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Edmund Valtman, 90; Pulitzer-Winning Editorial Cartoonist

January 16, 2005|Valerie Finholm | Hartford Courant

Edmund S. Valtman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist for the Hartford Times, died Wednes- day at a retirement home in Bloomfield, Conn. He was 90.

Valtman won the Pulitzer in 1962 for his work the year before.

That work was exemplified by a cartoon published Aug. 31, 1961, showing Fidel Castro leading a beleaguered, shackled and barefoot man labeled "Cuba." He tells another man, in a broken-down cart labeled "Brazil": "What you need, man, is a revolution like mine!"

Colleagues on Friday remembered Valtman for his wit and his ability to capture the essence of the people he drew.

"Ed was a great caricaturist," said Don Noel, head of the Hartford Times editorial department for many years while Valtman worked there. "I enjoyed watching him develop the signature features that he would use with dozens of prominent people in Connecticut.

"He would sketch 18 noses until he got it just right," Noel said. "He did [former Connecticut] Gov. Ella Grasso beautifully. He caught her beautifully. The baggy eyes."

In four decades of cartooning, Valtman's targets ranged from local politicians to presidents to international leaders.

"He always made his point, but it usually had a sense of humor. So people who didn't agree usually enjoyed it and were stimulated by it," Noel said.

In a 1992 article in the Hartford Courant, Valtman said much of his commentary focused on world communism because of his upbringing in -- and subsequent escape from -- Estonia, then part of the Soviet Union.

The article said Valtman drew his first cartoon at age 15, after watching his older brother draw and seeing the designs that his father, a baker, created on cakes and cookies. By the 1940s, Valtman was drawing cartoons for two Estonian newspapers.

In 1949 he immigrated to New Jersey, and in 1951 he moved to Hartford.

Valtman got his ideas from discussing issues in the newsroom and from reading the daily newspapers, the Courant article said.

"You might read a little thing, and then it gives you an idea right away," he said. "And then I would just start doodling on paper. It's really hard to explain what happens. Suddenly there are certain thoughts or associations that bring it all together."

Courant cartoonist Bob Englehart said of Valtman: "He was a talent and an inspiration to me. I respected and enjoyed his work."

Valtman's wife, Helmi, died in 2002.

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