• Steven Heller

The Other Trump Was Actually Funny

The first TRUMP to make us laugh was a humor magazine edited by the satiric genius Harvey Kurtzman and published from 1956–1957 out of Hugh M. Hefner’s mansion garage (or some place just as shabby). In 2015, my colleague Michael Dooley wrote about the history of the magazine. Read it.


The pages here are from March 1957, Issue 2. The masthead was a who’s who of what’s what: Hefner, Kurtzman, Harry Chester, Will Elder, Al Jaffee, Arnold Roth, Mel Brooks, Max Shulman and other major funny men. You could say, like MAD, which preceded it (also founded and edited by Kurtzman), TRUMP magazine set the stage for the satiric TV we ingest so voraciously today. At least I think so.


Considering that someone named Donald is running for president, it is a timely moment to review some of the funnier features, if not to consider also stretching the possibility that even in 1967 there was a modicum of prescience in the use of a name that would stand in for hilarity and absurdity. That is, if the name in its current usage wasn’t such a comic-tragedy. By the way, note the Purple Heart on the ad at the very bottom. Was this a sign of things to come?

Kurtzman wrote in his “warm personal message from editor”: “Well pals, our first issue hit the stands with our ‘plea for HELP’ cover, and sure enough, you the public responded. When TRUMP #1 went on sale, with hundreds of titles to choose from you went to your newsstands … you went and picked up our magazine … and then put it down again. … Now that’s not the right idea.”


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#DailyHeller #HarveyKurtzman #StevenHeller #TrumpMagazine

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