Mell’s Piano

May 22nd, 2009 | Posted in General

The Lovely Anna and I are settling in here in Los Angeles for the Reuben Awards weekend, which officially gets started today. This year I have been elected to the NCS board as a vice president, so last evening we attended a dinner and get together for board members at the nearby home of cartooning legend Mell Lazarus (Momma and Miss Peach)

Mell is an amazing guy, who not only created the two long running strips listed above, but authored two successful novels, writes television scripts and plays, and is a member of Mensa. At 81 he can still out-party me.

Mell and his wife Sally have a beautiful home outside Los Angeles, and in it is one of cartooning’s most treasured artifacts… and I don’t mean Mell. I mean Mell’s piano. Many years ago Mell and Sally decided to buy a baby grand piano, and got a good deal on a small white one that needed refinishing. Instead of refinishing it, they invited cartoonists to draw on it. The result is an incredible piece of art with hundreds of cartoonist’s doodles and signatures on it in their living room:

The Piano!

Some Great Art!

Mell's Piano

Jerry Robinson!

The late Dave Berg

Sparky, Gary Trudeau, Jack Davis!

I was honored to be asked to draw on it as well, which instantly lowered the value of the piano but Mell insisted.

Me drawing on the piano

My unworthy contribution

Rina Piccilo (Tina’s Groove) and Dave Coverly (Speed Bump) also drew on the piano last night, so I think their¬¨‚Ć positive contributions offset my depreciation of the piano’s value and Mell broke even.


  1. Bill Karis says:

    My Jaw just dropped, as I looked at the pictures of the piano. Wow, just, WOW!!!!

  2. Beth Cravens says:

    That is too cool, so much better than refinishing.

  3. Monty says:

    That is a priceless piece of art history. That piano should end up in the Smithsonian. What a wonderful record of cartooning.

  4. CAU says:

    I want one of this!!

  5. What a treasure! Both the piano and Mel.

  6. Nate says:

    That’s really awesome! What a piano! My gosh – get that thing into a museum!

  7. Tad Barney says:

    Vice-President?? Did being on the board of the NCN teach you NOTHING man??

    I jest. Congratulations Tom!

    Hey, can you peel Schulz’s Schroeder off that piano and send it to me?

  8. Jules Faber says:

    Unequivocally the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.
    It’s far too awesome to even play.

  9. Jules Faber says:

    That is, without question, the most AWESOME thing I’ve EVER SEEN.
    I wish I could play AND I wish I could draw…

  10. That is really amazing thing to behold. I wish see every detail of it. If I got permission it would be something on the undercarriage

  11. ….just trying to say way to go Tom

  12. Elaine Mills says:

    Wonderful story. Congratulations, Tom.

  13. Chip says:

    That piano is truly priceless. Think about it. How many cartoonists are legendary enough to have the big name cartoonists from all over the world like the ones who drew on the piano-stop by and visit them at their home out in L.A. ?

  14. Just the Schroeder sketch makes the piano priceless. Adding all those other doodles makes it the 8th(or 9th, I lost count) Wonder Of The World. Bill Keane probably took the most space, but the gag was worth it 😀
    Bill Amend posted a pic of the piano on Twitter, but didn’t say how he got near such a holy object. Thanks for shining a light on this mystery AND such great pics! I’m so sharing this page on Twitter and everything else. Maybe you’ll get 2 extra visits as a result.

  15. Gerry Mooney says:

    So are you all piano tooners?

  16. […] Mell Lazarus’ house (of Momma fame) while in Los Angeles for the Reuben Award.¬¨‚Ć On his site, he’s documented how he was invited to draw on Mell’s piano.¬¨‚Ć And judging from his […]

  17. […] few folks have already linked to Tom Richmond’s photos of cartooning legend Mell Lazarus’ piano, which happens to be festooned with autographs and illustrations from some of the biggest names in […]

  18. Ike Iszany says:

    How would you like to have just that …shelf…rack.. (whatever that thing that holds sheet music is called)?

  19. Dylan Carr says:

    That’s my grandpa’s(poppa’s) piano! 🙂

  20. John Ferraro says:

    I’ve had the honor of experiencing the piano. Even got to hear cousin Cyndi play on it (without smudging the artwork of course).


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