Mort Walker, the artist and author of the Beetle Bailey comic strip, speaks in 2010 about his decades of work and experiences at his studio in Stamford, Conn. Walker is getting accolades from top military brass and others as he celebrates his 90th birthday on Sept. 3. (Craig Ruttle / AP)
STAMFORD, CONN. — Beetle Bailey was known to be a lazy Army private, but the creator of the popular comic strip is getting accolades from top military brass and others as he celebrates his 90th birthday.
Mort Walker is receiving well wishes from Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Dolly Parton and even Prince Albert II of Monaco. Walker turns 90 on Sept. 3.
“Your contributions to the nation and our military men and women through your comic strip Beetle Bailey are deeply appreciated,” Dempsey wrote. “For more than 60 years you have given each of us something to smile about and a way to escape the everyday stresses of life.”
Walker’s friend, Stewart Jacobson, plans to present Walker with his copy of a “Beetle Bailey” comic book from 1959 when Stewart was 10 and living in the Bronx.
Walker, who works out of his Connecticut home, told The Associated Press in 2010 as the comic strip marked its 60th anniversary that he would continue with his creation until he’s no longer able.
“I don’t know how I’d be retired,” Walker said at the time. “I wake up every day with another idea.”
Beetle and the cast of characters — Sarge and his dog, Otto, Gen. Amos Halftrack, Miss Buxley and others — has more than 200 million readers in 52 countries, said Jacobson, an author and producer who is organizing the celebration.