As Dr. Seuss approached the end of his life, the child's author told his wife that she would have to take care of the Hat Cat, the Lorax, the Grinch, and all the beloved characters he created.
It was a mission that Audrey Geisel embraced for more than a quarter of a century. As superintendent of Dr. Seuss's prolific and lucrative literary heritage, she carefully guarded the capricious works of lesser-known writer and illustrator like Theodor Geisel and expanded Seuss's legacy. She has promoted a highly lucrative multimedia brand from books and movies to theme park attractions and the Broadway show. Seussical.
Audrey Geisel, 97, died on Wednesday at her home in the La Jolla section of San Diego, children's books at Random House announced.
Geisel, who founded Dr. Seuss Enterprises, said she took seriously the responsibility her husband left when he died in 1991.
"You keep a firm grip as if they really were your kids," Geisel told The Associated Press in 1998. "I do not want the Cat in a bad part of town, so to speak."
Firm grip on the empire
But she went far beyond maintaining strong control over the empire. She expanded widely beyond what her husband cared to do by creating the stories of his 47 children.
And, oh, the places she went with her.
More than 10 million Dr. Seuss books are sold each year and new work is being launched, such as last spring. Dr. Seuss's First 100 Words, According to Random House.
The 2000 live-action film version How the Grinch Stole ChristmasStarring Jim Carrey, was a box office hit. But Audrey Geisel and critics belittled the 2003 live adaptation of The cat in the hat who starred Mike Myers Austin Powers fame.
"I never saw Austin PowersBut I knew, "Yes, baby!" and I did not want to "Yeah, baby!" in everything, "she told the PA in 2004.
Geisel is credited as executive producer of the animated film The Grinch, Which was released last month and hit Benedict Cumberbatch to give voice to the title character.
A survey conducted by AP-NORC earlier this month put The Grinch just behind It's a wonderful life. of favorite vacation movies or television. He did not say whether it was the Carrey version or the 1966 animated classic produced by Chuck Jones and narrated by Boris Karloff.
Movies have been profitable with the recent Grinch production gaining $ 245 million in the US, according to Comscore. Animated movie versions of The Lorax raised US $ 214 million and Horton and the Who's World made $ 154 million.
While Geisel kept a tight rein on productions and merchandising, some of those efforts may have deviated from the spirit of Seuss, said Philip Nel, an English professor at Kansas State University who wrote Dr. Seuss: American Icon.
He was afraid of children to some extent.– Audrey Geisel told the AP about her late husband, Dr. Seuss
A bunch of books, for example, that uses Cat in the Hat as a conventional educator deviates from the character's rebellious roots, Nel said. Another book entitled Seuss-isms for Success Seuss quotes out of context to apply to business situations.
"There were great things too," Nel said. "The animated Horton movie was actually done cleverly and understood the universe of Seuss very well."
Geisel was a Chicago native and a former nursing student at Indiana University.
Your license plate said GRINCH
She and Theodor Geisel, who was 17 years older, were married to other people when they started a case in the 1960s. Their first wife, Helen, took her own life.
Audrey Geisel sent the two daughters she had with her first husband to boarding school after the Geisels were married in 1968. The couple did not have children together – Seuss did not like children very much, she said.
"He was afraid of children to some extent," Audrey Geisel told the AP.
Geisel said she understood the gravity of what she was doing when her husband died, but was surprised at the work that was overseeing the business and philanthropy of the Dr. Seuss Foundation.
He worked around La Jolla in a Cadillac with a sign that read: GRINCH. And she appeared at events celebrated by her late husband.
In 2002, Geisel helped reveal Seuss' bronze sculptures and some of his most beloved characters at the Seuss Memorial in his hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts. The works were created by his daughter, Lark Gray Dimond-Cates.
When Audrey Geisel revealed the sculpture of her late husband sitting at her desk, her pale blue eyes filled with tears as she leaned over and kissed her.
Despite whatever anxiety her husband might have around children, she wanted the children to crawl in robust jobs.
"I wish certain parts of it would really shine," she said, "because they've been rubbed so dirty by dirty hands."
In addition to being protective and promoter of Seuss, she also influenced her work.
When Seuss was writing the book that became The Lorax, he had a blockage and she suggested they take a trip to get loose, Nel said. They traveled to Kenya, where workers cutting acacias had an idea.
"He thought:" They can not cut my trees from Dr. Seuss – which he renamed truffles – and invented the Lorax to protect them, "Nel said.