Cartoons, Comedy, and Cancer in 1952

Circulating Now from NLM

Circulating Now welcomes Guest Blogger David Cantor. Dr. Cantor has published on the histories of cancer, meat, medical film, and the after-life of Hippocrates, the father of medicine. His most recent book, co-edited with Edmund Ramsden, is Stress, Shock, and Adaptation in the Twentieth Century.

When in 1952 the American Cancer Society (ACS) released the movie Man Alive!, it was trying something new. For the first time an educational short about cancer combined cartoons and comedy. Earlier cancer films had had their comedic moments, and cartoon animation had been used before 1952. But Man Alive!a recent addition to the NLM’s Medical Movies on Webwas the first to mix them both throughout. Clowning and cartoons had come to be a way of controlling cancer.

Part of the reason for this innovation was the audience the ACS hoped to reach. The movie was one of a…

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