John Ogden Whitney was born on May 1, 1919 in Stoneham, Massachusetts. His father, Ethan Allen Whitney, was born August 20, 1882 in Albion, Michigan. His mother, Alberta Ogden, was born January 28, 1883 in Denver, Colorado. The parents married on April 14, 1910 in Colorado. They had three children, Ethan Allen Whitney, Jr., (b.1912), Helen L. Whitney (b.1914), and John Ogden Whitney (b.1919). The father was an auditor accountant. His work took him to a variety of U.S. cities, to each of which the Whitney family moved. The eldest son was born in Denver, the daughter was born in Albuquerque, and Ogden was born in Massachusetts.
In 1919 the family lived in Denver at 629 East 16th Avenue. The mother was an artist, so wherever they moved, she always enjoyed painting the landscape. She taught basic art techniques to all three of her children.
In 1920 the father joined in partnership with another accountant to form Tuttle, Whitney & Company at 242-248 Central Building at Second Avenue and Fourth Street in Minneapolis, where the Whitney family moved to live at 3818 Chicago Avenue.
In 1922 the father left the partnership and formed Ethan Allen Whitney (Formerly of Tuttle, Whitney & Co,) Certified Public Accountant, at 948 Security Building, on 8370 Atlantic Street in Minneapolis.
On February 24, 1924 the Minneapolis Morning Tribune announced the week's various church services, which included a listing for, "Psycho-Science address by Ethan Allen Whitney at 7:45pm in the Upper Nicollet Recital Hall at 1016 Nicollet Avenue."
In 1928 the father acted as supervising auditor of the Minneapolis Community Fund Drive. He oversaw fifty volunteer bookkeepers to account for fifteen-thousand daily pledges that amounted to over $1,250,000.
On March 11, 1929 the Minneapolis Star reported that the list of new members at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts included Mrs. Alberta Ogden Whitney.
On October 10, 1932, during the worst period of the Great Depression, the father, Ethan Allen Whitney, died unexpectedly at the age of fifty.
In June of 1934 Ogden Whitney completed the Tenth Grade of High School in Minneapolis, after which he left schooling and entered the work force.
In 1935 the Whitney family left Minneapolis and moved to New York City, where they lived together in an apartment in the Bronx at 3502 Hull Avenue. All three children worked to support the widowed mother. The eldest son, Ethan Allen Whitney, Jr., worked as a commercial artist in advertising. The daughter, Helen L. Whitney, was a a secretary at a newspaper, where Ogden Whitney, age seventeen, also found work in the printing shop.
In 1938 the older brother, Ethan Allen Whitney, Jr., married his wife, Marjorie Whitney. She was born in 1916 in Chicago, Illinois, and worked as a typist at the American Surety Company. The married couple moved to a separate apartment at 2725 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx.
In 1939 Ogden Whitney began to draw for comic books. His first work was a six-page story "In The Pit of Dagan" by Gardner Fox in Adventure Comics #42 of September 1939. His work also appeared in A-1 Comics and Big Shot Comics. His most renonwned early work was for Skyman Comics.
In 1940 Alberta Ogden Whitney was fifty-one. She lived in the Bronx, with her daughter, Helen L. Whitney, age twenty-four, and Ogden Whitney, age twenty-two, who described his work at that time as an "illustrator of magazines."
According to the artist's later correspondence with a fan, he joined the Army in January of 1943. He completed basic training and eight weeks of truck-driving school, before he was assigned to Camp Lee in Virginia, where he worked in the same art department with artist Fred Guardineer, illustrating signs and educational pamphlets. In his free time he produced work, which he signed, "Corporal Ogden Whitney," and sent to NYC comic books for publication. He was later stationed in the Philippines and served in the Adjutant General's Department. Ogden Whitney was honorably discharged at the rank of Master Sergeant TEC 3 on January 26, 1946. He returned to NYC and lived with his mother at 45-34 47th Street in Woodside, Queens, NY.
In 1947 Ogden Whitney and his mother left Queens and moved to a large Manhattan apartment at 125 East 62nd Street, after which the older brother and sister-in-law left their apartment in the Bronx and joined them in Manhattan.
Late at night on May 12, 1948 the older brother, Ethan Allen Whitney, Jr., wearing his hat and overcoat, climbed onto the railing of the pedestrian walkway of the 59th Street Queensboro Bridge and jumped into the East River, which is 300 feet below. He was pulled from the water by a passing tugboat, and taken to City Hospital on Welfare Island, where authorities said, "He is making a remarkable recovery from shock. He began to regain consciousness early this morning. The extent of his injury has not yet been determined, but doctors said they believed his back was injured." Reporters contacted his mother, Mrs. Alberta O. Whitney, who refused to discuss the incident, "We live quietly. It was just a little mistake in judgment, I guess." When the police asked him why he did it, he said he was unemployed, had financial difficulties, and had been in poor health. Two days later, on May 14, 1948, Ethan Allen Whitney, Jr., died at the age of thirty-six as a result of internal injuries.
On March 16,1950 the artist's mother, Alberta Ogden Whitney, died at the age of sixty-seven in NYC.
After losing her husband and Mother-in-Law, Mrs. Marjorie Whitney moved to her own apartment at 500 East 84th Street.
On August 6, 1950 The New York Times reported, "Ogden Whitney, artist, has leased a new apartment at 40 Park Avenue and 36th Street in the Murray Hill district." The side-entrance to the building is at 37 East 36th Street.
At that same time Ogden Whitney began to illustrate pulp magazines published by Ziff-Davis. His pen-and-ink story illustrations appeared in Amazing Stories and Mammoth Western.
In 1954 Ogden Whitney joined with Jerry Siegel (1914-1996), the co-creator of Superman, to produce "Ken Winston," a syndicated newspaper comic strip.
In 1958 Ogden Whitney married his wife, Anne Whitney. She was born in 1916 in NYC, and worked as a private secretary in midtown Manhattan. The bride was forty-two and the groom was forty. They had no children.
In 1958 Ogden Whitney created Herbie, a rotund, bespectacled, emotionless superhero.
During the 1960s Ogden Whitney worked for Tower Comics and Marvel Comics. He also tried to find work in the new field of storyboard design for television.
In 1970 the artist's wife, Anne Whitney, died at the age of fifty-four.
Ogden Whitney's last original work appeared in the May 1972 issue of The Two-Gun Kid from Marvel Comics.
In 1973 comic book editor Jerry DeFuccio (1925-2001)tried to visit the artist, but was told by the doorman, "Ogden Whitney does not live here anymore. His wife died and then his condition became extremely irrational. He was finally evicted from the apartment. They took him away on a stretcher to Bellevue."
Ogden Whitney died at the age of fifty-six at Saint Barnabas Psychiatric Hospital at 2021 Grand Concourse in the Bronx on August 13, 1975.
© David Saunders 2017