A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry forthcoming—B.P. (4/28)
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Entry from January 04, 2011
“There oughta be a law!”

"There Oughta Be a Law!” was a newspaper cartoon by Al Fagaly and Harry Shorten that ran from 1946 until artist Fagaly’s death in 1963. “There oughta be a law!” became a popular catchphrase against any slight to any individual—the activity should be outlawed.

The saying “There oughta be a law!”—with “oughta” for “ought to”—has been cited in print since at least 1920, long before the newspaper cartoon first began.


Wikipedia: Jimmy Hatlo
James Cecil Hatlo (1897-1963), better known as Jimmy Hatlo, was an American cartoonist who created in 1929 the long-running comic strip and gag panel They’ll Do It Every Time, which he wrote and drew until his death in 1963. Hatlo’s other strip, Little Iodine, was adapted into a feature-length movie in 1946.
(...)
Popularity
Hatlo’s success also attracted imitators, and a rival syndicate launched a clone cartoon by Harry Shorten and Al Fagaly titled “There Oughta Be A Law.”

Google Books
Smoke and Steel
By Carl Sandburg
New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace and Howe
1920
Pg. 45:
There oughta be a law everybody wear mittens.

21 December 1920, Rockford (IL) Republic, pg. 4, col. 3:
“There Oughts Be a Law.”

5 January 1926, Trenton (NJ) Evening Times, ‘The Daily Dozen” by William R. Clark, pg. 16, col. 1:
Senator Hotsy: “Seems to me there oughta be a law against these here new radio entertainers.”

28 February 1926, Dallas (TX) Morning News, sec. 7, pg. 8:
All Together—“There Oughta Be a Law!”
That’s the Deer Peepul’s Wail
Whenever Anything or Anybody
Rubs Their Fur the Wrong Way

(Speech in a cartoon—ed.)
“THERE OUGHT TO BE A LAW PROHIBITING MEN LIKE BILL JONES FROM LIVING.”

Google Books
March 1932, The Rotarian, pg. 23, col. 1:
The “there oughta be a law” complex stalks over the land.

Governments can do much, and are. But it must be evident that the depression will not lift until individuals, corporations, and communities cease relying on their messianic hope of government relief long enough to generate some trust in their own latent powers.

Google News Archive
14 July 1933, Sarasota (FL) Herald, “Romain’ the Town” with Tom Tarpon, pg. 4, col. 3:
There oughta be a law!...How many times this exclamation has been made...And really there should be a law.

Google News Archive
27 September 1946, Pittsburgh (PA) Post-Gazette, “Meet the Artists,” Magazine, pg. 1, col. 3:
WHILE most comic artists have a collaborator or two, Harry Shorten and Al Fagaly have hundreds of thousands of idea men who help them turn out “There Oughta Be a Law!”

OCLC WorldCat record
There oughta be a law!
Author: Al Fagaly; Harry Shorten; Danny Kaye
Publisher: Hasbrouck Heights, N.J. : Graphic Publications, ©1952.
Edition/Format:  Book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
There oughta be a law! no. 4
Author: Al Fagaly; Harry Shorten
Publisher: [S.l.] : Midwood, 1958.
Edition/Format:  Book : English

Pittsburgh (PA) Tribune-Review
‘Lawed out’ in America
By Bill Steigerwald, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, May 29, 2005
Decades ago there was a creepy newspaper comic called “There Oughta Be a Law!”

Its entire existence was built around the slightly totalitarian and not very funny idea that there should be a law for every human problem or annoyance.

The comic ran until 1963, when its creator, artist Al Fagaly, died. Unfortunately, it seems baby boomers took Fagaly’s exhortations to heart.

Today we allegedly free citizens are ensnared by so many federal, state and local laws, regs, codes and ordinances that nobody can keep track of them, much less enforce them fairly or comply with them.

(Trademark)
Word Mark THERE OUGHTA BE A LAW
Goods and Services (EXPIRED) IC 016. US 038. G & S: COMIC DRAWINGS FOR NEWSPAPER USE AND THE LIKE. FIRST USE: 19460200. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19460200
Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING
Serial Number 72227977
Filing Date September 16, 1965
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Registration Number 0810460
Registration Date June 28, 1966
Owner (REGISTRANT) UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE, INC. CORPORATION NEW YORK 220 E. 42ND ST. NEW YORK NEW YORK
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Affidavit Text SECT 15.
Live/Dead Indicator DEAD

(Trademark)
Word Mark THERE OUGHTA BE A LAW
Goods and Services (ABANDONED) IC 016. US 002 005 022 023 029 037 038 050. G & S: Section of a magazine offered to third parties for syndication and printed in a magazine featuring flaws in the legal system where existing remedies are inadequate
Standard Characters Claimed
Mark Drawing Code (4) STANDARD CHARACTER MARK
Serial Number 78326594
Filing Date November 12, 2003
Current Filing Basis 1B
Original Filing Basis 1B
Published for Opposition August 10, 2004
Owner (APPLICANT) The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc. CORPORATION DELAWARE Mark Sirota Reader’s Digest Road Pleasantville NEW YORK 105707000
Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Live/Dead Indicator DEAD
Abandonment Date May 3, 2005

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Tuesday, January 04, 2011 • Permalink