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Martin Branner

Martin Michael Branner (1888 - May 19, 1970), known to his friends as Mike Branner, was a cartoonist who created the popular comic strip Winnie Winkle. He was born in New York, a twin and one of nine children of Bernard Brenner, a Jewish immigrant lacemaker and small-time New York politician. In 1905, Martin Branner was an assistant to two men who booked vaudeville acts. He was a dancer who met Edith Fabbrini (1892–1966) when he was 18 and she was 15. They married a few days after they met, and the couple then entered vaudeville as a dance team. Billed as Martin and Fabbrini, they spent 15 years performing in stock, musical comedy and vaudeville on the Keith Orpheum and Pantages circuits. In Manhattan, Martin and Fabbrini played the Palace Theater the second week it opened, and they often made return engagements. Some of Branner's earliest artwork was published during this period when he did advertising illustrations for Variety. Two shows a day sometimes increased to three and more shows daily, but bookings for the dance team became fewer during and following World War I. Branner served his WWI military duty with the Chemical Warfare Service of the U.S. Army.

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