'The last of a special breed'

Renowned cartoonist and painter Frank Interlandi died Feb. 4 of age-related causes in Poway. He was 85.

Frank Interlandi, who lived and worked in Laguna for nearly 50 years, was the last of an internationally known group of local cartoonists that included his late twin brother, Phil Interlandi, Virgil Partch, John Dempsey (Playboy) and Dick Oldden, who drew during the daytime for the New Yorker and danced at night at the Ivy House.

“This group of wits became famous as the West Coast version of the famous Algonquin literary pundits when they began gathering at the White House Bar every afternoon in Laguna,” said daughter Mia Interlandi-Ferreira of Boston.

The post office, where the group daily mailed their cartoons to publications, at that time was near the White House restaurant on South Coast Highway. When the post office moved to Forest Avenue, the group moved with it. They also frequented the Marine Room Tavern.

Frank Interlandi was a syndicated cartoonist for the Los Angeles Times. His work appeared in newspapers around the country and in Europe. Phil Interlandi was a cartoonist for Playboy and for the Laguna News Post.

“I am saddened that people only knew [my father] as a cartoonist,” Interlandi-Ferreira said. “He was a painter in his heart.”

Frank Interlandi was an abstract Impressionist whose works were exhibited at the Festival of Arts for four decades, as well as galleries in Laguna and Los Angeles, Interlandi-Ferreira said.

Arts Commission Chairwoman Pat Kollenda owns one of his paintings.

“It was the first piece of art I bought when we moved to Laguna, and I still love it,” Kollenda said.

Frank Interlandi moved to Laguna Beach shortly after his twin moved here in 1962.

“They were seldom separated after that,” Interlandi-Ferreira said.

Phillip Interlandi died in 2002. He was 78. The twins were born in 1924 in Chicago. Their parents were from Sicily.

They joined the U.S. Army in 1941, according to The Times. Frank Interlandi served as a medic at the Battle of the Bulge. Phil Interlandi was in the infantry and taken prisoner by the Germans.

After the war, Frank Interlandi attended the University of Iowa, where he earned a degree in fine arts and met his former wife, Mitzi, well-known in her own right in Laguna as a singer. They were married in 1955 and divorced in 1997.

Frank Interlandi was pursuing his master’s degree with a minor is philosophy when he was hired by the Des Moines Register to do editorial cartoons.

While at the Des Moines paper, Frank Interlandi received the Sigma Delta Chi award for his editorial cartoon work in 1961, Interlandi-Ferreira said.

The following year he was hired by The Times, where he shared the op-ed page with political cartoonist Paul Conrad in the 1960s and ’70s.

Frank Interlandi is survived by his daughter and her husband, Richard Ferreira; son, Frank Phillip Interlandi, his wife, Carrie, and their two children, Joseph, 4, and Anthony 1, of Poway; and niece Liza Stuart, her husband, Steve, and their son, Caden, of Laguna Beach; and Stuart’s siblings, Carla, Danny and Joe.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Doctors Without Borders.

A celebration of Frank Interlandi’s life will begin at noon today at the gazebo in Heisler Park, chosen by his daughter because the twins held an informal ceremony there when their elder brother, Joe, died.

The celebration will continue at the Marine Room Tavern on Ocean Avenue where Frank Interlandi had his special spot.

“I was sitting there one day when he came in, and the waitress said he might be a little upset,” said friend Richard Hoppe. “So I apologized and he said it was all right — just don’t do it again.”

Marine Room owner and Councilman Kelly Boyd said all will be welcome.

“I am going to miss him sitting in his little corner,” said Boyd. “For the 23 years that I have been here, he was here. He was the last of a special breed.”


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