George Gately

George Gately, creator of the “Heathcliff” newspaper comic — later a TV toon — about the antics of a rotund cat, died Sunday Sept. 30 of a heart attack in Ridgewood, N.J.. He was 72.

Gately created “Heathcliff” in 1973 (predating another cartoon cat strip, “Garfield,” by five years). It featured the stylish cat, who often wore a black leather jacket and sunglasses. and was later turned into an animated TV show.

Gately had hoped to become a musician, his brother said, but “Heathcliff” became so popular that he was too busy drawing to pursue music full-time.

He also created the “Hapless Harry” comic in the 1960s.

He stopped drawing the cartoon character about three years ago, and his nephew, Peter Gallagher, took over the job.

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