Leonard B. Stern
Leonard Bernard Stern

December 23, 1922
DiedJune 7, 2011(2011-06-07) (aged 88)
Occupation(s)Publisher, director, writer, producer
Years active1949–2000
(m. 1951; div. 1953)
(m. 1956)

Leonard Bernard Stern (December 23, 1922 – June 7, 2011) was an American screenwriter, film and television producer, director, and one of the creators, with Roger Price, of the word game Mad Libs.[1][2]

Life and career

Stern was born in New York City and majored in journalism at New York University.[1] He was a Women’s Army Corps recruiter while serving in the Army during World War II.[3]

Stern was a successful television writer who wrote for such now classic series such as The Honeymooners, The Phil Silvers Show,[1] The Steve Allen Show,[1] Tonight Starring Steve Allen and Get Smart (a program on which he served as executive producer). Stern created the signature opening door credits for Get Smart.[4]

Stern was also a writer for the 1952 Danny Thomas and Peggy Lee version of The Jazz Singer and a few Abbott and Costello films (with Martin Ragaway), among others. In the 1970s, he produced and directed the TV series McMillan & Wife, which starred Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James.[2]

Stern was the senior vice president of Price Stern Sloan (PSS). In 2000, after Price's death, Stern and another partner, Larry Sloan, launched another publishing company, Tallfellow Press, and acquired the rights to Droodles. Stern co-wrote, with Diane L. Robison, A Martian Wouldn't Say That (2000), a compilation of actual memos and notes from television executives.[5]

Early in his career, when he wanted to write feature films on his own, he had trouble finding work. When he finally got the assignment for Let's Go Navy! he adopted the pseudonym "Max Adams" because he "wasn't particularly proud of doing a Bowery Boys [film]".[6]

Personal life

Stern was married twice. His first marriage was in 1951 to actress Julie Adams. The marriage ended in divorce two years later in 1953. In 1956, Stern married actress Gloria Stroock, to whom he remained married until his death. The couple had two children, Kate and Michael.[7][8]


On June 7, 2011, Stern died of heart failure at his home in Beverly Hills, California, aged 88.[1] He was survived by his wife of 55 years, actress Gloria Stroock, as well as a son, daughter, two grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter.[1] Funeral services were held at Mount Sinai Memorial Park.[9]

Selected film and television credits




  1. ^ a b c d e f Fox, Margalit (June 9, 2011). "Leonard B. Stern, Creator of Mad Libs, Dies at 88". The New York Times.
  2. ^ a b "Penguin Group website".
  3. ^ McLellan, Dennis; Times, Los Angeles (June 9, 2011). "Leonard Stern dies at 88; TV writer, producer also co-created Mad Libs". Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ Stern, Leonard (23 October 2017). "Leonard Stern - Archive Interview Part 7 of 9". televisionacademy.com. Interviewed by Gary Rutkowski; Jenni Matz. Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Event occurs at 9:50 ("Leonard Stern on the famous opening sequence of Get Smart; the nuances of the original idea"). Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  5. ^ Stern, Leonard B. (2000). A Martian Wouldn't Say That. Tallfellow Press. ISBN 0967606152.
  6. ^ Writers Guild Foundation, (video; starts at 9:20 minutes). "The Writer Speaks: Leonard Stern (interview)". Youtube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-19. Retrieved 21 September 2020.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ Notice of Gloria Stroock/Leonard Stern marriage, nytimes.com; accessed August 22, 2014.
  8. ^ Obituary for Leonard B. Stern, foxnews.com; accessed August 22, 2014.
  9. ^ McLellan, Dennis (June 9, 2011). "Leonard Stern dies at 88; TV writer, producer also co-created Mad Libs". Los Angeles Times.