Larry Siegel

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Larry Siegel is a writer who has worked in television, stage, magazines, records, and books. He has received three Emmys and one Writers Guild award along with a dozen Emmy and Guild nominations. He was also one of Mad Magazine's primary writers for almost 33 years.

Early life[edit]

Siegel was born in New York City in 1925. His first published work was a poem, Oh Dear What Can Sinatra Be?, which tweaked both the singer and his bobbysoxer fans, and ran in Earl Wilson's syndicated newspaper column in 1943. The verse read in part:

A quivering lip
Blaring lovesick rhyme,
Her insides flip in double time.
A slender frame with sagging knees
Yet garnering fame with uncanny ease
The stricken dame pants the breeze.
Eyes of blue, two hands alike
Stretching forth true
Lovingly to strike
Close to you? No, his mike.[1]

Siegel was drafted into the army soon after his contribution to Wilson's column. In early 1944, after concluding infantry basic training in Georgia, he volunteered for additional stateside training with the 10th Mountain Division. The 10th landed in Naples, Italy for battle in January 1945. Siegel received a Combat Infantry Badge and a Good Conduct ribbon.

After the war ended, Siegel enrolled at the University of Illinois on the GI bill. He wrote for the school humor magazine, Shaft, for two years. He became editor of the publication when his predecessor, Hugh Hefner, graduated. While at college, Siegel had stories published in Fantasy and Science Fiction and American Legion Magazine. Siegel graduated and returned to his family in New York in 1950.

In 1955 Siegel met his wife, Helen Hartman, an aide in the office of United Nations Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjold.


New York[edit]

In the late 1950s, Siegel found work as Eastern Promotion Manager for Chicago-based Playboy Magazine. Siegel started writing humorous articles and satirical pieces for Playboy, Humbug and Mad Magazine. He wrote nearly 300 articles, which appeared in more than 150 issues.[2] Siegel's output for Mad included nearly 80 movie and television parodies, over a dozen "primers," several imaginary magazine parodies on topics ranging from medicine to 1960s protesters to "gun nuts." Siegel also wrote song parodies, including several of those the Mad special issue that provoked the failed lawsuit by Irving Berlin and other composers that established certain copyright law protections that endure to this day.

In 1965, at the behest of composer Mary Rodgers and Mad publisher William Gaines, Siegel collaborated with Stan Hart on The Mad Show.


The world-wide success of The Mad Show brought the Siegel and Hart families to the Los Angeles in 1968. There, they wrote a Flip Wilson special for NBC and a pilot for 20th Century Fox producer David Gerber called Oh Nurse!

In 1970, Siegel was hired by producer George Schlatter to write for Laugh-In. He later broke contract to write for Carol Burnett with Stan Hart. The team spent three years with Burnett during which they won two Emmys and received one Emmy nomination. Siegel and Hart parted from the Burnett show and in 1974, and Siegel helped launch That's My Mama on ABC. He returned for the final season of Carol Burnett's show in 1977 and won a third Emmy.

In the early 1980s, Siegel was hired as part of a team of writers to pen a sequel of sorts to the hit LP record The First Family. Titled The First Family Rides Again and highlighting mimic Rich Little, the follow-up dealt with the life of Ronald Reagan.

During the 1990s, Siegel spent three years teaching comedy writing at UCLA before turning to acting and joining the Screen Actors Guild. He did commercials for companies including IBM and Northwest Airlines and also performed in stage musicals in the Los Angeles area.

As of 2013, he is also doing improvisational comedy, writing, and performing in sketches for shows at the Broad Theater in Santa Monica, California.


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