Biography of Comic Strip Advisor Mary Worth Part 1

About the famous comic strip advice giver Mary Worth, history and biography of the character.



Always existing on the edges of other people's lives and coming in at judicious times to offer the advice she is famous for, kindly Mary Worth might seem to have been too busy helping others ("butting in," her enemies would say) to have had time for a life of her own. Not true. The refined matron with her hair pulled back into a neat burn has undergone many changes in her life and has been involved in innumerable firsthand experiences.

The beginning of her life, however, was decidedly conventional. She was born around 1900 in Crawfordsville, Ind., the heart of the Midwest, to carpenter Silas Jackson and his schoolteacher wife Ella, who taught Mary to read at the age of five and instilled in her a lifelong love of good literature. The first girl to edit the town's high school yearbook, Mary went on to Denison University in Granville, O., where she majored in English literature and graduated with honors. A few years later, she married college football star John "Jack" David Worth, who turned out to be a financial wizard. Unfortunately, this minor-league John D. Rockefeller died young, leaving Mary with a comfortable income and a ne'er-do-well son. John David, Jr., known as Slim, was the major disappointment in Mary's life. He was a close-to-unethical, knavish wheeler-dealer, who remained impervious to his mother's good advice.

Then came the Great Depression of the 1930s, and with it, a radical change for Mary. She was brought low by financial reverses, which inevitably changed her personality and appearance. During those hard times, she became earthy, older-looking than she is now, and double-chinned. She was fat in her shapeless polka-dot dress, and her hair straggled carelessly out of its once neat bun. To support herself and her crippled grandson, Dennie--Slim's boy--she was forced to sell apples on the street and was affectionately known by her neighbors--to whom she gave food and grandmotherly advice--as Apple Mary.

In those harsh times, she abandoned her refined ways and was prone to act and speak in a manner that would horrify her now. For instance, she once hit a man over the head with a lamp, and when he asked her why she had done it, she said pungently, "Well, you couldn't keep your big mouth shut by yourself, so I helped you out."

In 1939 she met her biographers, Allen Saunders and Ken Ernst, who have chronicled her many adventures throughout the years. They brought her luck, for in that same year her investments regained their value and her looks improved. Her wrinkles smoothed out, her hair sprang back into place, and she lost a considerable amount of weight. Since then, she has not had many financial worries, though she occasionally supplements her comfortable income by working, particularly for worthy causes. For example, during W.W. II she was instrumental in helping to uncover a Nazi plot, at the same time that she ran a boom-town hotel where she helped several people straighten out their lives.

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