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SIOUX CITY | Jay “Ding” Darling won two Pulitzer Prizes as an editorial cartoonist, but he got his start as a cub reporter at the Sioux City Journal in 1900.
As his fame grew, he went on to produce 16,000 cartoons, and his efforts helped launch the conservation movement in the United States.
Although he left Sioux City, where the family had moved in 1886, to live in bigger towns, he never lost his affection for Iowa.
According to a documentary released in 2012, "America's Darling: The Story of Jay N. 'Ding' Darling," Darling was assigned by the Journal to cover a trial and told to take a photograph of one of the lawyers. Instead, the guy chased him down the street, swinging his cane.
Undaunted, Darling drew a cartoon of what had happened, and the Journal published it. Although he had drawn since he was a child, that incident launched his career.
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After he married Genevieve "Penny" Pendleton, daughter of Judge Isaac Pendleton, in 1906, he went to work for the Des Moines Register. He moved to New York several times but returned to Des Moines each time. Eventually, his cartoons were syndicated in 150 newspapers around the country.
He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1924 and in 1943.
In addition to the biting political and social commentary evidenced in his cartoons, Darling started the Federal Duck Stamp Program, began the agency that evolved into the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and founded the National Wildlife Federation.
The film, includes recordings of Darling speaking, showcases many of his outrageously stinging cartoons and the gorgeous vistas of nature he loved so much, including the wildlife refuge that bears his name on Sanibel Island, Fla.
And where did Darling get the nickname Ding? He abbreviated his last name, using the first and last three letters to sign his cartoons, “D-ing.” Eventually, he became known as Ding.
He died in Des Moines in 1962 at the age of 85 and is buried with other family members at Logan Park Cemetery in Sioux City.