Michael Silberkleit, chairman and publisher of Archie Comics for the past several decades, died August 5 at the age of 76. The cause was cancer.
Silberkleit was born April 27, 1932 in New York City. His father was Louis Silberkleit, one of the three men who founded MLJ Magazines, as Archie Comics was originally named. Silberkleit started working at Archie Comics while he was still a teenager, in the mail room. He attended the Fieldston School in New York City and then Albright College in Reading Pennsylvania. He studied law after graduating.
Silbertkleit worked in the Seventies as Treasurer at Archie Comics. In the early Eighties he and Richard Goldwater, the son of MLJ co-founder John Goldwater, bought the company from their fathers. He also served at times as chairman of the Comics Magazine Association of America (John Goldwater of Archie Comics had served as president of the CMAA for its first 25 years).
Both Michael Silbertkleit and Richard Goldwater kept true to the squeaky clean vision of Archie. When darker themes, such as drugs or terrorism were addressed in the comics, even then they were presented in such a way as to not compromise the essential optimism of the Archie franchise. Sex or nudity never appeared in the magazines. Both Silberkleit and Goldwater wanted to keep their magazines suitable for children's reading. They also encouraged the development of Archie's newer characters, such as Josie and the Pussycats and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. They also encouraged the licensing of their characters. While Michael Silbertkleit and Richard Goldwater were in charge of the company, there were two new Archie cartoons, a live action primetime Sabrina the Teenage Witch TV series, and a feature film based on Josie and the Pussycats. His death is certainly a loss to Archie Comics as a company.