Worth Blanchard Carnahan was born on January 31, 1896 in Downers Grove, Illinois, where his mother, Mabel Newton Blanchard, was born in 1874. She had returned to her family home in Illinois to give birth to her first child in the comfort of her mother's company. His father, John Worth Carnahan, was born in 1865 in Philadelphia, PA. His parents had married the year before and moved to Washington, D.C., where they lived at 336 C Street North West. There were eventually four children in the family. His younger siblings were Maynard (born in 1900), May Martha (born in 1906), and Andrea Belle (born in 1912).
The father was a wheeler dealer, who was drawn to the power and wealth in our nation's capitol. He promoted a variety of opportunistic schemes that involved land grants, machinery patents, printing companies, mining companies, and pension investments, all of which were addressed from Washington, D.C., with an impressive pretense of governmental authority.
One such scheme involved the United States Army and Navy Historical Association, of which John Worth Carnahan was the President. He professed noble efforts to preserve the records of Civil War Veterans, but on June 10, 1901 he was arrested on a Federal Grand Jury indictment for conspiracy to defraud pensioners by impersonating a Special Examiner of the Government Pension Bureau. Sensational newspaper accounts of his arrest were reported nationwide. These sorts of incidents undoubtedly had some negative emotional impact on the entire Carnahan family.
In 1914 Worth B. Carnahan graduated from high school in Washington, D.C. He was an avid collector of stamps and postal cards. He visited the U.S. Treasury Office of Engraving in Washington D.C. and was inspired to become an engraver. He liked to draw and was interested in a career as a technical draftsman or commercial artist.
In 1916 he worked as a designer in the experimental department of the Wishbone Steel Wheel Company of America at 410-411 Munsey Building in Baltimore, Maryland. He was soon promoted to manager of the department, thanks to the fact that the company was yet another of his father's business ventures.
On November 30, 1918, during the Great War, he was selected for military service in the Army. He was recorded at the time of his recruitment to be tall, slender, with gray eyes and light brown hair. He served in France and was honorably discharged on July 19, 1919.
One month later on August 25, 1919 he traveled to Santo Domingo to work for six months on topographical maps of mining concessions and territories as an Assistant Engineer Draftsman for the American West Indian Company. Although this impressive business name sounds similar to the renowned British East India Company and Dutch East Indian Company, the American West Indian Company was somewhat shadier, as was the Vice President of the company, who also happened to be the artist's father.
In the Spring of 1920 he returned to America and lived with his family in Washington, D.C., where he worked as a commercial illustrator.
In 1924 he married Genevieve Walton Hart. She was born on June 25, 1904 in Atlanta, Georgia. They lived at 732 Euclid Street North West in Washington, D.C. In 1926 their daughter Patricia Carnahan was born.
They moved to New York City and lived in Manhattan, where he worked as an illustrator at an advertising agency operated by Adolphe Barreaux.
In 1929 his daughter Sally Carnahan was born.
On February 2, 1930 during a complicated pregnancy his wife died at the age of twenty-five in a Manhattan hospital. This tragedy brought unbearable grief and hardship to the artist as he struggled to support his two infant daughters during the Great Depression.
One year later on St. Valentines Day February 14, 1931 he married his second wife, Elizabeth Mary Slayden, who was born January 31, 1909 in Waverly, Tennessee. She was a clerk at the Telephone Company.
During the 1930s his illustrations were published in sexy pulp magazines, such as Hot Stories, Joy Stories, Follies, and La Paree. All of these titles were published by Harry Donenfeld under a variety of fake company names with art provided by the Barreaux Art Studio.
In 1937 he wrote and drew a four-page feature about stamp collecting for The Lone Ranger Magazine, which promoted the hobby with colorful descriptions of new issues and topical trends. "Let us help you with your stamp collecting problems. Address, The Lone Ranger Stamp Editor, 480 Lexington Ave., NYC. Problems will be answered in this column or enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope for a personal reply."
In 1939 Worth B. Carnahan worked in comic books at Majestic Studios. This business was also operated by Adolphe Barreaux and was another subdivision of Harry Donenfeld's publishing empire. Worth B. Carnahan's writing and drawing also appeared in DC Comics, Dell, and Harvey, where he was briefly listed as the "publisher" of Champion Comics in 1940.
Oddly enough, at that same time he was listed in the 1940 U.S. Census as a "commercial artist" with an annual income of "zero." He lived with his second wife and two daughters at 550 McLean Avenue in Yonkers, NY, where his widowed seventy-four-year-old father, John Worth Carnahan, also lived with them and also reported an annual income of "zero." The entire family was supported by his wife's salary from the the Telephone Company. These financial circumstances seem irreconcilable with the image of a wealthy publisher. However, his brief title as "publisher" may have been as insubstantial as other "fronts" employed by Harry Donenfeld to disguise his financial involvement, such as Frank Armer, Louis Shade, Adolphe Barreaux, Merle Hersey, and Jack Leibowitz, all of whom were occasionally listed as publishers of somewhat circumspect periodicals produced by Harry Donenfeld.
After 1943 Worth B. Carnahan no longer worked in the comic book industry.
After WWII both of his daughters were full grown, so he and his wife left New York and moved to her home state, Tennessee, where they lived at 1900 Linden Avenue in Nashville.
On July 16, 1946 his father died in Los Angeles, CA.
During the 1950s he began to illustrate Tennessee State Hunting & Fishing Stamps. His designs were popular enough that new stamps were annually commissioned until the mid-1960s.
On October 15, 1971 his wife died at the age of sixty-two in Nashville, TN.
Worth Carnahan died in Nashville, TN, at the age of seventy-seven on June 26, 1973.
© David Saunders 2013