little-known secrets behind the men & women who shaped
good doctor was no doctor at all
By Paul Niemann
Send a link to a friend
[October 04, 2007]
Ted was born in Springfield in 1904. Like the
hometown of "The Simpsons," his home state is irrelevant to this
story. In case you're wondering, though, there are 35 states that
have a Springfield.
His parents were Theodor
and Henrietta Geisel, and he had two sisters. He was known by his
title of doctor, and he was beloved by kids everywhere for his work.
In fact, nearly everyone knew his name, but it wasn't his actual
name. He wasn't a doctor, either.
Ted's mother ran a bakery before she married Ted's father. When
she had trouble getting him to sleep, she would use a certain rhythm
to chant the names of the pies that she had baked. This type
of rhythm stayed with Ted all his life, and it influenced his work
to the point that he would use this rhythm throughout his career.
While a student at Dartmouth College, Ted was the editor of the
school's humor magazine. His father and grandfather were both
brewmasters, but that probably had nothing to do with the fact that
Ted once got in trouble for throwing a drinking party.
As a result, he was forced to resign his post as editor. In order
to continue writing for the magazine, he signed his work with a
disguised identity. He simply dropped his last name and used his
middle name instead, which was also his mother's maiden name.
Ted attended Oxford University to become a professor. When a
fellow American student named Helen Palmer, who was also a writer,
saw some of his drawings, she advised him to give up his idea of
becoming a professor and become an artist instead. He took her
advice, and he also married her. After she died in 1967, Ted would
Ted worked briefly as a cartoonist, and then Standard Oil offered
him a job in their advertising department. When a competitor offered
him a similar position, he made his decision by flipping a coin.
Hmmm, there's a lesson in here somewhere.
[to top of second column]
His first children's book, "And to Think That I Saw It on
Mulberry Street," was rejected at first -- by all 27 publishers that
he pitched it to! Ted went on to publish 44 books from 1957 to 1996,
and several of them have been adapted into films and animated TV
shows. Twenty-four of his books became best-selling children's
Then why did he use the title of doctor in his name? It was
because his dad always wanted a doctor in the family!
His full name was Ted Seuss Geisel. You know him as Dr. Seuss.
Here are a few little-known pieces of trivia about Dr. Seuss you
can use to impress your friends:
Actor Boris Karloff
narrated Dr. Seuss' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." Karloff is
well-known for playing Frankenstein's monster in the 1931 movie
The person who
provides the voice of Tony the Tiger when he says "That's
grrrreat!" also provided the voice to the Dr. Seuss theme song.
His name is Thurl Ravenscroft.
Dr. Seuss -- the
man who wrote 24 best-selling children's books -- never had any
children of his own.
In case you're still wondering where Dr. Seuss was born, he was
from the Springfield in Massachusetts.
[Text copied from file received
from Paul Niemann]
Paul Niemann may be reached at
Copyright Paul Niemann 2007