Seymour Reit, a creator of Casper the Friendly Ghost, dies at 83

Monday, December 17th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ Seymour Reit, an author and illustrator who helped create Casper the Friendly Ghost, died Nov. 21. He was 83.

Casper, a young ghost who tries to make friends and does not want to scare people, was depicted in 55 animated shorts, dozens of comic books, a television show and a 1995 movie produced by Steven Spielberg.

The character's origin was disputed by Reit and Casper's illustrator, Joe Oriolo, but according to Reit, he developed the idea for a friendly ghost in a short story in 1940, and Oriolo then drew up a sketch featuring Casper in various poses.

All rights to Casper were sold to Famous Studios at Paramount in the early 1940s for $200, but Reit said he did not mourn what he might have lost in the deal.

Reit was born in New York City on Nov. 11, 1918 _ Armistice Day. He used his artistic talent during World War II working in a camouflage unit. He then served with the Army Air Forces in Europe after D-Day.

After the war, Reit wrote for the comic books ``Archie,'' and ``Little Lulu,'' contributed to Casper shorts, and penned more than 60 humor pieces for Mad magazine.

He also wrote several nonfiction books for adults and more than 80 children's books on subjects ranging from Balto, the hero dog, to the Confederate ironclad the Merrimack.