Clifford the Big Red Dog’s creator, Norman Bridwell, died on Friday, December 12, at the age of 86 following a fall at his home in Massachusetts.
Norman Bridwell’s loveable character first made an appearance in 1963 and went on to star in more than 40 stories, selling 120 million copies worldwide.
Clifford’s image has gone on to appear on merchandise and in US buildings, including the White House.
Norman Bridwell had completed two more books which are due for release in 2015.
Dick Robinson, president of Norman Bridwell’s long-time publisher Scholastic said: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of our loyal and talented friend whose drawings and stories have inspired all of us and generations of children and their parents.”
The author’s wife of 56 years, Norma, said: “A lot of people were Clifford fans and that makes them Norman fans too.”
She was responsible for naming the character Clifford after her imaginary childhood friend.
Over the decades, the bright red dog featured in a host of stories, including Clifford Goes To Hollywood and Clifford and The Grouchy Neighbors, which became popular bedtime reading for children across the US and beyond.
The dog regularly got into trouble before redeeming himself with a daring rescue or doing a good deed.
Norman Bridwell’s wife said there were parallels between the author and his creation.
“He’s never been able to recognize that. Clifford tries to do the right thing, Norman tries to do right the thing, and he makes a mess of it. But he’s the most lovable grown-up man. He’s just a nice guy.”
Before he found fame with Clifford, Norman Bridwell worked as a commercial artist during the 1950s.
He made numerous attempts to break into children’s publishing, until a New York book editor suggested he created a story around an illustration he had submitted of a child and her oversized dog.
Further rejections followed, until publishers Scholastic saw his creation’s potential – a move which led to lasting success for the company.
In more recent years, the character was animated in a series of cartoons for TV, while a feature film – Clifford’s Big Red Movie – was made in 2004.
Norman Bridwell is survived by his wife, a son and three grandchildren. A small private funeral service will be held along with a more public celebration of the author’s life and work, his family said.
[youtube s3e-6X9R6d8 650]