Michael SilberkleitArchie Chairman Michael Silberkleit died on August 5. An obituary supplied by Archie follows.

Michael I. Silberkleit, the chairman of Archie Comic Publications, died August 5th in New York City at the age of 76, after a short battle with cancer.

For much of the 60 years he worked at Archie Comics, Silberkleit shared the leadership of the company with Richard Goldwater, whose father, John Goldwater, and his partner, Louis Silberkleit, Michael’s father, founded the company.

The sons, who began working at the company as boys, later steered Archie Comics into the modern era of publishing as electronic production techniques and brand licensing became important. They encouraged the development of new characters, such as Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, and Josie and the Pussycats, and successfully licensed these and other characters through Archie Comics Entertainment. Silberkleit was also Executive consultant to the TV program, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, a long running series starring Melissa Joan Hart. The company also published comic books as a licensee, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Sonic the Hedgehog. At various times Silberkleit was chairman of the Comics Association of America.

The centerpiece identity of the company, which is based in Mamaroneck, New York, remains the brightly innocent presence of Archie and his girlfriends, Betty and Veronica, who made their comic debut in 1941.

Over the decades Michael Silberkleit and Richard Goldwater steadfastly refused to introduce the worldlier and darker elements of teenage life, like sex and drugs and violence, into the Archie storylines. In doing so they preserved an image of adolescence for the target audience of 7-to-14 year olds.

Silberkleit was determined to keep Archie an American institution, pure as childhood, yet up-to-date with the latest technology used by children today. For generations of readers, Archie and the Gang have represented the wonder and magic of childhood and Silberkleit fought successfully to keep this vision alive.

Unlike some competitors who use longer formats, Archie Comics continues its tradition of telling accessible, short stories. In one of the many interviews Silberkleit gave, he said, “The fact that our stories are funny, are non-violent, believable, clean and appropriate for youngsters makes us so appealing to the younger reader. This philosophy hasn’t changed for more than 60 years. Many parents grew up reading Archie Comics and feel that our comics are appropriate for their kids.”

After an initial public offering in the early 1970s, when Silberkleit served as Treasurer, Archie Comics shares were traded publicly. But after ten years Silberkleit and his partner Goldwater bought the company back from shareholders and held it as a private, family-owned business thereafter. Currently, the company publishes over 10 million comics per year in a dozen languages worldwide.

Born in New York City in 1932, Silberkleit attended the Fieldston School before going to Albright College as an undergraduate. He studied law after his graduation.

Silberkleit was also active in the community, volunteering as an auxiliary policeman for the Scarsdale Police force.

A resident of Rye and East Hampton, N.Y., Silberkleit indulged his mechanical aptitude with vintage sports cars, spending several years restoring a 1966 Austin Healey 3000 MKIII.

He is survived by his wife, Nancy Lind Silberkleit, and their daughter, Alexandria, and by three adult children from a prior marriage to Karen Silberkleit: Susan Berkley, David Silberkleit and Amy Silberkleit, as well as grandchildren Isis and Elijah Shiffer.

A private funeral and memorial service is planned for Sunday, August 10th. The family asks that, in lieu of flowers or other memorials, donations should be made to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Research.


  1. Mr. Silberkleit was always cordial to me over the years, and although Archie could definitely be considered “old school” in their approach to comics, Michael was always a close observer of the marketplace, and followed the development of the direct-sales market with great interest and keen observation.

    We would always chat a bit at any convention we were at, most recently at the New York Comic-Con. He was very interested in the growth of bookstore sales, and what it might mean for Archie.

    While they did eschew violence and other edgier themes, I had the luck to be present at a meeting with Batton Lash and Victor Gorelick years ago, where over drinks Batton suggested having Archie meet The Punisher. After we got done laughing our heads off, Victor decided to bring the notion to Mr. Silberkleit, and to his delight found it approved, resulting in Archie’s first crossover into the Marvel universe.

    He was present behind-the-scenes during various industry controversies such as the changes in the Comics Code, comics rating debates, and other issues. He was always worth listening to in these discussions, although not always easy to agree with.

    He was a tough businessman, but a very decent human being. Always personable, he brought a worthwhile point-of-view to any conversation.

  2. Did a 14 page written interview with Silberkleit two years ago. Archie as a company is quite fascinating and comic book readers should pay a lot more attention to them and their continuing successes.

    Silberkleit definitely knew the market he was involved with. He will be missed.

  3. Sorry about my previous comment. I was just shocked by this news. Michael Silberkleit was a really nice guy. I spoke with him a few times. He was always very polite and cheerful when I had the opportunity to meet him. It’s so sad when one of the good guys leaves us.

  4. My son and I went to the NY Comic Con this year on Sunday (kids day), and Archie was one of his favorite exhibits. Mr. Silberkleit was at the booth and in good spirits. We got to meet Patrick Spaziante, Barbara Slate, Joe Staton, Jughead, and Sonic the Hedgehog (they had folks in life size Jughead and Sonic suits). The Archie crew was handing out plenty of comics, and having their artists sign them. Everyone was in a cheerful mood. Rest in Peace Mr. Silberkleit.

  5. My brother works for the tech consulting group that handles Archie Comic’s electronics. Mr. Silverlkeit was a demanding customer, he tells me, but incredibly generous. When he found out our mother was a teacher of special education students, he sent a huge box of Archie books to her class. There was always a generous tip at Christmas time for him, and never nickle-and-dimed his staff’s tech. I’m not a big fan of Archie Comics (though my brother is a huge Sonic geek), but the comic industry lost someone very large with his death. I also note that Slone-Kettering, where he asked donations be sent, saved my mother from her cancer as well. So please donate in his name. I have all ready.