Jefferson Machamer: Gags and Gals

Jefferson Machamer (1900-1960) was an illustrator and cartoonist who specialized in depicting (and gently satirizing) glamorous women. Originally from Nebraska, he worked briefly for the Kansas City Star, and then moved up to the humor magazine Judge in 1922, which gave him a national profile. Then came a number of syndicated comic strips and regular gag features in newspapers and magazines: Petting Patty (1928-1930), Gags and Gals (1932-1938), Nifties (1937), Simple Sylvia (1937), Hollywood Husband (after 1940), The Baffles (after 1940), and Today’s Laugh (1948-60). His earlier work usually featured fashionable, gorgeous females accompanied by schmucky, nebbishy men, and has often been compared to Russell Patterson. His later work was more in the cheesecake line, scantilly clad dames in one panel items more in the vein of Bill Ward, published in places like the Humorama line of pin-up mags.

We may or may not have done a post on Machamer otherwise, but what seals the deal is that from 1936 through 1938, he wrote and starred in a series of 8 live action comedy shorts for Educational Pictures, directed by Al Christie. These were Gags and Gals (1936), Amuse Yourself (1936), Fun’s Fun (1937), Comic Artist’s Home Life (1937), Silly Night (1937), Koo Koo Korrespondence Skool (1937), Wanna Be a Model? (1938), and Cute Crime (1938). In 1934 he married B movie actress Pauline Moore, who’d appeared in some of his shorts. The premise of these little time fillers was usually an excuse to parade a bunch of models and chorus girls before Machamer was auditioning them or instructing them in some way. Gags and Gals is on Youtube at present, it plays like the sort of sketches Hugh Hefner would later appear in from time to time.

For more on the history of comedy film shorts please read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube,