The man, the myth the legend; this is Dr. Seuss. Known for writing some of the most popular children’s books of all-time, Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss had an accomplished life. The man who wrote the beloved books of our childhood was undoubtedly ahead of his time. His success didn’t happen overnight; he went through several plights. Now, we shine a light on what most may not have known about the self-proclaimed doctor.
Was He Really A Doctor?
Surprise, Dr. Seuss wasn’t a real doctor. He may have been surgical with the way he stitched together nursery rhymes, but he had no doctorate to show for it. He only gained an honorary doctorate once his alma Mater Dartmouth gave it to him in 1956.
Do you want to know how he got the name? He didn’t call himself that for no reason. Dr. Seuss added the ‘Dr.’ part due to his father always wanting him to have a career in the medical field.
Seuss Didn’t See Eye-to-eye With Kids
Dr. Seuss’ widow Audrey once said that Seuss was afraid of children. She said he would ask, “What might they do next? What might they ask next?” She added, “He couldn’t just sit down on the floor and play with them.” That’s an unusual reaction to the audience he caters to.
In some cases, they say opposites attract. Perhaps his discomfort with children is attributed to his beautiful writing for them. Seuss is also quoted saying, “You have ‘em, I’ll amuse ‘em.”
A Bet Created Green Eggs and Ham
Back in 1960, Dr. Seuss had an editor named Bennett Cerf. Competition often lives in the workplace, so Cerf bet Seuss that he couldn’t write a book containing only 50 words.
The resulting product was Green Eggs and Ham; one of the most classic books he has ever written. It’s safe to say we know who won this bet. If Cerf were smart, he would have challenged Seuss more often to see what else he can produce.
When Making Up Words Pays Off
Writers create different combinations of sentences all the time. They also figure out different techniques on how to make words flow together. One thing they aren’t all that known for is creating new words. Dr. Seuss made a word people use every day.
Seuss’ influence is more profound than you might think. In his book If I Ran the Zoo published back in 1950, Seuss recorded the first usage of the word “nerd.” Now you know who to thank whenever someone calls you that.
If At First You Don’t Succeed…
The used to be widely popular movie rental store Blockbuster turned down the chance of buying Netflix before they blew up. A newspaper fired Walt Disney for “lacking creativity.” Look at both of them now. The same model of success holds true with Dr. Seuss.
Seuss’ first book And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street didn’t get accepted by 27 publishers. He was close to burning the book. However, one publisher took it in 1937. The moral here is not to give up.
Seuss Had To Find A Way To Make Money
Life is hard, and we have to make money to support ourselves. For Seuss, he had to take care of not only his self but his wife too. That was hard during the Great Depression so what did he do?
Dr. Seuss gathered money by drawing cartoons for advertisements. He garnered a name for himself with the pictures he drew for an insect-killing substance called Flit. He coined the phrase “Quick, Henry, the Flit!” He also drew for NBC, General Electric and many more.
Yertle The Turtle Was About…
It took some relentless probing, but Dr. Seuss finally admitted who Yertle the Turtle was about. Yertle was a direct representation of a man they call Hitler. The greedy turtle was a ruler of the pond but wanted more. He asked the turtles to stack up so that he can tower over the pond and survey the land better.
The crazy aspect about the book is what the publishers had a problem with. In the end, the turtle at the bottom lets out a burp, and the stack gets set free after Yertle falls. A burp had never happened in a children’s book, so they were concerned about that.
Seuss Made Horton About Japan
Dr. Seuss often used his books to speak about the social unrest in the world. Like we just discovered in the previous slide about Hitler, Horton Hears a Who wasn’t merely about an elephant hearing noises.
This book was an allegory about the problems post-war Japan. More specifically, how America treated Japan. The argument was that the country needed help after WWII from a bigger nation. He wrote this book after a trip to Hiroshima. He also dedicated it to a friend from Japan. Up next, Seuss played an interesting part in WWII.
Posthumous Books Are Still Coming Out
Twenty years after his death, a brand new Dr. Seuss book has been scheduled for release. Random House Children’s Books made the announcement Thursday, revealing the book is about, “creating and experiencing art.” The new book follows a horse who takes young students around an art museum, teaching them about them the different artists and their works.
The press release for the book praises it for supporting artistic expression, “Artists and non-artists alike will appreciate the timeless theme in Dr. Seuss’ Horse Museum that there is no one right way to interpret the beauty we encounter every day.”
Propaganda Cartoons Were His Thing At One Point
Not only did Dr. Seuss draw advertisement cartoons, but he also let his art dabble in political affairs. He joined the army during WWII and was the commander of the Animation Department of the First Motion Picture Unit. His responsibility was to make war propaganda cartoons.
He had a list of other duties as well. Seuss was in charge of writing promotional films for the troops, and he developed a series of training films for the soldiers. Seuss was busy, but did you know he wasn’t always the man you know?
Seuss Was Not Always His Name
Dr. Seuss’ mother’s maiden name is Seuss. However, he didn’t use it until he reached college and for an interesting reason. One year, Seuss got caught with alcohol in his dorm room, and the school magazine asked him to step down.
To keep writing, he turned to Seuss. He used Seuss as a pen name that just so happens to be his real name. And a bonus fact, it was never meant to rhyme with goose. Seuss’ original pronunciation sounds more like voice, but he eventually gave in to the popular articulation of the name.
He Has A Star On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame
In 2004, Geisel became star No. 2,249 in front of a crowd of about 100 people. His widow, Audrey, spoke briefly and said that if he was able to live longer, he would’ve agreed to have more of his 45 books turned into movies.
Getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is a huge honor. Even though Seuss has left us, his memory lives on forever, cemented permanently by the star in Hollywood. His star in the heavens is pretty bright as well.
He Was A Part Of The Propaganda Machine
As World War II came, Seuss made his way into the army, but not with a gun, but with a pen. He actually found himself working next to Marvel’s Stan Lee sketching up pamphlets that warned soldiers about the dangers of catching venereal diseases abroad.
Seuss also worked with Chuck Jones, who is the director behind the Looney Tunes. He was a crucial part of a team making propaganda videos for soldiers. Writing children’s book must have seemed easy in comparison!
His First Book Wasn’t Kid Friendly
Seuss published his first book in 1931 and it opened to rave reviews. The New York Times called it “hilarious,” and the news wrote about the craze for Seuss’s new book. Unfortunately, we can’t repeat the title here.
The book was full of mistakes made by kids. The book wasn’t for kids since it was a little more raunchy for the time, but the publication was so successful, he had to make sequels of it. Hey, everyone has to start somewhere!
His Publishers Kept Him In Check
By the time that Seuss wrote Hop On Pop, his editors, he believed, would publish anything he wrote. It’s almost like the whole Ron Burgundy teleprompter scene in the movie Anchorman.
Seuss decided that he’d test this theory out and slipped a family-unfriendly line into his manuscript. “I always cut whole words apart, Con Stan Tin O Ple, Tim Buk Too, Con Tra Cep Tive, Kan Ga Roo,” was slipped into the book. The editors caught the fact that he tried to get people to say “contraceptive” and cut it from the final draft.
One Of His Wives Really Thought He Was A Doctor
Audrey, Seuss’ last wife, didn’t even know he wasn’t a doctor. She taught nursing at Indiana University and doctors were a very understood title at the time.
She said, “I was being ushered down this line of about a dozen M.D. doctors and I came to Ted (Theodore) and they said, ‘And this is our very own dear Dr. Seuss,’ it was such a setup.” He didn’t say anything to her the first time they met.
He Won Two Oscars
It might surprise you to know that he ended up winning two Oscars for two very different projects. His first Oscar was in 1947 for the war propaganda film, Design for Death, which he co-wrote with his first wife Helen.
His second Academy Award was a few years later in 1951 with Gerald McBoing-Boing, which was an animated short film which told the story of a boy who could only speak through sound effects instead of the spoken word.
He Won Emmy Awards, Too!
Honestly, what couldn’t Dr. Seuss do? The celebrated author and Oscar winner also won two Emmys, which he earned in 1977 and 1982. The first was given for Halloween Is Grinch Night and the second was for The Grinch Grinches The Cat In The Hat.
Needless to say, it seems like the word ‘grinch’ followed him around and led to the most success. The Grinch has been remade multiple times, including most recently in a CGI movie where the character was voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch.
The Lorax Caused A Major Controversy
The book The Lorax is widely recognized as Dr. Seuss’s take on environmentalism and how humans are destroying nature. Groups within the logging community weren’t very happy with this work, and even put out their own version called The Truax, which was from the logging point of view.
The Lorax used to contain the line “I hear things are just as bad up in Lake Erie” but it was taken out after the Ohio Sea Grant Program cleaned up the conditions of the lake.
Hats Were His Kryptonite
It was widely known that Dr. Seuss LOVED hats. I mean, it’s not hard to make that connection when he basically made the long red striped top hat famous with his characters in The Cat in the Hat.
He had a secret closet filled with hundreds of them. He would go into the closet if he was having writer’s block. Some stressed writers like candles, soothing music, or alone time — he just needed to look at a hat.