Mr. Chicago: A Life Well Lived

Although he was not buried in one of Chicago area cemeteries,  you need to meet and celebrate this famous Chicago north side citizen.

He was born about April 1928 and arrived in Chicago in April 1930 as a penniless immigrant. He could not speak English, but yet went on to be a powerful public figure admired by all.

He never ran for office and completely avoided politics and discrimination. He had only one address but never owned a house or drove a car. He was never wealthy, and certainly never a hoarder.

He was however the consummate showman.  Over his lifetime it has been estimated that he performed and entertained some two million people every year, some 100,000,000 during his career. Entertainers, sports figures like Babe Ruth, the music world, and politicians all posed for pictures with him.

Genial, outgoing, treated most everyone equally and with respect. He was a true gentleman, affectionate, honest, smart, fun loving, sometimes sad. He loved people but demanded their respect.

Before you click the “continue reading” try to guess who this great man was. 100 cemetery points if you have guessed correctly, nothing if you have no clue.

His name was Bushman, the legendary lowland gorilla at the Lincoln Park Zoo.bush33 He died in his sleep about 8:30AM on January 1, 1951 of heart failure, specifically myocarditis. He was taken by Park District ambulance to the Field Museum of Natural History where they performed an autopsy.

For weeks, thousands of his admirers passed by his empty cage to pay their respects. The zoo placed a photograph of him in the cage. Petitions were signed to rename a small road between the northbound and southbound sections of Lake Shore Drive, north of the Field Museum. Fans were seeking to have it named “Bushman Connection”, Sadly it never happened and the road disappeared when Lake Shore Drive was rerouted

b42Bushman, who remained unmarried nor had any children,  was survived by his distraught keeper, Edgar Robinson, Zoo directors Marlin Perkins, and successor  Dr. Lester Fisher.

He was never buried in one of our 273 cemeteries, nor was he cremated. He left no will.

The good news is that he is on permanent display at the Field Museum for all of us to continue to pay our respects and admire Mr. Chicago. IMG_6612

IMG_6610                                        Bushman is on the left. The author is the other guy.

3 thoughts on “Mr. Chicago: A Life Well Lived”

  1. Thank you for sharing this article with photos. Love the way it was written. Bushman died two years before I was born. But, I remember seeing him at the Field Museum several times. What an amazing creature. Thanks again.


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