Mad Libs Creator Leonard B. Stern Dies at Age 88
in 1953, Stern co-created Mad Libs, which has since sold more than 150 million copies. His death leaves a blank space in the world of publishing.
Text Size:A A A
Leonard B. Stern, the co-creator of Mad Libs, died on Tuesday of heart failure at age 88. Mad Libs' fill-in-the-blanks books created a new category in publishing, selling more than 150 million copies of 120 volumes.
Before creating Mad Libs with Roger Price in 1953, Stern was a TV veteran with producing and writing credits for Get Smart, The Steve Allen Show and The Honeymooners. While writing an early episode of The Honeymooners, Stern was trying to come up with a description for Ralph Kramden's boss's nose and asked Price for an adjective. Without knowing why he was asking, Price suggested "clumsy" and "naked."
Realizing they had a product idea on their hands but unable to get book or game publishers interested, Stern and Price published Mad Libs themselves, storing the first printing of 14,000 copies in Price's Manhattan apartment.
The beloved game has resonated with kids and adults ever since, and remains a timeless source of amusement even in the age of mobile tech: To date, more than 2 million Mad Libs apps have been downloaded for iPhones and iPads.