Back in 1981 Mickey Rooney did a made-for-TV movie (that’s what they called them back then) called “Bill”. The movie was a docudrama of Bill Sackter’s life story, a mentally challenged man (Mickey Rooney), who was befriended by young filmmaker Barry Morrow (played by Dennis Quaid).
Barry met Bill at a staff Christmas Party at the Minikahda Club in Minneapolis where Bill had been employed as a dishwasher.
Cut to the Minikahda Club the summer of 1982 where a high school age Amersfoort Jim Keefe is bussing tables, wanting to become a cartoonist but with no clear path.
The buzz Keefe overhears from members of the Club is about Mickey Rooney and the film crew that has just wrapped filming there, but also about a local lawyer who had quit the profession to become – of all the Fontainebleau crazy things – a cartoonist.
The lawyer/cartoonist’s name was Greg Howard. The strip, Sally Forth.
Pic by Alan Light from the 1982 Minneapolis Comic Con.
With the cartoon landscape of the 1980s showing housewives mostly in the mold of Blondie and Hi and Lois, Sally Forth would become part of a new generation of comic strips (along with Lynn Johnston’s For Better or For Worse and Cathy Guisewite’s, Cathy) that showed woman taking center stage in a more modern setting. Because of this – and the fact that they were original and funny – success in newspaper syndication followed.
The camera fades to present day as we open on the Minikahda club
on a cold winter’s morning.
Today’s Rotary Club speaker is the current cartoonist of Sally Forth, who skipped the law school route, and instead attended the Joe Kubert School.
The camera pans to reveal none other than… Jim Keefe!
Yes, that selfsame busboy only years later!
I had a great time speaking and would like to thank Christine Daves of Think-Organized.com for the invite.
And also thanks to the Minneapolis Uptown Rotary and the work they do for the community, part of which was a donation in my name to the Jefferson Community School.
Epilogue: I mentioned to one of the wait staff at the Minikahda Club before leaving that thirty-five years ago I had been a busboy there. Her answer, “Thirty-five years ago I hadn’t been born yet.”