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RIP Leon Varjian

He’s never had anything to do with MST3K, but he was part of the mythos that led to it. He’s Leon Varjian, Jim Mallon’s partner in crime when he was a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He and Jim masterminded the famous “Statue of Liberty in the lake” prank, as well as the equally famous “pink flamingoes in the quad” prank.
When he died on Tuesday, he was a beloved math teacher at Midland Park High School in New Jersey.

His obit is here.

Varjian Mallon

Here’s a photo of Leon and Jim, celebrating their achievement.

Thanks to Tom Noel for the heads up, and the photo.

17 Replies to “RIP Leon Varjian”

  1. MarcusVermilion says:

    There was an article about Leon in The Bergen Record’s Local section. I was flipping through the paper while eating breakfast and I came upon the article. When I saw the “Statue of Liberty in the lake” prank I thought, “Hey! Wait a minute! This looks familiar!”.

       2 likes

  2. MSTie says:

    Damn, he sounds like the kind of person that many should aspire to be. RIP, and keep the pranks comin’.

       8 likes

  3. Kenneth Morgan says:

    My condolences to his family, to his students and to Jim.

       9 likes

  4. JCC says:

    R.I.P. That’s a really cool looking prank.

    BTW, does Jim look like the lost Van Halen brother there, or what? Maybe more Geddy Lee.

       7 likes

  5. Jay says:

    I wish I had known you, Leon. As a retired teacher and a cancer survivor I have to admire a man who could make calculus relatable, win the admiration of adolescents, be a good community citizen, and eat marshmallow cookies through all of it. A life well spent.

       5 likes

  6. Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy says:

    A rare photo of creative consultants Deepak Chopra and Jim Morrison in 1967 on the set of Planet of the Apes.

    While the “frozen” alternate set was not used in the film, the beach location version would become iconic.

       8 likes

  7. Ray Dunakin says:

    Wow, sounds like he was a great guy. RIP.

       1 likes

  8. MSTie says:

    JCC:
    R.I.P. That’s a really cool looking prank.

    BTW, does Jim look like the lost Van Halen brother there, or what? Maybe more Geddy Lee.

    And I was thinking Leon looks like Father Guido Sarducci….

       14 likes

  9. Keith in WI says:

    MSTie: And I was thinking Leon looks like Father Guido Sarducci….

    Ditto

    Sounds like a wonderful human being who had a great sense of humor and dedicated his life to helping others out. It was very nice to hear a bit about Jim’s partner in crime from his UW days. We are all very familiar with Jim’s story on this site, but it is good to hear about some of the creative partnerships that helped in some small way to contribute to our beloved cow town puppet show.

    RIP Leon

       9 likes

  10. Rosemary in Indiana says:

    Omitted from the obituary is Leon’s time at Indiana University, which was before he went to Madison. Leon was famous for his pranks while at IU. Every April Fool’s day would find him conducting the Banana Olympics, which had banana themed contests including banana shaped boats on the Jordan River, which was only a foot deep. He and his friends once dressed up as Monopoly pieces and used sidewalk chalk to color in sidewalk squares in the town square to play a giant Monopoly game. Leon gave a two-part course for the Free University in Pez dispenser loading and dispensing. He once auctioned off Ernie Pyle Hall (the Journalism building), according to the IU Arbutus “(e)phasizing its greatest assets”, he “described the journalism establishment as a ‘third rate deparment;’ a place that enjoys ‘libel, slander and wanton deceit;’ and has ‘crumby artwork and meaningless photos.'”

    Leon was a very funny man who I remember fondly from my time at IU. He will be sadly missed.

       15 likes

  11. Torgospizza-NJ says:

    When college humor had a fun and goofy suburban take on things, before everyone began to move behind the fortifications of their own racial, ethnic or ideological sub groups. When humor had a cutting, not wounding edge. NJ was lucky to have him. RIP.

       3 likes

  12. Atorgo says:

    Torgospizza-NJ:
    When college humor had a fun and goofy suburban take on things, before everyone began to move behind the fortifications of their own racial, ethnic or ideological sub groups. When humor had a cutting, not wounding edge. NJ was lucky to have him. RIP.

    No need to get racist about things, Mr. White Male Reality.

       3 likes

  13. Flag on the Moon says:

    That prank looks so very, very cool.

       2 likes

  14. Miklos says:

    Atorgo:

    If you are not being funny/sarcastic, you are being a total douche.

       3 likes

  15. Prime Minister Jm J. Bullock says:

    I don’t want to see this thread end on a downer

       1 likes

  16. Yipe Stripes says:

    yeah, Atorgo… the above post wasn’t racist. just a comment about how things change.

    nice pic and sad news. so long, good sir!

       1 likes

  17. King Corn says:

    MSTie: And I was thinking Leon looks like Father Guido Sarducci….

    Leon looks like Captain Beefheart

       1 likes

Comments are closed.