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Marvel Family Inspiration
When Fawcett Publications decided to create their answer to Superman, they gave the job to writer Bill Parker and artist C.C. Beck. Parker handled creating the concept of the character, while Beck came up with the artistic interpretation of the initial cast of characters. Beck generally used familiar movie stars of the time as the physical templates for the new characters.

After the demise of Fawcett Publication's comic book line in 1953 and with the rise of comic book fandom in the early 1960s, former Fawcett comic book writers and artists came forward through interviews to confirm the inspirations for the various Marvel Family characters.
Captain Marvel
Fred MacMurray Captain Marvel from WHIZ COMICS #2 (#1) Captain Marvel's physical inspriation, on the surface, seems the easiest to confirm. Numerous texts claim that the actor Fred MacMurray was the physical inspiration for Captain Marvel. At this point, I can find no dissenting opinion although one text muddies the water by suggesting some incorrect data concerning MacMurray's filmography. It also seems that as MacMurray aged and his face became fuller so did Captain Marvel's.

Captain Marvel himself was based on the actor Fred MacMurray, who was known as a pretty down-to-earth guy.1
— C.C. Beck
...He [Beck] had been working on a magazine about movie stars when the job to design a cast of comic characters was assigned to him.

With the movie job fresh in his mind, he began the task of translating Bill Parker's ideas into graphic form. He chose film star Fred MacMurray as the model of Captain Thunder, giving him the same black, wavy hair; bone structure, and cleft chin.
— Jim Steranko
...He [Captain Marvel] was losing his lean Fred MacMurray look, fleshing out fast in the face, in the gut, in the hips moving onward and outward toward Jack Oakie.3
— Jules Feiffer
Cary Grant
I know it has been said that Captain Marvel was modeled after actor Fred MacMurray. I had lunch one time with Cary Grant. I was talking to him about featuring him in one of our magazines. He said, “Roscoe, you're already doing that! People have told me I look like Captain Marvel!” When you think about it, he did look a little like him. 4
— Roscoe K. Fawcett

The story has been told many times of Beck's patterning Captain Thunder's face after that of popular actor Fred MacMurray.5
— Richard Lupoff
Jack Oakie
The twenty-nine-year old [C.C.] Beck came fresh from a job on a movie mag and possibly inspired by a dream sequence in which the star became a kind of superhero modeled Captain Thunder on Fred MacMurray. Later the face became more rounded and C.C. conceded that Cap had come to look a bit more like Jack Oakie.6
— E. Nelson Bridwell

Modeled after motion picture actor Fred MacMurray, Captain Marvel was really a homeless orphan named Billy Batson who was taken to see the old wizard Shazam. 7
— Maurice Horn
[C.C.] Beck based the Captain's looks on those of Fred MacMurray,one of the more successful comedic leading men of the late 1930s and 1940s.8
— Ron Goulart
At that time, Fred MacMurray was a very popular actor and I used him as the basis for Captain Marvel. He had kind of a slanted forehead, wavy hair, and a big chin.9
— C.C. Beck
Note: E. Nelson Bridwell's suggestion that C.C. Beck had based Captain Marvel's physical appearance on a MacMurray film where Fred had a dream sequence in which his character imagined himself as superhero has been debunked. The film, "No Time for Love," didn't debut until 1943 — a good three years after the Captain made his own debut. This does not debunk that MacMurray was the inspiration for Captain Marvel but rather Beck's source of the inspiration.

Mary Marvel
Judy Garland Mary Marvel by Marc Swayze C.C. Beck and others, have claimed that the actress Judy Garland was the model for Mary Marvel. Mary Marvel's original designer, Marc Swayze, makes no such claim. Mr. Swayze doesn't refute the Garland connection, rather he has never acknowledged it. Instead, he has claimed that the original design was both quick and quickly approved. It is possible, in the refinement of the design that the Judy Garland angle was brought in.

Mary Marvel [was based] on Judy Garland.10
— C.C. Beck

Captain Marvel, Jr.
Tiny Tim Captain Marvel Jr. The only text found is by C.C. Beck who claims the inspiration of the physical look of Freddy Freeman was Charles Dickens's Tiny Tim character from "A Christmas Carol."

Crippled newsboy Freddy Freeman seemed to be more like Dickens's Tiny Tim character... or perhaps like Peter Pan when he flew about as Captain Marvel Junior.11
— C.C. Beck

Dr. Thaddeus Bodog Sivana
Dr. Sivana in WHIZ COMICS #3 There seems to be no doubt that C.C. Beck modeled the Captain Marvel's arch-nemesis, the mad scientist Dr Sivana, on his own neighborhood druggist.

...Beck pictured him as the spittin' image of his local Long Island druggist (whose real name was Horne), complete with horn-rimmed glasses, bald pate and white pharmacist's jacket.12
— Jim Steranko
...and Sivana himself was based on a druggist I had once known.13
— C.C. Beck
The diminutive, hairless and bespectacled mad scientist wore the same sort of white medical jacket as the neighborhood druggist Beck modeled him after.14
— Ron Goulart
Supposedly he [Beck] based Sivana on a druggist he knew — but was there a bit of Beck in the character from the first?15
— E. Nelson Bridwell
Close examination of the early stories will reveal that the face of Dr. Sivana, the long-running villain, was taken from that of Max Schreck, the original Dracula (or Nosferatu) of motion pictures.16
— Richard Lupoff

Beautia Sivana
Betty Grable Beautia Sivana in WHIZ COMICS Dr. Sivana's daughter, Beautia, looks were inspired by the legendary screen actress Betty Grable. There is a suggestion by noted Marvel Family historian that actress Alice Faye may have been the inspiration but we'll have to rely on Beck.

Beautia [was based] on Betty Grable.17
— C.C. Beck
Beautia looked like Betty Grable.18
— C.C. Beck
Alice Faye
And the lovely Beautia may well have been patterned on song-dance-and-love star Alice Faye.19
— Richard Lupoff

Sivana Junior
Danny Kaye Sivana Jr. One of the more interesting revelations from Beck is the notion that the nefarious Sivana Jr (the evil offspring of Dr. Sivana) was based on Danny Kaye. And even even more interesting is that Georgia Sivana must have been modeled on Danny Kaye as a woman.

Sivana Jr. looked pretty much like Danny Kaye.20
— C.C. Beck

Ibis the Invincible
Tyrone Power Ibis the Invincible in WHIZ COMICS #2 The mighty Egyptian magician Ibis the Invincible who was featured in every issue of WHIZ COMICS was based on the actor Tyrone Power.

Also Tyrone Powers [sic] was the basis for Ibis the Invincible.21
— C.C. Beck
Beck used other actors as well. ...Tyrone Power in the guise of Ibis the Invincible.22
— P.C. Hamerlinck

Spy Smasher
Errol Flynn Alan Armstrong (Spy Smasher's alter ego) in WHIZ COMICS #2 The dashing Spy Smasher, scourge of the Axis powers, was inspired by the equally dashing fim star Errol Flynn.

...and Errol Flynn was the model for Spy Smasher.23
— C.C. Beck
Errol Flynn was his model for Spy Smasher.24
— P.C. Hamerlinck

Uncle Marvel
W.C. Fields Uncle Marvel in MARVEL FAMILY #8 There seems to be no doubt that W.C. Fields was the model for Mary Marvel's rascally, but lovable "Uncle" Dudley. However, there is no text that definitvely makes the connection.

And of course there was the wonderfully funny Uncle Marvel with a hilarious face and wry personality that could have been traced directly to comedian W.C. Fields.25
— Richard Lupoff

The Lieutenant Marvels
The Lieutenant Marvels were based on three of Fawcett's staffers.

Fawcett art staff members Paul Peck [Tall Billy], Ed Hamilton [Hill Billy], and Frank Taggart [Fat Billy] were the inspiration for these engaging characters.26
— C.C. Beck

Sterling Morris
Gene Lockhart Sterling Morris in WHIZ COMICS #2 Character actor Gene Lockhart was the physical model for Sterling Morris, owner of radio station WHIZ and Billy Batson's boss.

Sterling Morris [was based] on actor Gene Lockhart.27
— C.C. Beck

  1. C.C. Beck, "The Human Qualities of the Captain Marvel Characters" in Fawcett Companion, ed. P.C. Hamerlinck (Raleigh, NC: TwoMorrows Publishing, 2001), 28-29.
  2. James Steranko, "Shazam!" in The Steranko History of Comics, Vol. 2, ed. James Steranko (Reading, PA: Supergraphics, 1972), 7-21.
  3. Jules Feiffer, The Great Comic Book Heroes. (Seattle: Fantagraphics Books, 2003).
  4. P.C. Hamerlinck, "The Roscoe K. Fawcett Interview." in FCA (Fawcett Collectors of America) 59, ed. P.C. Hamerlinck (1998), 11-15
  5. Richard Lupoff, "Foreword." in The Shazam Archives, Vol. 1. (New York: DC Comics, 1992), 5-7
  6. E. Nelson Bridwell, "Introduction" in Shazam: from the Forties to the Seventies, ed. Bridwell (New York: Harmony Books, 1977), 7-16.
  7. Maurice Horn, "The World Encyclopedia of Comics, (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1976).
  8. Ron Goulart, "The Short (But Happy) Life of Captain Marvel." in Hogan's Alley 3, ed. Rick Marschall (1996), 104-108
  9. P.C. Hamerlinck, "The World's Mightiest Opinions: C.C. Beck Remembered." in FCA (Fawcett Collectors of America) 57, ed. P.C. Hamerlinck (Winter 1997), 4
  10. Beck, "The Human Qualities of the Captain Marvel Characters", 28.
  11. Beck, "The Human Qualities of the Captain Marvel Characters", 29.
  12. Steranko, 12
  13. Tom Heintjes, "C.C. Beck: The Last Extensive Interview With the Chief Artist Behind The Big Red Cheese." in Hogan's Alley 3, ed. Rick Marschall (1996), 95-103
  14. Goulart, 106
  15. Bridwell, 13
  16. Lupoff, 6
  17. Beck, "The Human Qualities of the Captain Marvel Characters", 28.
  18. Heintjes, 102
  19. Lupoff, 6
  20. Heintjes, 102
  21. Heintjes, 102
  22. Hamerlinck, "The World's Mightiest Opinions: C.C. Beck Remembered.", 136
  23. Heintjes, 102
  24. Hamerlinck, "The World's Mightiest Opinions: C.C. Beck Remembered.", 136
  25. Lupoff, 7
  26. Beck, "The Human Qualities of the Captain Marvel Characters", 28.
  27. Heintjes, 102
Fawcett Companion edited by P.C. Hamerlinck The Steranko History of Comics, vol. 2 edited by James Steranko The Great Comic Book Heroes by Jules Feiffer FCA #59
The World Encyclopedia of Comics edited by Maurice Horn Hogan's Alley #3 FCA #57 Shazam! From the Forties to the Seventies