born May 7, 1886, in San Francisco, CA
died May 19, 1964, in San Francisco, CA
This filmography is sketchy to say the least, especially when it comes to McNamara's involvement in the world of comics. Hopefully, I'll be able to draw a more complete picture of his career before long. If any comics experts out there have additional information to add to this page, feel welcome to email me.
McNamara originated the Us Boys comic strip by 1912 at the latest. He worked for The New York Evening Journal. The strip continued at least until the end of 1928, but I don't have any clear evidence that he worked on it during his time at the Roach studio. He also did a strip called The Sandlot League. He was also known to have done artwork for humorous pins, which were included in cigarette packs. Examples of his work of this type date from the teens through the thirties.
A second McNamara strip appeared briefly during this year entitled Tom McNamara Illustrated Stories.
McNamara entered films as a title writer during this year, apparently beginning his career with the Edison company, for which we know of at least one acting job.
By the end of this year, we find McNamara writing titles for Paramount.
McNamara's tenure with Paramount ended by the early part of this year. After providing titles for at least one Realart film, he wound up at Hal E. Roach Studios, where he was hired as a writer. In this capacity, he was involved with Hal Roach's Rascals by the end of the year, and was probably involved in the very first episode, "Our Gang."
Starting with the second Our Gang film, McNamara shared directorial credits with Robert F. McGowan. In addition to this, he served as a writer and illustrated the title cards. Once in a while, he shared the titles credit with H. M. Walker, but it isn't clear whether this was because of the illustrations, or if McNamara was contributing words to the titles as well. According to the official credits, McGowan and McNamara began to alternate directorial duties during the late summer and early fall, with McNamara getting solo credit for "The Cobbler" and "Boys To Board." The studio payroll summaries indicate that McNamara was the official writer of the series by the beginning of August (earlier summaries don't name names). This credit continued until the week ending November 4th, after which McNamara is not listed again until 1923. However, Camera magazine reveals that he was still directing and writing for the series during the weeks starting Jan. 8 and 15, 1923.
For the week ending March 17th, McNamara's name reappears on the payroll summaries, but this time as an assistant director. Nevertheless, he managed to co-direct "Stage Fright," "July Days" and "Sunday Calm." After the week ending June 2nd, his name disappears from the summaries for good. The distinctive illustrations on the title cards came to an end with "Lodge Night," which was released at the end of July. This film had wrapped at the beginning of March, so the title cards were probably finished by the beginning of June. It seems likely, too, that McNamara had been doing these illustrations even while his name was missing from the summaries between November 1922 and March 1923. Assuming he was still contributing gags at this point, the last film he was probably involved in was "No Noise," which started shooting on June 1st. What's ironic is that Roach extended McNamara's contract early in the year, but obviously this didn't amount to much.
Presumably, McNamara was involved in other films besides the few listed here. In 1925, he wound up working with Mary Pickford, both writing and directing.
Early in the year, McNamara's association with Pickford came to an end.
McNamara signed with R-C Pictures Corporation early in the year and wrote for the short-lived "Secrets Of The Beauty Parlor" series of two-reelers. It appears that the first two episodes were unnumbered, and the Copyright Catalog omits the 'adaptation' credit for the second one, "The Permanent Rave." It's likely that McNamara worked on this one (released Aug. 10th), since he's credited with all of the remaining shorts.
The Us Boys strip lasted at least until December of this year.
McNamara worked on a Sunday comic strip entitled Teddy Jack And Mary, which debuted in 1929 at the latest. He also worked on a second Sunday strip entitled On Our Block, but it isn't clear whether they were concurrent or consecutive.
The Teddy Jack And Mary strip seems to have ended by the end of this year, which may have been the point when McNamara started the On Our Block strip.
During this year, McNamara began working as a writer for RKO, which yielded at least two films.
Presumably, McNamara's association with RKO ended early this year.
By the end of this year, McNamara was involved in the comic book industry, specifically a comic book entitled New Fun which went into release in early 1935. The company he worked for was called National Allied Publications.
The first issue of New Fun (The Big Comic Magazine), had a cover date of February 1935. This was the first comic book to contain original material, that is, material that wasn't simply a reproduction of newspaper comics. Apparently included was a piece by McNamara entitled "After School," though this may not have been until issue number three in April. McNamara was the editor as well as a contributor, but it isn't clear whether this was from the very beginning, or whether he was promoted at some point. In December, New Fun became More Fun at the time when a second comic book by National appeared entitled New Comics. It seems apparent that McNamara was involved with More Fun for quite a few years. Around 1938, National Allied Publications was purchased by Detective Comics Inc., better known as DC Comics. This merger was eventually known as National Comics.
McNamara drew the "Grandpa Peters" humorous fillers for various DC comics during the war. He also illustrated a story entitled "Alix In Follyland" for a National comic book entitled Buzzy, which came out in the winter of 1944. There is some indication that this was the first issue of this comic.
McNamara drew a series entitled "The Gas House Gang," which first appeared in issue 108 of More Fun, which had a cover date of March 1946. He also drew "Silly Willie," which first appeared in issue 10 of All Funny. This had the same cover date.
©Nov. 9, 2007, by Robert Demoss.
2008 updates: 3/18, 7/6, 8/19.
2009 updates: 3/8.