Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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September 15, 2013

Birthplace of big names

Clifford-creator Norman Bridwell tops the list of Kokomo authors

Kokomo has a ring to it, doesn’t it? Perhaps it’s how the word rolls off the tongue that led to its inclusion in so many artistic endeavors. Kokomo has played a role in numerous scripts, novels, and musical recordings. From its first appearance on the silver screen in a 1917 silent picture to low budget movies filmed in the city, Kokomo has been romanticized and ridiculed in multiple productions.

Not only has Kokomo inspired many movie lines, but it has produced several stars of film, literature and stage. From Misch Kohn, a master printmaker whose work hangs in more than 100 museums, to Strother Martin, who uttered the famous words “What we have here is … failure to communicate” Kokomo has produced talented authors, actors and artists.

The community’s rich history is steeped in culture, inspiring Aretha Franklin to croon about “That first snow in Kokomo,” and Normal Bridwell to create Clifford the Big Red Dog. Last week, the Kokomo Tribune took a look at mentions of Kokomo in movies and music. Today the focus is on books, plays and more famous people.

Norman Bridwell’s tale of a larger than life dog not only earned him the honor of being in the Howard County Hall of Legends, it made him one of Kokomo’s most famous authors.

Born and raised in Kokomo, Bridwell published his popular book "Clifford The Big Red Dog" in 1963.

The 1945 Kokomo High School graduate went on to write hundreds of books centering around the adventures of a dog that grew to be more than 25 feet tall. There are over 44 million copies of his books in print and many of his stories are translated into other languages.

While several Kokomo residents have written books, Bridwell's is the most recognized, said Dave Broman, executive director of the Howard County Historical Society.

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