More weirdness from my closets:
I bought this from a friend of a friend, Len Corneto, in 1990. Len was and is an authority on silent films, in particular his favorite actress from the period, Mabel Normand. For years he collected posters, stills, and all sorts of other stuff while doing research on Mabel for a book. However, he had major life changes and simply wanted to divest himself of everything he had concerning her; since he knew I was a cartoonist/animation person he offered me two small framed drawings Mabel had received as gifts: one from Pat Sullivan("Felix the Cat"'s owner/producer), and this charming little doodle by Billy DeBeck.
De Beck was a hugely popular newspaper cartoonist whose biggest hit was "Barney Google". In that series was the horse named Sparkplug shown here. Who knows under what circumstances DeBeck met Mabel(or if he even met her in person), but she treasured this enough to save it when she'd lost a lot of her things from formerly flush times. It was in a trunk of hers when she died of tuberculosis in 1930.
DeBeck's comic strip was made into animated cartoons several times, first in the 1930s, but this gift drawing from DeBeck to the beautiful comedienne must have been much earlier, perhaps around 1920 or so. That's his signature under the drawing of "Mabel".
comic strip, Mabel Normand, Sennett, cartoon