The Magazine

The Original Mad Man

Al Feldstein, 1925-2014.

May 19, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 34 • By PHILIP TERZIAN
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Ultimately, Mad found its voice in its parodies of movies and television, drawn by Mort Drucker and Wallace Wood, among others, and written by any number of “the usual gang of idiots” who graced its masthead. In “East Side Story,” the Cold War is depicted as a gang rumble in the U.N. neighborhood between West and East (When you’re a Red, you’re a Red all the way / From your first Party purge to your last power play). And in “My Fair Ad-Man,” the Pygmalion story is transferred to a Manhattan advertising agency where one partner (Cary Grant) persuades a skeptical officemate (Charles Laughton) that he can transform a beatnik (Frank Sinatra, complete with goatee and beret) into an account executive—a precursor, as it were, of Mad Men. 

The genius of successful parody is the marriage of fiction and truth, a keen eye to see the subject in caricature and a sharp ear to reproduce the music slightly off-key. In its heyday, Mad had it; and thanks to Al Feldstein, it still makes me laugh. 

Philip Terzian is literary editor of The Weekly Standard

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