Creator Of ‘Heathcliff’ Cartoon Dies

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(AP) George Gately, the creator of the “Heathcliff” newspaper comic about the antics of a rotund cat, has died. He was 72.

Gately died Sunday of a heart attack at Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, his brother John Gallagher said. Gately’s real name was George Gately Gallagher.

Gately created his “Heathcliff” cartoon in 1973, predating “Garfield” by five years. It featured the stylish cat, who often wore a black leather jacket and sunglasses. The comic was later turned into an animated TV show.

“He was pretty jolly, very outgoing,” Gallagher said Tuesday.

He had hoped to become a musician, his brother said, but “Heathcliff” became so popular that he was too busy drawing to pursue music full-time.

“He was asked to go to cat shows and the people would have him sign an autograph for their cat,” he said.

He also created the “Hapless Harry” comic in the 1960s.

“Heathcliff,” syndicated by Creators, appears in more than 200 newspapers in the United States.

John Gallagher said his brother had stopped drawing the cartoon character about three years ago. The cartoonist’s nephew, Peter Gallagher, had taken over the job.

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