Saturday, April 21, 2007

Finding Jay Ward

Jay Ward, the joyfully irreverent pioneer of TV animation, has a personal background that is very elusive. Even to long-time friends, co-workers and biographers some aspects of his life have been very tough to nail down. His birth date, September 20, 1920, seems to be well known, but I have found that his accepted birth name is in question.

Having searched through state birth records, I found that there was no Jay Troplong Ward born in California on that date -- or any other date for that matter! There was however, a birth recorded on that date, in the County of San Francisco; the birth of a Joseph W. Cohen, Jr. Interesting, but not necessarily confirmed until it was revealed that the mother's maiden name is Troplong! I think that nails it. His mother was Juanita M. Troplong and he was named for his father, Joseph W. (presumably Ward) Cohen. And apparently there is at least one occurrence of Ward being credited on a show as Joseph W. Cohen.

For those of you keeping track, I also found that at the time of the 1920 census (January 1920) his parents were living in San Francisco at 440 Post Street around the corner from the famous St. Francis Hotel.


Michael Sporn said...

Great detective work. I love it. Years ago, I did the tiniest bit of research and came up empty handed. Fortunately, you were around to get to the heart of the matter. Jay Ward was an entrepeneurial inspiration when I was younger.

Whit said...

Sounds like the mysterious Jay Ward was the Colonel Tom Parker of animation. Start digging into Parker's past and one learns that Tom Parker was not his name, he was never a colonel nor even a United States citizen.

Anonymous said...

I am so surprised that Jay Ward is of Jewish descent!

bgibson135 said...

About like me finding that Stan Lee is Jewish also.