Wow, we’ve linked to some amazing LIFE Magazine photo galleries before, but here is a doozy:MAD Magazine: A Semi-Secret History with photos of MAD founder Bill Gaines from the files of current editor John Ficarra. LIFE made a few images available, but each is accompanied by Ficarra’s commentary on the site with even more history and insight.
Obviously being parodied in MAD was a badge of honor for this ’80s TV cast.
Robert De Niro and son visit the offices in the 80s. The gallery includes the Usual Gang of Idiots in the Alps, in France, in Hollywood and around the world…the MAD crew was always living the life. As rumpled and quirky as they appear, the MAD-men were icons of generation after generation of kids and celebrities. You think comics are cool now…but MAD was there long ago.
Gaines, a notorious packrat, was the heart and soul of the operation and not without his quirks, as one caption reveals:
“Back then, if you made a long-distance phone call, you had to fill out a little slip of paper that was part of what we called ‘Bill’s Bills Department.’ If it was a business call, no problem. But if it was personal, Bill would come around and collect that 73 cents it cost, or whatever it was. He was obsessive about this. Bill was as crazy and cheap as he was generous and kind. He would complain all day that no one would fess up to a 73-cent call, then because we were working late he would take us out and blow a thousand bucks on dinner. He loved big things,” says Ficarra. “He loved King Kong. He loved zeppelins. You can’t see it in this but the entire ceiling of his office was filled with antique zeppelins. He was a tremendous slob. Such an interesting guy, and one who could really cut through the bull.”
We couldn’t resist ganking this photo of Sergio Aragones on the ’60s show Laugh-In. Like we said, there’s a lot of history to go around.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.