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Memorable Manitobans: Charles Gustav “Charlie” Thorson (1890-1966)

Film animator, cartoonist, author.

Born at Winnipeg on 29 August 1890, son of Stefan Thorarinssson (Thorson) and Sigridur Thorarinsdottir, brother of Joseph Thorarinn Thorson, he married Rannveig Sigridur “Ranka” Swanson (1895-1916) on 11 October 1914 and they had a son, Karl Thorson (1914-1917). On 19 May 1922, he married Ada Albina Teslock (?-?) and they had two sons: Karl “Charlie” Thorson (1923-1923) and Stephen Thorson (1925-?). The couple separated in 1928 and divorced in 1931. During this time, he worked as an illustrator for the Eaton’s catalogues. He moved to Hollywood, California in 1935 as a Disney Studios character designer. He has been credited with the creation of Snow White, based on a Winnipeg waitress he had met in the 1920s. He also worked at Warner Brothers, and is credited there with the creation of Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. In the 1940s he returned to Winnipeg where he created and drew the cartoon character Punkinhead, featured for many years in childrens’ booklets produced by Eaton’s. He retired to Vancouver, British Columbia in 1956 and died there on 7 August 1966. A collection of his artwork is held at the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections.

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Thorson Cottage (Fourth Avenue, Gimli)

Review: Gene Walz, Cartoon Charlie: The Life and Art of Animation Pioneer Charles Thorson by Marilyn Baker
Manitoba History, Number 37, Spring / Summer 1999

Events in Manitoba History: Elmer the Safety Elephant

Cartoon Charlie by Gene Walz (1998).

Sources:

1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.

Birth, marriage, and death registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

Death registrations, British Columbia Vital Statistics.

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

Charlie Thorson Fonds, University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 25 April 2020

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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