Frank Frazetta's painting of Ringo Starr on the back cover of MAD (1964)

This photo of Ringo Starr reminded me of the above painting by Frank Frazetta, which appeared on the back cover of MAD #90 in October 1964. I remember seeing it when I was about 12 years old or so, and being just as fascinated by it as MAD's art director, Sam Viviano:

"The best use of MAD's back cover, for me, was as a vehicle for ad parodies, which were always so carefully put together that at first look they seemed to be the real thing. This back cover features a takeoff of the ads for Breck Shampoo which had been running for decades in magazines such as Ladies’ Home Journal and Harper's Bazaar. These ads featured pastel portraits of beautiful young women with silky long hair, rendered from 1936 to 1957 by Charles Sheldon and thereafter by the illustrator Ralph William Williams. (The campaign ended with Williams' death in 1976.) MAD's takeoff, with the headline, "Make Beautiful Hair BLECCH," portrayed — rather than a beautiful young woman with long, silky hair — a not-so-beautiful young man with long, silky hair (a novelty in 1964) — specifically, Ringo Starr, drummer for the Beatles. The portrait itself was painted with full Ralph William Williams lusciousness by infrequent MAD contributor Frank Frazetta. As an impressionable 11-year-old, I was fascinated by how a single image could be both beautiful and grotesque, precisely accurate and extravagantly exaggerated. It firmed up my ambition, already stoked by countless pages of Mort Drucker art, to pursue a career as a humorous illustrator."

Check out all the MAD staff's favorite back covers here.

The MAD Staff Picks Their Favorite Back Covers: Art Director Sam Viviano


  1. So it occurs to me that it’s probably somewhat of a rarity to find these without two vertical creases in them, since the Mad Fold-In is on the flip side of this page, inside back cover.

  2. both beautiful and grotesque, precisely accurate and extravagantly exaggerated

    Hell, far as I’m concerned this is downright photorealistic.

  3. I also remember this issue; 11 years old, living in a Breck using home, it firmed up my ambition to find a shampoo of my own!

    1. Yes, it seems there are quite a few of us that remember this ad.  Me about 12 years old then.

      1. In good old AOL style,  ‘me, too!’  I was a subscriber to and addict of MAD back in them days.

  4. One my business clients is a longtime music producer.  Among the gold records and such on the wall he has the original “sham”poo ad from Mad Magazine framed and autographed by Ringo.  He told me that Ringo was unaware of it until my friend showed it to him.

  5. Dear Marge–err, Frank, thanks for the fab painting of yours truly! I hung it on me wall! You’re quite an artist. In answer to your question, yes we do have Hamburgers and Fries in England, but we call French Fries “chips”! Love, Ringo. PS. Forgive the lateness of my reply.

  6. I remember this one!  But the issue was from the late-70s or early-80s, so it seems Mad occasionally recycled their own material.  Which is ok, I wouldn’t have seen Ringo if they didn’t.

    1.  I was wondering if they did more than one BLECCH cover. I remember seeing a parody, but I’m pretty sure I’d remember if it had been Ringo.

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