Current Interest: Orphan Annie and Bro. Warbucks Retiring After 85 Years

The long-running newspaper comic strip Annie is ending after 85 years, with the last cliffhanger installment on Sunday, June 13—if there’s anyone out there who still knows what a newspaper is. Tribune Media Services says it is “taking Annie into the Internet age by pursuing new audiences for her in digital media.”

Bro. Harold Lincoln Gray (1894–1968) created the strip originally as Little Orphan Annie on August 5, 1924, in the New York Daily News and later in the Chicago Tribune. According to the Grand Lodge of British Columbia & Yukon web site, at its height it was syndicated in some 250 newspapers; now it appears in just twenty. While few today would ever think the strip was controversial, at various times, Annie got herself involved with gangsters, vigilantes, pirates, evil labor union socialists, and even a plot involving the bombing of a German U-boat.

As the frame illustrates, Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks was clearly a Freemason, so naturally he would care for an orphan. According to his Wikipedia biography, Oliver Warbucks studied engineering for a few semesters in college, became a successful industrialist, and amassed a fortune of “ten zillion dollars.” In recognition of his service during WW II he was promoted to Lieutenant General. It is thought that Bro. Warbucks was coroneted a 33° Inspector General Honorary by a Supreme Council in “the orient,” though no records exist.

Brother Gray continued to write and draw the comic strip up until his death in 1968. He was a charter member of Lombard Lodge No. 1098 in Lombard, Illinois, in 1923.
—Submitted by Chris Hodapp, 32°,