Apr 17, 2008

Happy birthday, Mad Libs!

The word game turns 50.
The madness began in 1953, with a slight case of writer's block. At that time, Leonard Stern was a writer for The Honeymooners. One day, he was puzzling over a script, stymied by a description of Ralph Kramden's new boss' nose. His writing partner, the late Roger Price, had stopped by; they were supposed to be working on one of Roger's book ideas.

Stern recalled telling Price he would be right with him.

"No, we won't," Price said. "You're in your idiosyncratic-pursuit-of-a-word mode. I could be standing here for hours. Do you want help?"

Stern admitted he did. "I need an adjective that --" and before he could define the need, Price blurted out: "Clumsy and naked."

Stern started laughing. "Because now I had a round face and a clumsy nose, or, if you will, a naked nose. And they both worked."

When Price saw the results on the page, he started laughing, too. They realized they had a great new game on their hands, but no name for it yet. So for about five years, the two single men used it as nothing more than their own party game with an ulterior motive. "We got to meet a lot of attractive ladies," Stern said.

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