Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"Meshugganah Villy," dies at 86

Will Elder, 86, an influential early cartoonist for Mad magazine known for his wry-to-disturbing sight gags and who spent 25 years illustrating Playboy's "Little Annie Fanny" strip, which parodied the magazine's own buxom fetishes, died May 15 at the Jewish Home at Rockleigh, N.J., a nursing home. He had Parkinson's disease. (Courtesy Of DC Comics. - Courtesy Of DC Comics.)

The son of Polish immigrants, Wolf William Eisenberg was born Sept. 22, 1921, in Bronx, N.Y.

Over the radio, he grew up admiring the Jewish humor of Fanny Brice, Eddie Cantor and George Burns and Gracie Allen. He used humor to disarm neighborhood bullies and command attention as the youngest of five children.

Relatives nicknamed him "Meshugganah Villy," Yiddish for "Crazy Willy." He once blackened the soles of his father's shoes and used a broomstick to "walk" them across the ceiling of his home. Another time, he thwarted an annoying visitor by painting a realistic door and fastening a doorknob, and the woman thrashed away helplessly at the knob

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