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Death

R.I.P. Leonard Stern, Inventor of Mad Libs

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Thu, Jun 9, 2011 at 12:30 PM

click to enlarge Leonard Stern, turning everyman to funnyman since 1958
  • Leonard Stern, turning everyman to funnyman since 1958
We don't normally obit every Hollywood vet who dies a peaceful death after a golden old age in the Hills, but Leonard Stern, who Deadline Hollywood reports died Tuesday at 88 years old, transcended the film/TV industry to bestow a gift upon humanity that deserves special memorial.

Stern, it turns out, was the brains behind the best thing to happen to second-grade "parts of speech" lessons (and the '90s in general) since Miss Honey's pencil skirt: mother-[expletive]-ing Mad Libs.

An Emmy-winning comedy writer whose successes span from "Honeymooners" to "Get Smart" (no, not that Anne Hathaway/Steve Carell/"The Rock" spy-fi atrocity, you fried fool) the NYU journalism grad made many personal contributions to the worlds of writing and film, no doubt. But his swan song, the Mad Libs empire, ingeniusly relied upon the word bank in all of us.

Here, the original Libber's biography, as worded and published by the man himself in his first "Best of Mad Libs" anthology:

click to enlarge AMAZON.COM
  • Amazon.com
And here, a page from the first-ever Mad Libs workbook, released in 1958. Note the very '50s-faithful suburban housewife aesthetic:

click to enlarge ETSY
We tip our pencils today to one of the most [adjective] [plural noun] of our time. R.I.P. Leonard Stern. We're sorry you had to live to see Disney Club Penguin Mad Libs, but if it's any consolation, we the parts-of-speech fans are very much aware that "Loudy" isn't a noun, and will fill the blanks suchly.

[@simone_electra/swilson@laweekly.com]

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