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In November 1976, a new comic-strip hero made her debut in newspapers around the country. Cathy—an energetic and assertive single career woman with a mocking sense of humor— was clearly a product of the women's liberation movement of the early 1970s. As society's expectations of women were beginning to change, Cathy was the woman caught in the middle, trying to be both strong enough and soft enough, to be both clever and capable at her job and thin and fashionable for her dates. Cathy's witty solutions to her problems have caught the attention of readers for over two decades. At the beginning of the twenty-first century she had appeared in fourteen hundred newspapers around the world, twenty books, and several television (see entry under 1940s—TV and Radio in volume 3) specials.

Cathy's life is a hectic and goofy whirlwind of work, shopping, dating, dieting, and dealing with her well-meaning but irritating parents. The cast of characters surrounding her represents a generous slice of a modern woman's life: Mr. Pinkley, her bewildered boss; her girlfriend Andrea, a feminist wife and mom; Irving, her maddening on-again-off-again boyfriend; and her mom and dad. Cathy is close to her parents and, though they drive her crazy, she always runs to them when she needs a shoulder to lean on. Although her mother dreams of Cathy's wedding day, Cathy remains happily single. However, she did partly fulfill her parent's desire for a grandchild when she got her puppy, Electra.

Cathy creator Cathy Guisewite (1950–) has won a Reuben Award from the National Cartoonists Society (1993) and an Emmy for Best Animated Television Special (1987) for her work on the comic strip. Guisewite and her plucky heroine have more than their first names in common. After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1972, Guisewite got a job in advertising, where she worked until 1977, working her way up to vice president. She began to draw Cathy to express the humor she saw in the contradictions and problems facing young career women. Some have criticized the strip's heroine for being shallow and obsessed with looks and fashion, but Cathy continues to provide a laugh for both men and women caught up in the frantic pace of modern life.

—Tina Gianoulis

For More Information

"Cathy." (accessed March 27, 2002).

"Cathy Lee Guisewite." Current Biography. (Vol. 50, no. 2, February 1989): pp. 21–26.

Lapin, Claudia. "Cathy on Cathy." Savvy (January 1988): pp. 50–54.

Millner, Cork. "How Cartoonist Cathy Guisewite Makes Us Laugh at Life's Little Frustrations." Seventeen (May 1983): pp. 42–44.