Name at birth: Roger Taylor Price, Jr.Roger Price is the author and comedian who created the funny drawings known as Droodles and the popular fill-in-the-blanks game Mad Libs. Roger Price was born in Charleston, West Virginia; his father was a coal mine superintendent in the company town of Widen. After his father died in 1927, Roger went to Greenbrier Military School and then spent two years each at the University of Michigan (1934-36) and the American Academy of Art in Chicago (1936-38). While in Chicago he began to write radio scripts, eventually writing for Club Matinee, a variety and comedy program hosted by Garry Moore. From 1942-1946, Price was a writer for comedy superstar Bob Hope, even touring Europe as part of Hope's troupe in the summer of 1945. He struck out on his own as a writer and supper club comedian in New York and Los Angeles, doing an act that included sketches and patter, all with the skinny and gawky Price dressed in a tuxedo. (Columnist R.F. McPartlin once called him "a tall, lank comic whose long, loose jacket and bushy hair make him even thinner than he actually is.") Price became a popular guest on early TV shows in the early 1950s. Then he invented Droodles, the squiggly drawings with funny captions that became a popular fad. He hosted a Droodles TV show in 1954 (with regular panelists including Carl Reiner) and published books including Droodles (1953) and The Rich Sardine (1954). A few years later, with his friend and comedy partner Leonard Stern, Price created Mad Libs: a party game where simple stories took strange and funny turns as players blindly filled in nouns, verbs and adjectives. The success of Mad Libs led Price and Stern to join with their friend and fellow writer Larry Sloan in forming the publishing house Price Stern Sloan, which published Mad Libs and Droodles books along with other joke books and pop culture novelties. Price wrote many other books and essays, including the satirical treatises In One Head and Out the Other (1951) and I'm For Me First (1956) and the tart cultural critiques The Decline and Fall (1967) and The Great Roob Revolution (1969). He published a humor magazine, Grump, from 1965-67. In the 1970s Price took up acting, most notably appearing briefly with Lucille Ball in the musical Mame (1974). He died in Los Angeles in 1990 after a short battle with lung cancer.
Roger Price was married four times: to Annette Weaver (1941-42), to Bettina Lerfield (1942-48), to entertainer Anita Martell (real name: Janette Davidson) from 1951 until either 1951 or 1952, and to Japanese model Misa Ban (1960-61). All four marriages ended in divorce. With Bettina Lerfield he had two children: Roger Taylor Price III (known as Roddy, born 1943) and Sandi (born 1944)… Price Stern Sloan was sold to the publishing house Putnam in 1993; Larry Sloan and Leonard Stern later started the publishing house Tallfellow Press, which also published Droodles… Mad Libs remain in print today and their current publisher, Penguin Random House, reports that various Mad Lib books have sold 150 million copies over the years.
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