Ted was only twenty-three when he traveled from Springfield to New York City looking for his big break. He wrote to his Dartmouth friend Whit Campbell on April 15, 1927, from the Hotel Woodstock, “I have tramped all over this bloody town and been tossed out of Boni & Liveright, Harcourt Brace, Paramount Pictures, Metro Goldwyn, three advertising agencies, Life, Judge and three public conveniences.”
Three short months later, Ted’s first professional sale, a cartoon The Saturday Evening Post purchased for twenty-five dollars and published on July 16, 1927, was all the encouragement he needed to permanently pack his bag and board a train for New York.
Before summer’s end, Ted was sharing a one-room walkup with his Dartmouth buddy John C. Rose. Rose knew “Beef” Vernon, another Dartmouth man who sold advertising for Judge, and brokered an interview for Ted with the editor, Norman Anthony. Recognized in New York for knowing talent when he saw it, Anthony offered Ted the job that jump-started his career.
It was a Judge cartoon in which Ted used Flit bug spray in the punch line that led to a seventeen-year Flit advertising campaign with Standard Oil of New Jersey. Ted’s catchphrase “Quick, Henry, the Flit!” soon entered the American vernacular and Flit sales increased wildly. By the time Ted returned to Dartmouth in the spring of 1928 for a reunion, his celebrity was duly noted by friends and professors.
With the success of his Flit advertising campaign, Ted realized a quick and bright introduction into many of the day’s leading periodicals, with editorial cartoons and advertising illustrations running in Vanity Fair, Life, Redbook, and Liberty magazines.
All information excerpted from: Secrets of the Deep, the Lost, Forgotten, and Hidden Works of Theodor Seuss Geisel and The Cat Behind the Hat