Final Score

(Following is a list of people who inspired and/or entertained me before they died.  Family members are not included.  The list will be updated from time to time.  JAM 8/4/2009)

 

36

Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962) was a beautiful woman with a wonderful smile.  She was the most popular female movie star of her day.  I was in high school when she died and I was shocked.  In those days, the personal problems of movie stars were not common knowledge and a nerdy teenager like me just knew her from her movies and a few magazine articles. 

39

Martin Luther King (1929-1968) was the intelligent, articulate, honorable leader of the civil rights movement.  Living in California, I had friends of all races and could not understand why southern leaders were so threatened by a particular group of people who just wanted to be treated equally.  I never believed the lone gunman theory.  See my book review for Legacy of Secrecy.

40

John Lennon (1940-1980) was one of the creative forces behind The Beatles, the greatest rock band of all time.  With Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr (Richard Starkey), he produced a volume of classical rock music during the 1960s.  This period can now be known as "The Golden Age of Rock & Roll."  Lennon's cleverness and sense of humor are evident in two small books of short stories and poems published in 1964 and 1965 (In His Own Write and A Spaniard in the Works).

42

Ernie Kovacs (1919-1962) was a comedy genius.  He was also an actor, a writer and an artist.  I met him for the first time in 1957 in the pages of Mad magazine (#37).  Kovacs was a contributor to the first Mad magazine (#24) and ten other issues from 1955 to 1958.  His main contribution to Mad was the parody, "Strangely Believe It!" with drawings by Wally Wood.  Kovacs also had the craziest shows on television (The Ernie Kovacs Show and Take a Good Look).  He died in a tragic automobile accident in 1962.  After his death, his wife (Edie Adams) donated 35 boxes of his writings and show notes to the UCLA library.  Following are some of the "Strangelys" from Mad.

"Peter J. Eversham, owner of a fish market in Brooklyn, New York, lost his spectacles overboard during an ocean voyage in 1951.  Four years later, while cutting open a fish, Peter felt his knife strike something hard.  It was his thumb."

"A tomato in the shape of a tomato was grown by Mrs. Regina Buttles of Mount Palomar, California.  Mrs. Buttles herself is shaped like a pear."

"Gottfried Gunther, famous Bavarian linguist, spoke 212 languages.  None of them could be identified."

"The crawling horned greebus, a fish native Asia, can crawl 100 yards out of the water!  Unfortunately, it gets winded easily, and can never crawl back."

"Arturo La France, a Polish pipe-fitter, inscribed a complete copy of 'The Ruba'ya't of Omar Khayy'am' on the head of a common pin!  Strangely enough, not one single word was legible."

Gilda Radner (1946-1989) was the incredibly-talented comedienne and original cast member of "The Not Ready for Primetime Players" of Saturday Night Live.  See also It's Always Something in Book Reviews (http://www.mindsnackbooks.com/bookreviews/its_always_something.html).

43

Robert Kennedy (1925-1968) - After the death of his brother John, I turned to Bobby as the hope for liberalism in U.S. politics.  He was a dynamo and a great family man with an aura of integrity and strict, ethical behavior.  Of all the Kennedys and all of the politicians of the 1960s, Bobby was the one who most reflected my ideals and hopes for the future.  I read his speeches and I had a framed portrait of him in my room.  I was 21 and a senior in college when Kennedy was a candidate in the California Democratic primary.  I voted for the first time in 1968.  I voted for Bobby, watched his speech after he won and went to bed since I had final exams the next day.  I did not know that he had been shot until the next morning when my mother woke me.  In my life, no event has shocked me more than this one.

Natalie Wood (1938-1981) was beautiful, feisty and smart.  I loved her performance in The Great Race with Jack Lemmon, Peter Falk and Tony Curtis.  During one summer, my friend and I watched this movie every day for a week. 

45

George Reeves (1914-1959) was Superman.  He was the gentle, big-brother figure with a winning smile.  I watched the serial over and over on our black-and-white Zenith television.  I had no knowledge of his personal life but I was a huge fan of Superman and the comics.

46

John Kennedy (1917-1963) was the most popular president in my memory.  He was strong, confident and very, very smart.  During the Cold War, I felt quite safe with him as our leader.  I was a junior in high school when he was shot.  I remember that I saw two girls talking and crying in the locker room between the first and second periods on that day.  The teacher for my second class told us what happened on that day.  I could not watch the news reports.  I could not read the newspapers.  I could not watch the Zapruder film when it was first released in 1975.  This was the day that I realized that evil existed in this country.  I believe that those who were responsible have been identified in The Legacy of Secrecy.

47

Gil Hodges (1924-1972) was the quiet leader and tower of strength for the Brooklyn Dodgers who came to Los Angeles in 1958.  After a seventh place finish in 1958, Gil led the veterans to one last hurrah in 1959 as the Dodgers brought the first World Championship to LA.  After his playing career, he became manager of the New York Mets leading them to a World Championship in 1969.  He was still the manager of the Mets when he suffered a heart attack while playing golf during a spring training break.  Gil Hodges belongs in Baseball's Hall of Fame.

48

Graham Chapman (1941-1989) was a member of Monty Python's Flying Circus and writing partner of John Cleese.  Although he was riddled with personal problems during his life, Chapman leaves an impressive portfolio of inspired comedy especially during his 20 years with the Python group.  He studied medicine at Cambridge but did not practice it.

49

Jim Gilliam (1928-1978) was the solid infielder for the great Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodger teams of the 1950s and 1960s.  He was the Rookie-of-the-Year in 1953 and he played his entire 14-year major-league career with the Dodger organization.  After his playing career, he served as a Dodger coach until his untimely death.

Laura Nyro (1947-1997) was the greatest female singer-songwriter of her time.  She was a poet and a self-taught pianist who demanded and received complete control of her performances and recordings.  Nyro was among the first to over-dub her own background vocals on her songs.  Her first album (More Than a New Discovery) is currently being sold as The First Songs.  My favorite is the simple "Good by joe" [sic].  Nyro's songs were covered by Barbra Streisand ("Stoney End"), The Fifth Dimension ("Wedding Bell Blues") and Three Dog Night ("Eli's Comin") but nobody sang them better than Laura.  Some good examples of her later works are Season of Lights, The Loom's Desire and Angel in the Dark.  Laura Nyro died at 49 of ovarian cancer, at the same age and of the same disease that killed her mother.  An excellent biography of Laura Nyro is Soul Picnic by Michele Kort. [JAM 2/26/2009]

50

Steve McQueen (1930-1980) was a popular actor who starred in 41 movies including The Blob, The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, The Cincinnati Kid, The Thomas Crown Affair, Papillon and Tom Horn.

52

Roy Orbison (1936-1988) was the great singer who recorded Oh, Pretty Woman, Only the Lonely, In Dreams, Crying, Blue Bayou and Love Hurts.  In 1987, he became a member of the Traveling Wilburys.

Frank Zappa (1940-1993) was an accomplished musician and musical scholar who was also the leader of The Mothers of Invention.  He produced 62 rock and classical albums including Lumpy Gravy, We're Only in it for the Money, Weasels Ripped My Flesh,  200 Motels, Just Another Band from L.A. and The Yellow Shark.  Thirty-two more albums were released after his death.

53

Spike Jones (1911-1965) was an innovative band leader known for his satirical songs and crazy sound effects.

Jackie Robinson (1919-1972) was an excellent baseball player for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Gene Siskel (1946-1999) was one-half of the movie critic team of Siskel & Ebert.

54

Wallace Wood (1927-1981) was the greatest comic artist of his time.  He was best known for his humorous drawings that appeared in Mad magazine from 1952 to 1964.  He was a prolific comic book artist specializing in science fiction and action stories after his time with Mad.  Wood never felt that he was compensated well for his work.  He eventually tried to be a publisher with witzend and various other titles but did not achieve the financial success that he sought. 

55

Bernard Kliban (1935-1990) was a cartoonist.

56

Don Drysdale (1936-1993) was the Hall-of-Fame right-handed pitcher who pitched 14 years for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers and won 209 games.

Ian Fleming (1908-1964) was an English spy ("intelligence officer") and the author of 13 James Bond novels and several short stories.

57

Jan Hooks (1957-2014) was a comic actor who performed for Saturday Night Live from 1986 to 1994.  She was the best one.  She was funny, sexy and great at creating characters including various female politicians and celebrities.  She always seemed to enjoy being a member of the SNL gang.  In her last appearance on television, she played a recurring character on 30 Rock in 2010.

Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965) was a respected television journalist who smoked too much.

58

George Harrison (1943-2001) was one of The Beatles, the greatest rock band of all time.

60

Dick Hanchette (1949-2010) was a radio personality on WJER in Ohio.  He was also a prominent collector of Mad Magazine and related publications.  When I started the "MAD Collector's Registry" and the "Mind Snack MADlog" in 1997, Dick was one of the first to join.  He posted all of my newsletters and fanzines on his wonderful website, www.collectmad.com. [JAM 7/27/2010]

Walt Kelly (1913-1973) was the creator of Pogo.

Jerry Paris (1925-1986) was an actor and director best known for his work on The Dick Van Dyke Show (actor) and Happy Days (director).

61

Roger Barkley (1936-1997) was the straight man for the excellent Los Angeles radio team of Lohman & Barkley from 1961 to 1986.

62

Molly Ivins (1944-2007) was a brilliant liberal writer and commentator from Texas.  She was the author or co-author of 11 books including Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America.

Don "Kokomo" Johnson (1940-2003) was a great professional bowler from Indiana.  He won 26 PBA titles and was player of the year for 1971 and 1972.

Elizabeth Montgomery (1933-1995) was the beautiful and intelligent star of Bewitched from 1964 to 1972.  After the television series was cancelled, she acted in 23 tv movies including The Awakening Land mini-series.

Carl Sagan (1934-1996) was a brilliant scientist, astronomer and author of 20 books including Cosmos.

63

Earl Anthony (2001) was the best left-handed professional bowler of all time.

Wilt Chamberlain (1999) scored 100 points in a single professional basketball game.  In 1962, he averaged over 50 points per game and 48 minutes played per game.  He was the only regular player who never fouled out of a game.  It is likely that these records will never be broken.

Audrey Hepburn (1993) was a beautiful, elegant British actress who starred in Roman Holiday, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Charade, My Fair Lady, Wait Until Dark and several others before entering semi-retirement in 1967. 

Mickey Mantle (1995) was the switch-hitting, center fielder for the New York Yankees who won the Triple Crown in 1956 (.352 batting average; 52 home runs; 130 runs batted in).  He was a member of the American League All-Star Team 16 times and he hit 536 home runs in an 18-year career.

John Francis Putnam (1917-1980) - "... art director of MAD magazine from 1954, died Saturday, November 29, 1980 in a Munich, Germany hospital from medical complications brought on by pneumonia.  Mr. Putnam had traveled to Munich in October with the MAD staff for their annual autumn field trip.  'Until John came to us, MAD was just a comic book," said William M. Gaines, publisher of the humor magazine published worldwide.  'He was an expert in typography and magazine production and is responsible for the distinctive "look" MAD has.'  Born in New York City, June 21, 1917, John Putnam lived most of his boyhood in Europe.  His mother, Nina Wilcox Putnam was a novelist and screen play writer.  Her credits include the original screen play for the horror classic "The Mummy".  Prior to joining MAD, Mr. Putnam had his own freelance art studio.  He did extensive package design for United Fruit Company.  'John Putnam was much more than an art director in the traditional sense,' said MAD's editor Albert Feldstein.  'His total enthusiasm for MAD embodied the spirit of the magazine.  He sat in on every editorial conference and contributed tremendously to the whole attitude of humor in the magazine.'  Besides his work for MAD, Mr. Putnam was a writer and artist with a wide range of interests.  He was an expert of international reputation on military history, and all types of miniature modeling.  He was a familiar sight on Madison Avenue near the MAD offices sporting a beret decorated with an ever changing variety of carefully selected badges.  For the special trip to Europe he had worn the badge of the Greek Imperial Merchant Marine.  As a fine artist his major works were in wood sculpture and painted paper constructions he called "Mind Gardens."  He had a number of gallery shows in recent years in Greenwich Village and Soho.  His offbeat essays were a regular feature in "The Realist" and other esoteric humor magazines.  'He never went to college,' said William Gaines, 'but he knew everything.  He was a voracious reader.  He joined MAD as a $75 a week temporary worker and was the oldest member of the staff both in age and in time with the magazine.'  Mr. Putnam was a humanist who cared greatly for people.  Having successfully participated in the Alcoholics Annonymous program himself, he volunteered a great deal of time in helping others in AA.  He is survived by his widow Jane of New York City, and their child, Jared Israel Putnam, named for Mr. Putnam's Revolutionary War ancestor, General Israel Putnam.  He also is survived by his children from a former marriage, Robert Putnam of Stockbridge, Mass.; Peter Putnam and Pamela Allard of Great Barrington, Mass.; and two grandchildren, Darren Wilcox Allard and Jennifer Leigh Allard.  Mr. Putnam's remains were cremated in Germany.  There will be a memorial service for John Putnam at 11 a.m. on Monday, December 8, 1980 at the Warner Communications Building, 75 Rockefeller Plaza, on the third floor."

Robin Williams (1951-2014) was a comic genius with the ability to mimic anyone or anything and change subjects at a rapid pace seemingly without end.  He burst onto our television screens as Mork from Ork in the Happy Days series and quickly received a television show of his own.  He was perfectly cast as Popeye in 1980 in the under-appreciated film by Robert Altman (1925-2006) that brought the Thimble Theatre of E.C. Segar (1894-1938) to life like nobody has done before or since.  Williams continued an active movie and television career until his death with his last movie role being the reprise of his Teddy Roosevelt (1858-1919) character in the third of the Night at the Museum series.

64

Donna Reed (1986) was a beautiful actress who performed in over 40 movies and several television series including The Donna Reed Show from 1958 to 1966.

65

Walt Disney (1901-1966) was the creative genius and visionary behind Mickey Mouse, Disneyland, the Walt Disney Presents television show (1958-1961) and numerous movies & other forms of family entertainment.

Merl Reagle (1950-2015) was a genius who created the clever Sunday crossword puzzlers for the LA Times and other newspapers.  His puzzles always contained interesting twists and plays on words.

Dan Rowan (1922-1987) was the straight man for Dick Martin in the comedy team of Rowan & Martin who hosted the Laugh-In television show from 1968 to 1973.

68

Ray Goulding (1922-1990) was half of the radio comedy team, Bob & Ray.

Harvey Kurtzman (1924-1993) was writer/artist/editor who created Mad comic book & magazine as well as Frontline Combat & Two-Fisted Tales for EC.  After Mad, he created Trump, Humbug, Help! and many humorous publications.

Don Martin (1931-2000) was the crazy cartoonist who drew for Mad magazine from 1956 to 1988.

69

Gracie Allen (1895-1964) was the most popular comedienne in vaudeville, on radio, and in the early days of black-and-white television.  As a member of the Burns & Allen comedy team, she set the standard as an optimistic, lovable, flawless female entertainer.

Al Lohman (1933-2002) was the brilliant jokester and character voice of most of the staff members of The Lohman & Barkley radio show.

Eddie Mathews (1931-2001) was the third baseman for the Milwaukee Braves who hit 512 home runs in his major league baseball career.

Ozzie Nelson (1906-1975) was a band leader the acting star, director, producer and writer of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet that ran on network television for 435 episodes from 1952 to 1966.

Harold Ramis (1944-2014) was one of The Ghostbusters (Dr. Egon Spengler).  He wrote and performed in GBI (1984) and GBI (1989) with Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson.  For years there were rumors of a GBIII but it will never happen now since the creative force behind the series.  Ramis also wrote and/or directed Caddyshack, Groundhog Day, Analyze This, Analyze That, National Lampoon movies (Animal House, Vacation), et al.

Max Shulman (1919-1988) was a humorist and the author of ten novels including Barefoot Boy With Cheek, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, and Potatoes Are Cheaper.

Jay Ward (1920-1989) was the producer and biggest fan of cartoon shows including Crusader Rabbit and Rocky & Bullwinkle.

70

Roger Ebert (1942-2013) was one-half of the movie critic team of Siskel & Ebert.

Annette Funicello (1942-2013) was the prettiest of the female Mouseketeers.  She was not a great actor but I enjoyed seeing her in all of the Beach Party movies.

William F. Gaines (1922-1992) was the jovial publisher of EC Comics and Mad magazine.

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999) was the innovative director of classic movies including Spartacus, Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon and The Shining.

John D. MacDonald (1916-1986) was the author of the Travis McGee series of detective novels as well as numerous other detective & syfy novels, short stories and works of non-fiction.

Roddy McDowall (1928-1998) was an actor who performed in eight movies at the age of ten and continued to act in 264 movies, tv series and misc. productions during a 60-year career. 

Gene Roddenberry (1921-1991) was the creator of Star Trek.

Orson Welles (1915-1985) was an actor, director and commercial spokesperson with a giant ego.  He is best known for the radio production of War of the Worlds and the movie, Citizen Kane.

71

Peter Boyle (1925-2006) was an American character actor who played the monster in Young Frankenstein and the father in Everybody Loves Raymond.

Roy Campanella (1921-1993) was the Hall-of-Fame catcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers who won three Most Valuable Player awards and hit 242 home runs in ten seasons before his career was shortened by a tragic automobile accident.

George Carlin (1937-2008) - was a stand-up comedian.  See also review of Last Words in Book Reviews (http://www.mindsnackbooks.com/bookreviews/last_words.html).

Johnny Cash (1932-2003) was a singer of country songs.

Jim Garrison (1921-1992) was the District Attorney of Orleans Parrish, Louisiana who investigated the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

George Gobel (1919-1991) was a comedian ant the star of The George Gobel Show from 1954 to 1960.

George C. Scott (1927-1999) was an award-winning actor who starred in Patton, The New Centurions, The Day of the Dolphin, and Firestarter.

72

George Allen (1918-1990) was the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams from 1966 to 1970 with a record of 49-17-4.

Walter Alston (1911-1984) was the manager of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers for 23 seasons, winning World Series titles in 1955, 1959, 1963 and 1965.  His record was 2040-1613-5.

Roger Price (1918-1990) was a humorist and author of numerous books including Mad Libs, Droodles and The Great Roob Revolution.

Willie Shoemaker (1931-2003) was the greatest jockey of his generation.

Peter Bergman (1939-2012) was the main writer and creative force behind Firesign Theatre.  The complex, documentary-style comedy albums such as Waiting for the Electricians or Someone Like Him were the humor equivalent of rock music classics in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  He also performed with group member Phillip Proctor as Proctor and Bergman.  The last of 29 Firesign Theatre albums was released in 2010.  Collect them all!

73

David Niven (1910-1983) was an English actor who performed in 113 movies and television series over a 50-year career.

Phil Silvers (1911-1985) was a comic actor best known as Sergeant Bilko on The Phil Silvers Show that aired from 1955 to 1959.

Mel Torme (1925-1999) was a singer known as The Velvet Fog.

George Woodbridge (1930-2004) was an artist who worked for MAD magazine from 1957 to 2003.  His work appeared in 268 issues including the classic "43-Man Squamish" that appeared in MAD #95.

74

Phil Austin (1941-2015) - was a member of Firesign Theatre.

James Coburn (1928-2002) - was an actor who performed in 174 films and television series including The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, Our Man Flint, Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid and Maverick.

Danny Kaye (1911-1987) - was a singer, dancer, actor and entertainer who started his career in vaudeville.  He also starred in a very popular television variety show (The Danny Kaye Show) from 1963 to 1967.

Fred Rogers (1928-2003) - hosted Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood from 1968 to 2001.

Allan Roth (1917-1992) - was the statistician for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

75

Dick Weber (1929-2005) - was the greatest professional bowler whose career spanned the period before the use of modern synthetic materials in bowling equipment.  He won 30 PBA tournaments including the 1962, 1963, 1965 and 1966 BPAA All-Star Tournaments (now known as The U.S. Open).

76

Jim Backus (1913-1989) - was an actor and the voice of Mr. Magoo.  He performed in 245 films including Gilligan's Island (1964-1967, 1978, 1979, 1981 & 1992), It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and I Married Joan (1952-1955)

Johnny Hart (1931-2007) - was the writer and artist for the B.C. comic strip.

Tom Hayden (1939-2016) was a scholar-activist who dedicated his life to the resolution of injustices to humanity.  From the war in Vietnam to racial inequality to health & poverty issues, he was always there leading the charge.

Joseph Heller (1923-1999) - wrote Catch-22 and a few other things.

Jack Lemmon (1925-2001) - was an actor and golfer who starred in Mister Roberts, Bell Book & Candle, Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, Days of Wine & Roses, Irma La Douce, The Great Race, The Odd Couple, The China Syndrome, Glengarry Glen Ross, Grumpy Old Men and many other movies.

George Plimpton (1927-2003) - was a journalist who wrote for the Harvard Lampoon (1944-1948) and then gained fame as a sportswriter and author of Paper Lion and other books.

77

Henry Fonda (1905-1982) - was an actor.

Kenneth Hahn (1920-1997) was a highly-respected member of the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors from 1952 to 1992.

Edward (Ted) Moore Kennedy (1932-2009) - was the senator from Massachusetts for the last 47 years of his life.  Kennedy was a representative of all the people of the country, not just the privileged and wealthy.  He championed important "liberal" causes such as universal healthcare, workers rights, voting rights, immigration reform, education reform, and increases to the minimum wage. 

John McKay (1923-2001) was the head coach of the USC Trojans from 1960 to 1975.

Antonio Prohias (1921-1998) was a Cuban-born artist who created Spy vs. Spy for MAD magazine.  His work appeared in 177 issues the magazine from 1961 to 1995.

Charles Schulz (1922-2000) was the creator of Peanuts.

78

Steve Allen (1921-2000) was a Renaissance man in the 20th century.  I grew up with Steve Allen on television.  I enjoyed his sense of humor and unbounded optimism.  Steve Allen was much more than a humorist.  He was an accomplished pianist, an astute political activist, competent actor (45 credits on Imdb including the lead in The Benny Goodman Story), prolific songwriter and author.  He wrote and edited 54 books including fiction, self-help, biography, history, religion and humor titles. [JAM 3/2/2009]

Books by Steve Allen: Bop Fables (1955) Fourteen for Tonight (1955) Wry on the Rocks (1956) Funny Men (1956) Girls on the Tenth Floor (1958) The Question Man (1959) Mark It and Strike It (1960) Not All Your Laughter, Not All Your Tears (1962) Dialogue in Americanism (1964) Letter to a Conservative (1965) The Ground Is Our Table (1966) Bigger Than a Breadbox (1967) A Flash of Swallows (1969) The Wake (1972) Curses! (1973) Princess Snip-Snip and the Puppykittens (1973) What to Say When It Rains (1974) Schmock!-Schmock! (1975) A Meeting of Minds (1978) Chopped-Up Chinese (1978) Meeting of Minds, Second Series (1979) Ripoff: The Corruption that Plagues America (1979) Explaining China (1980)Funny People (1981) More Funny People (1982) The Talk Show Murders (1982) Beloved Son: A Story of the Jesus Cults (1982) How to Make a Speech (1986) How to Be Funny (1987) The Passionate Non-Smoker's Bill of Rights (1989) Meeting of Minds Vol. III (1989) Meeting of Minds Vol. IV (1989) Murder on the Glitter Box (1989) Dumbth, and 81 Ways to Make Americans Smarter (1989) The Public Hating (1990) Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion & Morality (1990) Murder in Manhattan (1990) Murder in Vegas (1991) Hi-Ho Steverino! (1992) Make 'Em Laugh (1993) More Steve Allen on the Bible Religion & Morality (1993) The Murder Game (1993) Reflections (1994) Murder on the Atlantic (1995) The Bug and the Slug in the Rug (1995) The Man Who Turned Back the Clock and Other Short Stories (1995) But Seriously ... (1996) Wake Up to Murder (1996) Die Laughing (1997) Dumbth, the Lost Art of Thinking and 101 Ways to Reason & Improve Your Mind (1998) Murder in Hawaii (1999) Steve Allen's Songs (1999) Steve Allen's Private Joke File (2000) Vulgarians at the Gate (2001)

Dean Martin (1917-1995) was a singer, actor and star of the popular The Dean Martin Show that ran from 1965 to 1974.

Garry Moore (1915-1993) was a comedian and game show host.  He is best known for I've Got a Secret that ran from 1952 to 1966.

Jim Murray (1919-1998) was a sports journalist for 54 years for the Los Angeles Examiner, Los Angeles Times and other sports publications.  He was known for his creative writing.

Jean Shepherd (1921-1999) was a humorist and author.  His best works were In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash and Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories And Other Disasters.  Material from Shepherd's books was used to create the script for the movie, A Christmas Story.

79

Johnny Carson (1925-2005) was the host of The Tonight Show from 1962 to 1992.

John Fowles (1926-2005) was the author of The Magus, The French Lieutenant's Woman, Daniel Martin and other novels.

DeForest Kelley (1920-1999) was Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy on Star Trek.

Walter Matthau (1920-2000) was an actor who performed in 105 movies and television series over a 50-year career.

Robert Mitchum (1917-1997) was an actor who performed in 134 movies and tv series over a 55-year career.

Henry Morgan (1915-1992) was a humorist, curmudgeon and television panelist.

Hoyt Wilhelm (1922-2002) was a baseball knuckleball pitcher who pitched in 1,070 games in a 21-year career that ended at the age of 49.

80

Jack Benny (1894-1974) - "He was my favorite comedian to study.  I watched all of his old shows.  He was the most complete comedian.  By that I mean you couldn't separate him from his character.  He had terrific timing.  While he had writers for his material, he certainly was the best at delivering lines - and he was the best character for writers to take inspiration from." - Rita Rudner in Laughlin, Nevada entertainer - November 10-16, 2010

Tom Bradley (1917-1998) was the 38th Mayor of Los Angeles serving from 1973 to 1993.

Jerry Doggett (1916-1997) was a baseball announcer for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Burt Lancaster (1913-1994) was the leading actor in numerous movies including Jim Thorpe - All American, From Here to Eternity, Apache, Vera Cruz, Trapeze, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Run Silent Run Deep, Elmer Gantry, Judgment at Nuremberg, Birdman of Alcatraz, Seven Days in May, Valdez is Coming, and The Island of Dr. Moreau.

Gary Owens (1934-2015) was the author of the "Nurny Song" and the star of the comedy album, "Put Your Head on My Finger".  He also did a few radio and television shows.

81

Edie Adams (1927-2008) was a beautiful actress and the spouse of Ernie Kovacs.

Robert Altman (1925-2006) was a prolific televsion director who was also responsible for movie classics M*A*S*H, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Nashville and Popeye.

Dave Berg (1920-2002) was an artist and writer for MAD magazine from 1956 until his death.  He was one the first artists to be hired by Albert Feldstein after Harvey Kurtzman departed from the publication.  Berg's "Lighter Side" feature was a prominent part of the magazine during its most popular period on the newsstands.  His work appeared in 368 issues of MAD including 323 consecutive issue from #34 to #356. 

Mel Blanc (1908-1989) was the voice of Warner Brothers cartoon characters Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat, Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam and most of the others.  He also voiced Woody Woodpecker, Barney Rubble (Flintstones), Mr. Spacely (Jetsons) and many others.  He has 1,143 IMDB acting credits - more than any other performer.

Larry Gelbart (1928-2009) - Mr. Gelbart was a highly-respected, prolific comedy writer for Danny Thomas, Sid Caesar, Bob Hope, Red Buttons, Jack Paar, Marty Feldman and others.  He also wrote for "Duffy's Tavern" (radio), "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" (Broadway play), "M*A*S*H (television), "Tootsie" (movie) and many more over a 65-year, professional writing career.

Don Knotts (1924-2006) was one of the original "Men on the Street" on The Steve Allen Show with Tom Poston and Louis Nye.  He later portrayed Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show and then starred in numerous movies.

Harvey Korman (1927-2008) was a genius at comedy acting mainly in supporting roles.  He is best known for his work on The Carol Burnett Show.  His movie credits include Lord Love a Duck, Blazing Saddles, and High Anxiety.

Garry Marshall (1934-2016) was the creative genius behind Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy and many other television shows and movies.  He was also a writer for Dick Van Dyke, Bob Hope, Jack Paar, Danny Thomas, Bill Dana, Joey Bishop, Lucille Ball and others.  He was also a softball pitcher is several senior leagues.

Gene Rayburn (1917-1999) was an actor, television announcer and the hilarious moderator for the game show Match Game from 1962 to 1984.

Harold Peter Henry "PeeWee" Reese (1918-1999) was the Hall-of-Fame shortstop for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1940 to 1957.  He also played one year (1958) for the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

Lloyd Thaxton (1927-2008) was a television producer who was as the comedy genius and host of The Lloyd Thaxton Show (Hop) from 1961 to 1968.

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Don Adams (1923-2005) was Maxwell Smart in the great Get Smart television show that ran from 1965 to 1970.

David Brinkley (1920-2003) was half of the network news journalism team (Huntley Brinkley Report) that aired on NBC from 1956 to 1970. 

Frank Frazetta (1928-2010) was the most talented fantasy illustrator of all time.  His distinctive drawings seemed to jump from the pages on which they were drawn.  He was most famous for his cover drawings for Conan the Barbarian, Tarzan and other fantasy and syfy publications.  His long career also included work on L'il Abner, Mad, National Lampoon (April 1971 - "Adventure Issue") and various rock album covers.  His work appeared on Mad magazine three times: Mad #90 (Ringo Starr Blecch Shampoo back cover ad parody), Mad #106 back cover (Tarzan) and the front cover Mad #338 (Judge Dredd).

Warren Spahn (2003) was the durable, left-handed pitcher who won 363 baseball games mostly for the National League Braves over 21 years (1942-1965).

Baxter Ward (1919-2002) served the city and county of Los Angeles for many years as the ethical television news reporter and later county supervisor.

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Mel Allen (1913-1996) was the baseball announcer for the New York Yankees from 1939 to 1985.

Ernie Banks (1931-2015) was a power-hitting shortstop and the greatest player in the history of the Chicago Cubs.  After eight years as an All-Star shortstop, he moved to first base and passed the great Mel Ott with 512 career home runs.  Banks was the National League Most Valuable Player in 1958 and 1959, and he played on 11 All-Star teams in his 19-year career - all with the Cubs.

Gene Kelly (1912-1996) was the greatest motion picture dancer (with apologies to Fred Astaire) performing in 40 movies and several television over a career that started in 1942 with For Me And My Gal.

Fred MacMurray (1908-1991) was the versatile leading-man and comedy actor who appeared in over one hundred movies and then became one of the country's favorite father figures on television in My Three Sons that ran from 1960 to 1972.

Paul Newman (1925-2008) was one of the greatest actors of the 20th century performing lead roles in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Young Philadelphians, Exodus, The Hustler, Sweet Bird of Youth, Hud, Harper, Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Sometimes a Great Notion, The Sting, Fort Apache the Bronx, The Color of Money and many others.  In his later years he turned to auto racing, political activism and the business of food (Newman's Own).

Mike Nichols (1932-2014) was the excellent director of so many of the great movies of our generation including Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf?, The Graduate, Catch-22, Carnal Knowledge, Silkwood, Working Girl, and finally Charlie Wilson's War in 2007.  Before he started making movies, he was half of the very intelligent comedy team of Nichols & May from 1958 to 1961.

Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015) was the actor, director, writer and philosopher who was best known as "Mr. Spock" on the original Star Trek.

Gene Wilder (1933-2016) was the wonderful, wacky, expressive star of The Producers, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, and many other movies over a 55-year career.  He was also a director, producer and writer with the screenplay for Young Frankenstein among his credits.

Ted Williams (1918-2002) was the finest pure hitter of a baseball who played his entire career with the Boston Red Sox and hit 521 home runs in spite of missing almost five years to serve his country as a pilot during World War II and the Korean War.

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Frank Kelly Freas (1922-2005) was an artist who drew many of the iconic covers of MAD magazine from 1957 to 1962.

Eydie Gorme (1928-2013) was beautiful, funny and talented.  It was always a joy to see her smiling face on our television screen.  My fondest memories of her are the numerous appearances, singing and acting, with husband Steve Lawrence on the Steve Allen Show.

Ben Hogan (1912-1997) was one of the greatest golfers of all time.  He won 69 professional golf tournaments in spite of career-shortening injuries.

Red Skelton (1913-1997) was a vaudeville comedian and television performer whose career spanned 50 years after his start in radio in 1934.

Edwin Donald (Duke) Snider (1926-2011) was the "Duke of Flatbush" and the center fielder & batting star of the Brooklyn Dodgers during the 1950s.  Snider hit 40 home runs per season for five straight years (1953-1957) and was an eight-time all-star.  He brought his class act to Los Angeles in 1958 and led the Dodgers to their first West Coast World Series championship in 1959.  The Duke was a humble athlete who had nothing but kind words for the fans and his competitors.  Duke Snider was a positive role model during the golden age of baseball.

Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) was the wonderful, creative author of 30 books and numerous stories and articles.  His works should be read by all serious students of the art.

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Don Carter (1926-2012) was the crooked-arm star of professional bowling before the PBA tour began in 1958.  In the 1950s he won four of eight BPAA All-Star (now known as the U.S. Open) tournaments and five of six World Invitational titles and never finished lower than fourth place during the period.  He also won the PBA National Championship in 1960, the ABC Masters tournament in 1961, and many other bowling events.  When I was competing in the junior leagues, Mr. Carter was known as "Mr. Bowling."

Chick Hearn (1916-2002) was the radio and television voice of the Los Angeles Lakers for 37 years.  He announced 3,338 consecutive games.

Harriet Nelson (1909-1994) was a singer, actress and the spouse of Ozzie Nelson.

Tom Poston (1921-2007) was one of the original "Men on the Street" on The Steve Allen Show with Don Knotts and Louis Nye.

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Paul Conrad (1924-2010) was the editorial cartoonist for the Los Angeles Times for thirty.  His excellent drawings demonstrated his acute awareness of the issues of our times.  I read them every day and I cannot think of a single disagreement that I had with his opinions.  Mr. Conrad won Pulitzer Prizes for editorial cartooning in 1964, 1971 and 1984.  He also had the great distinction of being named on Richard Nixon's enemy list.  Nothing I could write here could explain the impact of his drawings.  Go to www.proandconrad.com.

Alan Cranston (1914-2000) was a United States Senator representing the State of California from 1968 to 1992.

Will Elder (1921-2008) was the brilliant artist who teamed with Harvey Kurtzman to create MAD (comic & magazine), Trump, Humbug, Goodman Beaver (in Help!) and Little Annie Fanny (in Playboy).  His biography (Mad Playboy of Art) is a classic compilation of his art that belongs in the library of all fans of humor and art.

James Garner (1928-2014) was an actor who projected his easy-going sense of humor to his chosen roles.  He first came to my attention with his role as Bret Maverick, a gambler and unconventional, non-violent hero in the television series Maverick that ran from 1957 to 1962.  Garner went from Maverick to a successful movie career but returned to television in 1974 in The Rockford Files with his sense of humor in tact but with an edge to his character who had a checkered past.  The Maverick-style returned in a pair of humorous western movies (Support Your Local Sheriff! and Support Your Local Gunfighter!).  He also returned in the Maverick movie as Marshal Zane Cooper.  In 1999 he played Captain Woodrow Call in the mini-series of Larry McMurtry's Streets of Laredo.  Although he was rarely recognized as a serious actor, he had the ability to occupy a role and connect with a working-class audience who could easily identify with him.

Dick Martin (1922-2008) was the silly half of the Rowan & Martin comedy team.

Roy Rogers (1911-1998) was a cowboy singer and actor.  His real name was Leonard Slye.

Gore Vidal (1925-2012) was the greatest American author of historical fiction.  His "Narratives of Empire" series [Washington D.C. (1967), Burr (1973), 1876 (1976), Lincoln (1984), Empire (1987), Hollywood (1990), and The Golden Age (2000)] is without equal.  In addition, he was an astute and articulate commentator on the domestic and international political scenes.  He leaves an impressive library of 79 published works including essays [Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace or How We Came to be so Hated (2002) et al.], novels [Julian (1964), Creation (1981) et al.], plays [Visit to a Small Planet (1957), An Evening with Richard Nixon (1970) et al.] and screenplays [Ben Hur (1959), Is Paris Burning? (1966), Billy the Kid (1989) et al.].  Unfortunately, he was too controversial to attain political office.  The country and the world would have benefited greatly from his wisdom and honesty in the political theatre.

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Morey Amsterdam (1908-1996) was a comedian whose career started in Vaudeville and continued into various television performances including The Dick Van Dyke Show.

Bob Clarke (1926-2013) was the talented and prolific artist who deserves much credit for the style of Mad magazine from the 1950s and beyond.  An excellent interview with Mr. Clarke appeared in The Journal of MADness #6.

Jacques Cousteau (1910-1997) was a French scientist and a creator of documentaries.

Theodore Seuss Geisel (1904-1991) was Dr. Seuss.

Arnold Palmer (1929-2016) was the first big television star for golf.  His aggressive style of play and his friendly demeanor established him as a favorite in the late 1950s and early 1960s and for his 50+ years of competitive professional golf.  He won 62 PGA tournaments including The Masters (four times), The British Open (twice) and The U.S. Open in 1960.

Jonathan Winters (1925-2013) was zany.

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Fred Astaire (1899-1987) was a great dancer.

Dale Evans (1912-2001) was the beautiful acting partner of Roy Rogers.

Albert Feldstein (1925-2014) was the editor of Mad magazine from 1956 to 1985 (228 issues) covering Mads numbered 29 through 256, the period of Mad's greatest commercial success.  He deserves the credit for recruiting such Mad legends as Mort Drucker, Don Martin, Bob Clarke, Sergio Aragones, Antonio Prohias, Dave Berg, Paul Coker, Angelo Torres, George Woodbridge and others who combined to make Mad the most important humor/satire/parody publication to exist in the known history of planet Earth.  Before Mad, Feldstein was the successful editor, writer and artist for various EC publications for publisher William M. Gaines including the classic 12 issues of Panic, the Mad companion.  After Mad, Feldstein returned to his artistic roots with an impressive output of art works. 

Stan Freberg (1926-2015) was a comedy and advertising genius with the greatest voice in show business history.

Stan Hart (1928-2017) was one of the greatest writers for Mad magazine.  For 38 years, he wrote excellent articles and parodies for all of the great Mad artists.  He was also a prolific television writer for comedy shows including The Carol Burnett Show where he was the head writer in 1972-1973.

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Tom Koch (1925-2015) was a writer for MAD magazine and the radio comedy team of Bob & Ray.  For MAD, Mr. Koch wrote the first MAD Primer, numerous poetry parodies and sports parodies such as the greatest of them all - "43-Man Squamish" that appeared in MAD # 95 illustrated by George Woodbridge (1930-2004).

Martin Landau (1928-2017) was a veteran character actor who was part the ensemble casts of the television series Mission:Impossible and Space: 1999.  He won an academy award for his role as Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood.

Eugene McCarthy (1916-2005) was an excellent liberal congressman and senator from Minnesota from 1949 to 1971.  McCarthy ran for president in 1968 as an anti- Vietnam War candidate, causing Lyndon Johnson (1908-1973) to drop out of the race.

Sam Snead (1912-2002) was a great professional golfer who won more PGA tournaments than any other player.

Jimmy Stewart (1908-1997) was a very popular leading actor who starred in 98 movies including It's a Wonderful Life, The Philadelphia Story, Harvey, The Greatest Show on Earth, The Glenn Miller Story, The Spirit of St. Louis, Rear Window, Vertigo, Bell Book and Candle, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, How the West Was Won, Cheyenne Autumn and many others.

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Lawrence Peter (Yogi) Berra (1925-2015) was the great catcher who led the New York Yankees to nine World Series championships from 1947 to 1962.

Edmund G. (Pat) Brown (1905-1996) was the governor of California from 1959 to 1967.

George Martin (1926-2016) was a record producer who played an important role in the success of The Beatles.

George McGovern (1922-2012) was the 1972 Democratic presidential candidate nominated to run against incumbent Richard Nixon.  As a senator from South Dakota for three terms, he had gained a well-deserved reputation in Congress for his integrity and honesty.  His memorable quote from the 1972 campaign was: "I promise to seek and speak the truth."  Although the Watergate scandal was breaking in 1972, it came too late to resonate with the electorate.  Nixon, who barely campaigned at all, won by a landslide but was later proven to be the lesser candidate.  I was serving in the U.S. Navy in 1972 while the awful war in Vietnam was raging.  I saw anti-war candidate McGovern as the only possibility for any early end to the war.  Although I was earning less than $400 per month, I donated to McGovern's campaign and became a member of the "McGovern Million-Member Club." 

Lou Silverstone (1924-2015) was a great writer for MAD magazine.

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Jack Davis (1924-2016) was the prolific cartoonist who was one of the original artists who helped to created the MAD comic book and magazine originated by editor Harvey Kurtzman.  Davis was also known for numerous movie posters and for his ability to create amazing, complex, humorous scenes in less time than another illustrator of his era.  Davis followed Kurtzman to Trump and Humbug but eventually returned for many years as a member of the Usual Gang of Idiots.

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Walter Cronkite (1916-2009) was "the most trusted man in the United States."  As anchor journalist and managing editor of CBS News, he told us about wars, moon landings, the death of one president (Kennedy) and the resignation of another (Nixon).  He was the television father of the boomer generation.

Bob Elliot (1923-2016) was half of the radio comedy team, Bob & Ray.

Louis Nye (1913-2005) was "Gordon Hathaway" on Steve Allen's "Man on the Street."

Andy Rooney (1919-2011) always had something interesting to say on Sunday night.

Stan Musial (1920-2013) was the greatest National League hitter and the most respected gentleman of the sports world during the 1940s and 1950s.  He was selected for 20 consecutive all-star games even though his playing time was limited due to injuries from 1959 until 1963.

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Carl Barks (1901-2000) was a writer for comic books including Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck.

June Foray (1917-2017) was a prolific comedienne and voice actor with over 300 IMDB credits during a 70-year career.  She was known primarily as the voice of Rocket J. Squirrel in Jay Ward Productions, but her long career also included work with show business greats Steve Allen, Jack Benny, Ray Milland, Lucille Ball, Walt Disney, Red Skelton, Carol Channing, Don Adams and Walter Lantz.

John Wooden (1910-2010) was the humble, dedicated coach of the UCLA Bruin basketball team from 1948 to 1975.  He was known for his devotion to integrity, hard work and ethical behavior.  During that time with UCLA, he won ten national championships including seven in a row (1966-1973).  He was also an excellent college basketball player at Purdue where he led the team to a national championship in 1932.  He played pro basketball in the years before the NBA was established.  In all of the years that I saw Mr. Wooden on television, I never heard him say a negative word about anyone or anything.  Also, I never heard anyone say anything negative about him.  The word "gentlemen" truly defines him.

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George Burns (1896-1996) was the straight man for his spouse, Gracie Allen (1895-1964) of Burns & Allen.

Leslie Townes "Bob" Hope (1903-2003) was a golfer and an entertainer whose career spanned 60 years from Vaudeville to radio to television to motion pictures and 57 USO tours.