Boomers Lose More Cultural Influencers

In the past week, several deaths were announced where each had contributed considerably to boomer culture. In particular, Lee Iaccoca and Arte Johnson passed away, and it was announced that Mad Magazine would cease publication.

Lee Iaccoca ( October 15, 1924 -July 2, 2019)

As chairman of Ford Motor Company, Mr. Iacocca was instrumental in creating the Ford Mustang, introduced at the 1964 World’s Fair. Later, he produced the Ford Escort. Mister B and his siblings all owned Mustangs at one time or another, so therefore, his influence directly affected Mister B’s family. (Read: Boomers Loved the Ford Mustang)

When Mr. Iaccoca left Ford, he became CEO of Chrysler Corporation at the time the company was bankrupt. He became the on-air spokesperson (“If you can find a better car, buy it!”) and helped secure a $1.5 billion loan guarantee from the U.S. Congress to save Chrysler in the early 1980s. Chrysler paid back their loans with interest in1983, seven years ahead of schedule. Iaccoca went on to oversee the launch of the minivan and Chrysler K-cars.

The boomer era was a car era, and Lee Iaccoca was a big part of that.

Arte Johnson (January 20, 1929-July 3, 2019)

Arte appeared on dozens of popular TV shows in the 1950s and ’60s, including The Danny Thomas Show (1956); The Red Skelton Hour (1960); Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1961); The Twilight Zone (1961); Dr. Kildare (1962); McHale’s Navy (1963); Bewitched (1965); The Dick Van Dyke Show (1966); Lost in Space (1968); I Dream of Jeannie (1969), to name a few. Yet most boomers became aware of Arte from his stint on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In (1967-71).

Many boomers (including a young Mister B) imitated his comic Laugh-In phrases that made him famous: Very interesting! (dressed as a German soldier, smoking a cigarette); Want a Walnetto? (as a dirty old man approaching Ruth Buzzi on a park bench) ; and as the man in a yellow raincoat riding a tricycle, always falling over.

Arte continued to appear in a wide variety of shows, and did extensive cartoon voiceovers, up to 2005.

Mad Magazine (1952-2019)

When the President of the United States refers to Alfred E. Neuman, you know you’ve made a lasting cultural impression. However, the person he was comparing to Alfred is a younger-generation presidential candidate, who said he did not know the reference and had to Google it. And therein lies the problem for Mad Magazine, as with most magazines in the 21st century; people don’t access and read magazines today the same way boomers did. Mad will cease monthly publication after the August issue. While technically not a “death,” it can certainly feel that way to many boomers.

Mad started publication in 1952 as a comic book, then became a magazine in 1955. Mister B bought his first Mad Magazine in 1962. He was an instant fan of Mort Drucker’s superbly illustrated movie and TV satires, Dave Berg and Don Martin’s cartoons, Al Jaffee’s back-page fold-ins (1964-2017) and the Cold War send-up of Spy vs. Spy by Antonio Prohias. There was not a current fad, event or politician that escaped the wit and humor of Mad.

Were these influencers welcome in your home, boomers?

One thought on “Boomers Lose More Cultural Influencers”

  1. “If you find a better car, buy it!” – Lee Iacocca.


    Ironically, cars no longer have cigar(ette) lighters; having been replaced with phone chargers. Maybe some German cars have lighters.

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