Cartoonist Scrawls Love Note On Nixon’s Trousers Leg
PASSAIC, N.J. (AP) _ A newspaper cartoonist was fired because he scribbled a love note on Richard Nixon’s pants in a drawing published on the front page. Publisher Austin Drukker fired cartoonist Frank Gillooly, 50, saying the prank could damage the reputation of the paper, The Herald-News of Passaic.
Gillooly scribbled ″I love Lori″ on Nixon’s left leg in a cartoon published in Wednesday’s editions of the newspaper. It was a note to his fiance, Lori Melignano, 26.
″I think it was immature, it affects the credibility of our newspaper, its seriousness, and for that reason we fired him,″ said Drukker. ″This is not a toy. It is a newspaper. I think the fact that he was serious or not serious has no bearing.″
But Gillooly said many of his political cartoons over the past five years have contained the names of children of newspaper employees, and ″nobody said anything before.″ This was the first message in a drawing, he said.
The cartoon accompanied a story about a stray dog that made its way onto Nixon’s Saddle River estate.
Former First Lady Pat Nixon had asked Secret Service agents to keep the brown and white dog until the owner was found. But the agents sent the mutt to a pound because it kept barking at night.
The cartoon shows the former president turning thumbs down on the dog with the inscription: ″Nixon makes it perfectly clear: No strays here 3/8″
Gillooly said he and Ms. Melignano, a graduate student at William Paterson College, were engaged last month.
He said he joined the newspaper five years ago and was named graphics editor last year. He drew about two cartoons a week, mostly about local and county politics.
Gillooly said he has been teaching a film animation course at William Paterson College for three years and has no immediate plans for the future.
″I never expected things would go to this,″ said Gillooly. ″I am surprised at people’s reaction.″
Meanwhile, animal shelter manager Larry Wilke said the dog was picked up last Monday at the Nixon estate and will be put up for adoption on Tuesday if the owner does not come forward.
He described the dog as a 3-year-old male with a ″pretty good disposition.″
John Taylor, a spokesman for Nixon, could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.