Frank Mott, Miss Mizzou, & Mort Walker


IMAGE: An inscribed personal photo of Milton Caniff sent to Dean Frank Mott made it to the front page of the Columbia Missourian on October 10th, 1952. Used with permission of the Columbia Missourian.

In the Miss Mizzou book I tell of how Milton Caniff was invited to speak at MU Journalism Week by MU Dean Frank Mott in 1949. Caniff visited during the conference which eventually led to the creation of Miss Mizzou. If it hadn’t have been for Frank Mott, there would have been no Miss Mizzou.

Recently I was reminded that Caniff wasn’t the only cartoonist who interacted with Frank Mott. Mort Walker, the creator of Beetle Bailey went to school at Mizzou and also had a run in with Mott as a student.

This “run in” took form of an argument that developed when it came to Mott’s attention that Walker had not taken his “History and Principles of Journalism” course and therefore could not graduate from the MU Journalism School. Apparently when the dust had settled, Mott had booted Walker out of the Journalism School. You can hear Mort Walker tell the story in this video.

Everything eventually worked out though. Walker got his degree from MU in 1948 with a BA in humanities and went on to become one of the biggest comic strip success stories of the century. Walker’s expulsion from the Journalism School became a bit of campus legend, but at least in one case the legend was a bit garbled; in 1965, a student writing for the “Williams House Word” suggested Milton Caniff faced “expulsion” from the MU Journalism School, when it was actually Mort Walker.