William J. McClanahan was born December 2, 1907 in Greenville, Texas. He graduated Highland Park High School in 1927, and later studied at Southern Methodist University and the Dallas Art Institute.

McClanahan began his newspaper career as a sportswriter at the Dallas Morning News, and in the 1930s was a sports-reporter for other local news outlets.

McClanahan enlisted in the Army Air Corps during World War II, attaining the rank of captain; and remained in the Air Force Reserve until retirement in 1967 as a lieutenant colonel. After being discharged in 1946, he returned to the Dallas Morning News and to write, edit and draw cartoons.

McClanahan died in Dallas on September 7, 1981.

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