Bil Keane (1922-2011), the creator of The Family Circus comic strip, brought happiness to an audience of millions from the late twentieth century to today through daily and weekly syndication of his humorous single frame cartoon. It has appeared in approximately 1,400 newspapers. In addition to this, the US Army veteran published 14 million copies of his books and also wrote the screenplays for several television movies based on the Family Circus strip.
Bil Keane’s appreciation of young children was illustrated through his one-frame cartoons, captions, and lovable characters, which he based on experiences common to families everywhere, including his own.
A graduate of Catholic schools, a distinct element of his humor was the integration of religion as a normal and positive part of family life. An article about his outlook on faith is here: https://belief.net/com.
Read more about this major cartoonist in an Arizona-centered resource here: https://www.historicalleague.org/historymakers/bil-keane.
An opportunity for a sight-see that honors Keane can be seen in Paradise Valley, Arizona, at the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. Before your visit, read about it in USA Today.
We visited the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park a couple of years ago and loved it. Easily accessed from the freeway, it is a perfect road trip stop, especially for young children. At the same time, the park has something for every family age group. There are playgrounds, a train ride, a merry-go-round, model trains, and train museums full of amazing history. We picked up lunch at the snack bar and ate outside in the shade of the Family Circle Pavilion.
More Paradise Valley Connections
Paradise Valley is a suburb of Phoenix located approximately nine miles southwest of the city. It has a population of approximately 14,000 residents. Historically, it has been home to several major celebrities, including authors Erma Bombeck and Clive Cussler. It was also the home of Barbara Park, the author of the children’s Junie B. Jones series.
Humor writer Erma Bombeck, who sometimes worked with Bil Keane, lived with her family in a large elevated custom-built compound, in the style of a Mexican villa, overlooking Scottsdale. It is not open to the public.
Clive Cussler had a home in Paradise Valley until his death in 2020. It is not open to the public. Read more about Clive Cussler, whose automotive museum is part of our Colorado Author Adventures Trail, here: https://authoradventures.org/trails/by-state/colorado/clive-cussler.
Musicians Alice Cooper and Glen Campbell, and boxer Muhammed Ali each had homes in Paradise Valley, as well.
This is the first stop on our Arizona Author Adventures Trail.
Rebecca Blake Beech, Patricia Smart