In 1904, his father left the family, leaving for Ludwig's governess. His mother, Frances, took Ludwig and his brother to her native city of Regensburg. Bemelmans had difficulty in school and hated the German discipline. He was apprenticed to his uncle Hans Bemelmans at a hotel in Austria, but after a fight with a hotel manager was sent to the United States where his father had moved and worked as a jewelry designer.
He spent the next several years working at hotels and restaurants, and in 1917 joined the U.S. Army but was not ordered to Europe because of his German heritage. He did become an officer, however, and rose to second lieutenant. In 1918, he was naturalized as an American citizen.
In the twenties, he tried to become an artist and painter while working at hotels, but had substantial difficulties. His cartoon series "The Thrilling Adventures of the Count Bric a Brac" was dropped from the New York World after six months.
The first Madeline book was published in 1939 and was actually rejected by Viking and published by Simon and Schuster.
In 1953, he felt in love with a small bistro in Paris "La Colombe" in the "Ile de la Cité", bought it, and painted murals. He remained the owner of the place during two years until he sold it to Michel Valette who made it into a famous cabaret.
However, Bemelmans also wrote a number of adult books, including travel and humorous works, and movie scripts for films like Yolanda and the Thief. Spending time in Hollywood, he also became a close friend of Lady Elsie de Wolfe Mendl.
Bemelmans' "Central Park," a mural on the walls of the Carlyle Hotel's Bemelmans Bar in New York City, is his only remaining artwork on display to the public. He also painted the children's dining room in Aristotle Onassis yacht Christina, for the young daughter of the magnate, Christina Onassis.
The girls are cared for by a nun, Miss Clavel. Other characters include Pepito, son of the Spanish Ambassador, who lives next door; Lord Covington (called Cucuface by the girls), owner of the house; and Genevieve, a dog who rescues Madeline from drowning in the second book.
Bemelmans published six Madeline stories in his lifetime, and a seventh was discovered and published posthumously:
Riddle books help students solve riddle of reading.(Learning about Fall with Children's Literature: Cross-Curricular Units Based on the Works of Eric Carle, Robert Kalan, Ludwig Bemelmans, and More)(Brief article)(Book review)
Sep 01, 2006; Stock up on fun riddles and then direct students to craft the riddle books described in Learning about Fall with Children's...