George Gately Gallagher, who has died aged 72, was an American cartoonist best know for creating Heathcliff, a strip about a stylish cat, often wearing a leather jacket and sunglasses.
George Gately was born at Queens Village in New York in 1929, and studied art at the Pratt Institute in New York. After graduating, he worked at an advertising agency for eleven years. Seeing the success his brother John Gallagher had as a cartoonist, George Gately decided to give cartooning a try in 1957. Soon he sold his first one-panel gags to various magazines. In 1964, he created his strip 'Hapless Harry', which ran for a few years in several newspapers. George wanted to be a musician, but once his popular comic 'Heathcliff' took off in 1973, he simply had no time to pursue music full-time.
'Heathcliff', about a stylish fat cat with attitude, soon appeared in newspapers all over the world. George Gately was often asked to attend cat shows and give autographs to cats. To keep up with the demand, he recruited Bob Laughlin, and later his brother John to help draw the daily strips and Sunday colour pages. In 1978, his comic character got a rival when Jim Davis created 'Garfield', another cat with a poignant sense of humor, who soon conquered the world. It was still Heathcliff who first appeared as an animated cartoon, in 1980.
George Gately died on September 30, 2001. His comic strip had already been taken over by his nephew Peter.