Phil Interlandi, a veteran freelance magazine cartoonist whose work appeared in national publications ranging from Look to Better Homes & Gardens but most notably Playboy, where he was a mainstay for decades, has died. He was 78.
A longtime resident of Laguna Beach, Interlandi died at his home Wednesday of liver disease.
He sold his first cartoon to Playboy in 1955. His color and black-and-white cartoons have continued to appear regularly in the magazine.
“He had an acerbic wit,” said Michelle Urry, Playboy cartoon editor, adding that she had a batch of Interlandi’s latest submissions on her desk.
“He just ran roughshod over all the sacred cows. He didn’t care about the taboos,” she said.
New Yorker cartoonist Sam Gross, who had known Interlandi for 30 years, said: “He was really just a marvelous artist. He also really knew how to draw good-looking girls and yet make the cartoon funny.”
The Chicago-born son of Sicilian immigrants, Interlandi showed artistic ability at an early age--as did his identical twin, Frank, who later became a syndicated political cartoonist for the Los Angeles Times.
During World War II, Phil Interlandi joined the Army at 17.
He drew cartoons for The Yank, the Army newspaper, and was later a prisoner of war in Germany, a subject “he didn’t like to talk about,” said his daughter, Liza Stewart.
After the war, Interlandi and his brother studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts.
“He was a brilliant draftsman and had always been,” said cartoonist Marty Murphy, a friend who also studied at the academy. “From the time he was even in school, his draftsmanship was way above the ordinary.”
Interlandi worked a number of years in advertising before becoming a full-time freelance magazine cartoonist. A year after he moved to Laguna Beach in 1952, his twin followed.
The inseparable brothers were part of Laguna’s colorful cadre of cartoonists that grew to include Ed Nofziger, John Dempsey, Don Tobin, Roger Armstrong, Dick Shaw, Virgil Partch and Dick Oldden.
Following Phil Interlandi’s lead, the cartoonists began a midday ritual of taking a break from their drawing boards and meeting in the bar at the White House restaurant on Coast Highway.
“That was the first bar I walked into in Laguna,” Interlandi said in 1982, “and it became a habit.”
In addition to its merits as a watering hole, the White House was the ideal setting for a group of cartoonists: It was near the post office, where they could drop off their morning’s output.
For many years, Interlandi drew the syndicated cartoon strip “Queenie,” about a voluptuous blond secretary.
He also illustrated a number of books, including Art Linkletter’s “Kids Say the Darndest Things” and “I Wish I’d Said That,” in addition to Dick Van Dyke’s “Faith, Hope and Hilarity: The Child’s Eye View of Religion” and Ed McMahon’s “The Barside Companion.”
Besides Stewart, Interlandi is survived by another daughter, Carla Armstrong of Capistrano Beach; and son Joseph and brother Frank, both of Laguna Beach.
A service will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday at McCormick & Son Mortuary, 1795 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach.