Bil Keane

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William Aloysius Keane (October 5, 1922 – November 8, 2011) better known as Bil (or, earlier, Bill) Keane [1] was an American cartoonist. His most famous work, The Family Circus debuted in 1960 and was syndicated in over 1,500 newspapers.

Keane was a self-taught artist, and his humour was evident from an early age; he said (probably tongue-in-cheek) that when asked ‘who cracked the Liberty Bell?’ he reposted, ‘not me!’[2] In a 1995 interview with The Associated Press, he called the comics ‘the last frontier of good, wholesome family humor and entertainment….’[3] and his good-natured humor obviously resonated well with a readership who supported him for over 50 years.

Keane married Thelma ‘Thel’ Carne, an Australian in 1948. They lived first in Rosalyn, Pennsylvania, later moving to a home near Phoenix, Arizona. The Keanes eventually had five children, and were married until Thelma’s death in 2008. Keane credited his family as being the inspiration for The Family Circus . Jeff Keane began working on the cartoon with his father in 1981 and has said that he will continue.

Bil Keane died at his home at the age of 89.


  1. Kean’s parents referred to him as ‘Bill’, but, he said, for drawing on his bedroom walls, they knocked the ‘L’ out of him
  2. Life And Times Of Bil What'sisname