Bryan Burrough’s misspelling of Mad magazine’s mascot Alfred E. Neuman (as Newman) in his review of Jeff Greenfield’s book “Then Everything Changed” [“Parlor games for politicos,” Outlook, April 17] was actually not entirely wrong.
According to Frank Jacobs’s biography, “The Mad World of William M. Gaines,” about the founder of Mad, the name was inspired by film composer Alfred Newman. Radio comedian Henry Morgan used the Oscar winner’s moniker as a running gag on his show, and Mad’s first editor, Harvey Kurtzman, liked the sound “because it had the ring of a nonentity.” (This despite the fact that Newman is second only to Walt Disney as winner of the most Academy Awards). Kurtzman added the middle initial, and artist Kelly Freas painted the iconic portrait.
Dave Nuttycombe, Silver Spring