Top 10 Facts About Dr. Seuss That Will Ruin Your Childhood

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Top 10 Facts About Dr. Seuss That Will Ruin Your Childhood

VOICE OVER: Emily - WatchMojo WRITTEN BY: Savannah Sher
These are the facts about Dr. Seuss that will ruin your childhood. For this list, we'll be looking at shocking details about the life of Theodor Seuss "Ted" Geisel AKA Dr. Seuss. Our countdown includes he wasn't a doctor, the Grinch was based on him, he made war propaganda, and more!
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The more that you watch, the more things you will know*. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Facts About Dr. Seuss That Will Ruin Your Childhood.

For this list, we’ll be looking at shocking details about the life of Theodor Seuss "Ted" Geisel AKA Dr. Seuss.

#10: He Wasn't a Doctor


Most people aren’t familiar with Dr. Seuss’s real name: Theodor Seuss "Ted" Geisel. When he was a college student at Dartmouth, he began using “Seuss” as a pen name, and eventually added the “Dr.” to it despite having no medical background. In fact, his second wife, Audrey, allegedly thought he was a proper doctor when she met him! In 1956 however, Dartmouth did grant the writer an honorary doctorate, so technically he did become a doctor in the end. We just hope no one ever asked him to diagnose their symptoms!

#9: He Didn’t Seem to Like Kids


Despite the fact that he will go down in history as one of the most prolific authors of children’s books, Dr. Seuss didn’t have children of his own. Some sources say that he and his first wife, Helen Palmer, were unable to have children. But Geisel also made a few public statements over the years that made it seem as though kids weren’t for him. He famously said, of children, "You have 'em; I'll entertain 'em." His second wife, Audrey, also stated that he was always very happy without children.

#8: He Won an Academy Award for War Propaganda


It isn’t widely known that, around the time of the Second World War, Dr. Seuss, along with his wife, Helen, wrote a documentary called “Design for Death”, which was released in 1947. It was based on a military training film about Japanese culture that he also wrote called “Our Job in Japan”. Though at the time it may have been considered to actually be sympathetic to the Japanese, in retrospect it’s quite clearly pro-war propaganda. “Design for Death” went on to win the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

#7: He Was Fired for Drinking


Not all college students meet the legal drinking age in the United States, but obviously many of them break the rules. Ted Geisel got in trouble for drinking while he was studying at Dartmouth, but not for the reasons you’d think. You see, he was going to college during Prohibition, when drinking alcohol was illegal. So when he was caught having gin with some friends in his dorm, the Dean asked that he step down from all extracurriculars, including his job as editor in chief of the humor magazine the “Jack-O-Lantern”. However, it was by using the pen name “Seuss” - as previously mentioned - that was he was able to keep working on the magazine undiscovered!

#6: The Grinch Was Based on Him


“How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” is perhaps Dr. Seuss’s best loved work, having been adapted many times and becoming a holiday classic. Considering the message told in it, you’d assume that Seuss himself was a holiday sentimentalist, but in fact the opposite is true. It turns out that the Grinch was based on the writer himself! He says that he got inspired when he was brushing his teeth the day after Christmas. In the book, the Grinch mentions he has been putting up with this for 53 years, which just so happens to have been Dr. Seuss’s age when he wrote it! He even got himself a vanity plate for his car that read “GRINCH”.

#5: His First Book Was Called "Boners"


Now before your mind goes too far into the gutter, let’s recall that the word “boner” has more than one definition and doesn’t necessarily have to do with the male anatomy. Another definition is a frivolous error. Dr. Seuss’s first ever published book, which came out in 1931, was “Boners”, a collection of stories written for children that landed itself on the New York Times Bestseller List. Not only that, but it spawned a follow-up titled “More Boners”. We can’t make this stuff up! Can you believe this is what kicked off his successful publishing career?

#4: He Published Adult Content


Before we get off the subject, Dr. Seuss did actually write some pretty racy adult content. His 1939 book “The Seven Lady Godivas” was about a group of sisters who never wore clothes because "they were simply themselves and chose not to disguise it." The book was a colossal failure and Seuss blamed himself, saying that he tried to make the women sexy but wasn’t able to pull it off. Geisel also contributed a couple of cartoons to a book called “The Bedroom Companion or A Cold Night’s Entertainment,” which were also pretty suggestive.

#3: He Made War Propaganda


We already talked about Geisel’s Oscar win for his war documentary, but before that he was involved in producing some other pro-war content as well. At the beginning of the war, he started to pen political cartoons for a New York City newspaper called “PM”. Some of the work he produced at the time was controversial, and in retrospect would be considered propaganda. While he derided racism in many of the images he created, there was at least one instance of him drawing racist depictions of the Japanese people and supporting Japanese internment camps.

#2: His Earliest Cartoons Were Racist


Before joining the war effort, Ted Geisel had a job in advertising, where he did work for a company called Standard Oil of New Jersey and their product Flit, a bug spray. Unfortunately however, many of the cartoons that he created for their ads now seem incredibly racist, featuring images of black and Arab people done in a stereotypical way. One of his cartoons from this time period even includes the N word. Considering that later in life he created children’s books that were seemingly opposed to the idea of racism, we have to presume he changed his ways.

#1: His Unfaithfulness Led to His Wife’s Death


While we’ve talked a lot about Dr. Seuss’s career before he became a renowned creator of children’s books, we haven’t touched much on his personal life. But in fact, that’s where some of the darkest demons from his past lie. He was married to Helen Palmer for decades, but she was in ill health for many years, including having cancer. During this time, Geisel had an affair with Audrey Stone Dimond, which contributed to Helen deciding to end her life. In her suicide note, she addresses him asking what happened to them and asking him to remember the good times. He went on to marry Audrey, who he stayed with until his death.
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