|Born:||November 27, 1908|
|Died:||Januar 7, 1989|
Life and career
Martha Grocott was born in St. Louis, Missouri on November 27, 1908. She was the only child of Willis Henry Grocott (1873-1933) and Ada McPherson Grocott (1868-1946). Mr Grocott started his taught at the Old Manual Training School, then at McKinley High School before being assigned to Roosevelt High School as instructor in science and mathematics in 1924.
Martha attended Ben Blewett Junior High School in 1920. The first year she became a member of "The Four B's"[footnotes 1] and was elected as one of their officers and served as Citizenship Clerk. In her second year she served as a reporter. In addition she also was associate editor in the staff of the student's year book.
Martha was one of 300 young girls and matrons who disposed more than 35 000 souvenir score cards at the annual Tuberculosis Day in St Louis 1926.
She started working for Scruggs-Vandervoort-Barney and on November 6, 1929 she married William S Walter[footnotes 2]. She remarried Phil Davis on November 5, 1934 and at the peak of her career she was the head fashion artist in Vandervoort's art department.
In 1941 she began to assist her husbond on the Mandrake strips mainly on women's costumes and those of Narda in particular. When Phil Davis was engaged full time in doing illustrations for the Air Force manuals she sometime did the entire strip. In 1948 Phil Davis said: "And now," says Phil, "she's just as good as I am! After the war, she didn't want to leave Mandrake - so now we work together, and each of us can do any part of the job, or finish the work of the other one." In 1963 Phil Davis said that he illustrated the art comprehensively in pencil and then Martha did the rendering (ink).
Phil Davis died of a heart attack at St John's Mercy on December 16, 1964. About that time Mandrake appeared in 253 newspapers and magazines, including 40 outside the US. Martha continued the pencil art for the ongoing dailies and Sundays, with the ink done by a local St. Louis artist. Her last strip was to been seen in 1965, June 5 for the dailies and June 20 for the Sundays.
- Ben Blewett's Best Boosters
- William Sayford Walter Jr. (1906-1985) was the son of William Sayford Walter (1876-1949) and Alice Crilly Walter (1875-1962). He was born in Harrisburg (Pennsylvania) and by 1910 the family had moved to Chicago (Illinois), and by 1929 to St. Louis (Missouri). When he married Martha he was working as a draughtsman (claim engineer) of the Public Service Company. They found their home at 6541 Clemens avenue. After their divorce in 1934 William married Delma Elizabeth DeHaven.
- "Births Recorded", St. Louis Globe-Democrat (St. Louis, Missouri), 18 Dec 1908, p 5
- "Willis Grocutt funeral will be held tomorrow", The St. Louis Star and Times (St. Louis, Missouri), 29 Dec 1933, p 18
- The Junior Life Year Book, Ben Blewett Junior High School, June 1921, p 84 and 87.
- The Junior Life Year Book, Ben Blewett Junior High School, June 1922, p 8 and 67.
- "Fair Maids at Tuberculosis Society's Benefit", The St. Louis Star and Times (St. Louis, Missouri), 12 Jul 1926, p 15
- ancestry.com; Missouri Birth Records; U.S. Federal Census 1910, 1920, 1930 & 1940; Yearbook Ben Blewett Junior High School 1921 & 1922; Yearbook Soldan High School 1925.
- Marguerite Martyn (1939). The Man Who Draws Mandrake, Post-Dispatch (Every Sunday), August 30 1939, 3D
- Dale Bert (1948), Meet Phil Davis, The OPEN ROAD for Boy's, February 1948, 34-36
- Rochelle Ogden J. Editor & Publisher, "Mandrake and Narda Look Like Creators". January 22 1949.
- Marquis A. N., Who's who in the Midwest, 1958, 161
- Willette, Allen. These Top Cartoonists Tell How They Create America’s Favorite Comics. Allied Publications, 1964, 23
- The Bulletin, Volume 21, Missouri Historical Society, 1964, 269
- Lacassin Francis et Tercinet Alain (1964), Pour prendre conge de Phil Davis, Giff.Wiff no 12 1964, 11-16
- "Martha's magic for Mandrake", The Australian Women's Weekly January 20, 1965, 15
- Jostein Hansen. e-mail interview Fred Fredericks, 2007