As Dr. Seuss approaches the end of her life, the children's author told her wife that she should look after the cat in Hat, Lorax, Grinch, and all the beloved characters he created.
It was a mission, Audrey Geisel embraced for more than a quarter of a century. As Supervisor of Dr. Seuss's productive and lucrative literary property carefully monitored the scary works of the author and illustrator less known as Theodor Geisel and extended the Seuss legacy. She promoted a highly profitable multimedia brand, from books and movies to theme parks and the Broadway show Seussical.
Audrey Geisel, 97, died Wednesday in her home at the La Jolla San Diego Department, Random House Children announced.
Geisel, who founded Dr. Seuss Enterprises said she took the responsibility her husband left her when he died in 1991.
"You keep a firm check as if they were really your children," Geisel told The Associated Press in 1998. "I don't want the cat in a bad part of town, so to speak."
Tight grip on the empire
But she went far beyond keeping a tight grip on the empire. She broadly expanded it beyond what her husband used to do while making their 47 children's stories.
And oh, the places she went with it.
More than 10 million Dr. Seuss books sell every year and new works come out as spring's spring Dr. Seuss first 100 words, According to Random House.
2000 live action movie version of How Grinch Stole Christmas, Starring Jim Carrey, was a box office smash. But Audrey Geisel and critics despised the live-action adaptation from 2003 The cat in the hat that star Mike Myers Austin Powers fame.
"I never saw Austin Powers, But I knew & # 39; yes, baby! & # 39; and I wouldn't have & # 39; yes, baby! & # 39; at all, "she told AP in 2004.
Geisel is credited as executive producer of the animated film GrinchWho was released last month and dropped Benedict Cumberbatch to vote the title character.
A vote made by AP-NORC earlier this month set Grinch just behind It is a wonderful life of preferred holiday movies or televisions. It did not indicate whether it was the Carrey version or the animated 1966 classic produced by Chuck Jones and told by Boris Karloff.
The films have been lucrative with the latest Grinch Production earns $ 245 million at the box office, according to Comscore. Animated movie versions of Loraxen raked in $ 214 million and Horton Hears one who made $ 154 million.
While Geisel has remained close to productions and merchandising, some of these efforts may have deviated from the Seuss spirit, says Philip Nel, an English professor at Kansas State University who wrote Dr. Seuss: American icon.
He was afraid of children to a degree.– Audrey Geisel told AP about his late husband, Dr. Seuss
A group of books, for example, using the cat in the hat as a traditional teacher from the character's rebellious roots, Nel said. Another book titled Seuss isms for Success takes Seuss's quotes out of context to apply to business situations.
"There have also been some nice things," Nel said. "The animated Horton movie was really thoughtful and understood the Seuss universe really well."
Geisel was a native of Chicago and a former nurse at Indiana University.
Her license plate reads GRINCH
She and Theodor Geisel, who were 17 years old, were both married to other people when they started an affair in the 1960s. His first wife, Helen, took her own life.
Audrey Geisel sent the two daughters she had with her first husband to boarding school after Geisels married in 1968. The couple had no children together – Seuss was not particularly fond of children, she said.
"He was afraid of children to a degree," said Audrey Geisel to the AP.
Geisel said she understood the gravity of what she was obliged to do when her husband died, but she was surprised at how much work it was to monitor Dr. Seuss Foundation's business and philanthropy.
She geared around La Jolla in a Cadillac with a license plate reading: GRINCH. And she appeared at events that celebrated her late husband.
In 2002, Geisel helped to uncover bronze sculptures by Seuss and some of his most beloved characters at The Seuss Memorial in his hometown of Springfield, Mass. The works were created by his daughter, Lark Gray Dimond-Cates.
When Audrey Geisel revealed the sculpture of her late husband sitting at his desk, her bright blue eyes bent with tears as she bent down and kissed it.
Despite any anxiety that her husband might have had about children, she wanted children to crawl on the robust works.
"I want some parts of it to be really shiny," she said, "because they have been rubbed so many times with some scary hands."
Besides being a Seuss & # 39; patron and promoter, she has also influenced her work.
When Seuss wrote the book that was Loraxen, He got the author's block and she suggested taking a trip to get unstuck, Nel said. They traveled to Kenya, where workers cut down acacia trees triggered an idea.
"He thought," they can't cut down on my Dr. Seuss trees "- as he renamed truffle trees – and invented Lorax to protect them," said Nel.