Bob Montana wanted to be a cartoonist since he was seven. Born in Stockton, California on October 23, 1920, Bob was the son of a former Ziegfield girl, Roberta Pandolfini Montana and a top banjo player on the vaudeville circuit, Ray Montana. As a result, Bob grew up traveling from show to show. By the time he was nine, he had been to all 48 states. It was backstage at shows that he learned about comedy and humor writing.
His parents summered in Meredith, where his father reportedly operated a restaurant. That restaurant provided Bob with his first characters, and he spent many hours drawing caricatures of the customers. His father passed away when Bob was only 13 and his mother remarried.
His step-father managed a costume shop in Bradford, Massachusetts so the family moved to Haverhill in 1936. While he attended Haverhill High School, he continued to doodle, keeping diaries of news stories. The Archie Comic Strip that he would later develop was inspired by the faculty and students of Haverhill High.
During his senior year in high school, Bob moved to Manchester, where he graduated from Central High School in 1940.
Montana went on to study at the Phoenix Art Institute in New York and in 1941, his Archie strip was picked up by Pep Comics. The first issue of Archie came out in November 1942.
Bob served in the Army Signal Corps during WWII. He drew coded maps throughout the War and also painted Red Cross and WWII posters. In 1944, while stationed at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, he met Army secretary Peggy Wherett and they married in 1946 when he returned from the war. During his time in the Signal Corps, Bob also worked on training films with William Saroyan and cartoonists Sam Cobean and Charles Addams.
After returning home, Bob and Peggy moved to Manhattan and Bob began drawing the daily and Sunday Archie comic strip for more than 700 newspapers across the country. Two years later, they purchased a New England farmhouse in Meredith. They would raise their four children there. Bob was known for hanging around on his sailing vessel, the White Eagle on Lake Winnipesaukee and for taking in the back country on skis during winter months.
Bob, who continued to publish Archie throughout his life, died of a heart attack while cross-country skiing in Meredith on January 4, 1975.