Albert B. Feldstein passed away the end of last month at age 88. The memory of his work, the importance of his legacy and the effect his magazine had on me (and millions of other young people) back in the ’50s and ’60s makes me smile.
Feldstein was the editor of MAD magazine from 1956 until 1984. He was just one of a cast of creative writers and cartoonists who changed the landscape of humor and influenced a generation of baby boomers. MAD’s material was not as caustic or risque as Lenny Bruce’s or George Carlin’s, but in its own way it was just as subversive, mainly because on the surface it appeared gentler. It poked fun at American institutions (family, politics, relationships, movie plots), not by offending, but by educating and challenging the younger generation to think.
“We were telling our young readers that ‘Your parents are lying to you. The president is lying to you, Madison Avenue is lying to you,’” Feldman reflected years after he retired. Al Jaffe, another contributor, said, “MAD was designed to corrupt the minds of children, and from what I gather from the minds of people overall, we succeeded.”