity under Starr and earned the National Cartoonists Society’s comic strip award in 1983 and 1984.

Starr also worked with television producers Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin to develop an animated series about a team of “supercats.” His drawings inspired the cartoon hit Thundercats, about a team of humanoid cats who fight evil. Starr served as the story editor and head writer for the series from 1985 to 1987.

Born in New York on Oct. 28, 1925, Starr attended Manhattan’s High School of Music and Art. He then studied at the Pratt Institute, where he started working on comics. Starr went on to contribute to Timely (now Marvel) Comics, Fawcett Comics and DC Comics, among others.

In 2006, Classic Comics Press reached an agreement with Tribune Media Services to reprint “Mary Perkins On Stage.” The final book, Mary Perkins On Stage Volume 15, will be released at the end of this year.

Starr is survived by his wife, Bobbi.

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