I remember hearing at some point that he was not an original creation from the Mad people, but didn’t realize the image went back decades earlier, if the wiki is accurate Or maybe it’s a case of convergent evolution.
That’s what I’d always heard / read, as well…that the image had been used in advertising long before Mad adopted it.
Mad certainly admits it. A couple of books on the history of Mad include many examples of that characteristic face showing how far back it goes.
Originally the character wasn’t called “Alfred E. Neuman” – that started when they became a glossy-covered magazine. It seems likely that at first they thought of him as the “Melvin Cowznofski” character they referred to many times (even arguably on the cover of the very first issue).
It goes back not just decades, but over a century.
Mad was sued by someone claiming that her father had copyrighted the image. They won the suit by showing the image was common even before her father used it.
Fun fact: the name “Alfred E. Neuman” came from film composer Alfred Newman, who was Randy Newman’s uncle.
And to bring things full circle, I was doing a little cleanup on a 1942 short titled “Winning Your Wings,” which I noticed was scored by Alfred Newman, and prompted me to look up the more familiar AEN article.
From a Mad parody of an artsy-fartsy, symbolism-laden movie:
“I love symbols! They make things seem so intellectual.”
“That’s right! Look what Alfred E. Neuman has done for Mad!”
Moved MPSIMS --> Cafe Society.
Anyone else think Scott McCreary from American Idol is the spitting image?
I opened this thread to say just that. Dead on. Poor guy. You’ve got to have a great voice to overcome a face that was a joke for decades before you were even born.
I used to own a book called The Mad World of William Gaines, which had an entire chapter devoted to Alfred E. Neuman and the lawsuits over the image.
I think that question is touched on in William Gaines’s “To Tell the Truth” appearance, but if I misremember, it is still worth watching for MAD fans.
I think Hagrid’s half brother, Grawp in one of the Harry Potter films is a dead ringer for Alfred E Neuman, too–or at least close enough.
One early Mad had a letter comparing Alfred E.'s ears with that of the then-young Prince Charles.
A month later, Mad received a letter, on written on Buckingham Palace note paper, denying it, & signed with the Prince’s initials.