He deftly mocked pop culture, politics and more for 57 years. He also wrote new lyrics for familiar songs, which led to a lawsuit from Irving Berlin and others.

Frank Jacobs, an inventive satirist who in his 57 years at Mad magazine mocked popular culture and politics, often in pitch-perfect verse and lyrics, died on April 5 in Tarzana, Calif. He was 91.

His son, Alex, confirmed the death.

Mr. Jacobs brought a quick wit, a deep well of ideas and a love of rhyming to Mad in 1957, becoming one of that smart-alecky humor magazine’s most prolific contributors, especially during the 1960s and ’70s, when it was at the peak of its irreverence and its cultural influence.

“He was the ultimate craftsman,” said John Ficarra, a former Mad editor. “He could be persnickety, for sure, but you had to respect him: He was in an endless search for the perfect word, the perfect phrase and the perfect rhyme.”

Working with artists like Mort Drucker (who died last year), George Woodbridge and Gerry Gersten, Mr. Jacobs parodied movie musicals like “Fiddler on the Roof” (which he turned into a sendup of suburbia in “Antenna on the Roof”); critiqued the policies of President Ronald Reagan in a line-by-line satire of Poe’s “The Raven”; wrote obituaries of comic-strip characters like the hapless office worker Dilbert (who suffocated from a lack of ventilation in his cubicle) and the working-class layabout Andy Capp (whose death was caused by a drunken driver); and devised Christmas carols for dysfunctional families.

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via Sam Viviano

Arnie Kogen, a former Mad writer, said in an interview: “Frank’s stuff sparkled. It was smart, classy and always funny. He was the best writer Mad magazine ever had.”

A fan of musical theater, Mr. Jacobs teamed with Mr. Drucker to turn “West Side Story” into “East Side Story,” a musical battle at the United Nations between gangs led by the United States and the Soviet Union. The Soviet premier (and gang leader) Nikita Khrushchev sang:

When you’re a Red
You’re a Red all the way
From your first Party purge
To your last power play!
When you’re a Red,
You’ve got agents galore;
You give prizes for peace
While they stir up a war.

Mr. Jacobs’s parody of the Great American Songbook prompted Irving Berlin and a group of song publishers representing the work of Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hammerstein and others to sue Mad’s parent company, E.C. Publications, for copyright infringement.

At issue was “Sing Along With Mad,” a pullout section published in 1961 that consisted entirely of song parodies by Mr. Jacobs and Larry Siegel. Among them were “Louella Schwartz Describes Her Malady” (a lampoon of Berlin’s “A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody”) and “The First Time I Saw Maris” (a spoof of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II’s “The Last Time I Saw Paris”), about the commercialization of the Yankee slugger Roger Maris during the season he hit a record-breaking 61 home runs.

He signed a contract with Gillette
To plug their razor blades.
And when he found he cut himself
He went and plugged Band-Aids!
The last time I saw Maris
He plugged six brands of beer!
The Democrats should pay him
To plug the New Frontier.

In 1964, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit decided in Mad’s favor.

In the hands of Mr. Jacobs (and the illustrator Mort Drucker), “Fiddler on the Roof” was turned into “Antenna on the Roof,” a sendup of suburbia.
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In his opinion, Judge Irving R. Kaufman (most famous for presiding over Julius and Ethel Rosenberg’s espionage trial) wrote, “The fact that defendants’ parodies were written in the same meter as plaintiffs’ compositions would seem inevitable if the original was to be recognized, but such a justification is not even necessary; we doubt that even so eminent a composer as plaintiff Irving Berlin should be permitted to claim a property interest in iambic pentameter.”

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the decision.

Franklin Jacobs was born on May 30, 1929, in Lincoln, Neb. His father, David, was a traveling salesman and owned a costume jewelry business with Frank’s mother, Miriam (Frosch) Jacobs, who also helped start a Jewish temple in Lincoln.

“Some say that as a baby I gurgled in 4/4 time,” Mr. Jacobs said in an interview for “Frank Jacobs: Five Decades of His Greatest Works” (2015), the first book in a projected series called “Mad’s Greatest Writers.” “In truth, I recall coming up with rhymes when I was in grade school.”

He graduated from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, where he edited the campus humor magazine (and slipped in some verse). After serving in the Army, as an editor and reporter for the military newspaper Stars and Stripes, he worked in a public relations firm, was the secretary to a press agent and wrote for Fishing Gazette magazine.

Mr. Jacobs was bored and looking for direction when he bought the April 1957 issue of Mad, whose cover image was of Alfred E. Neuman, the magazine’s gaptoothed mascot, on the wall of an Egyptian tomb.

“As I leafed through the pages, I realized I’d found what I didn’t know I was looking for,” he was quoted as saying in the 2015 collection of his work. He called the magazine’s office in Manhattan and met with its publisher, William M. Gaines, and editor, Al Feldstein, and pitched his ideas.

They were quickly embraced. The June 1957 issue included several features written by Mr. Jacobs, among them “Baseball’s Hall of Shame” and “Why I Left the Army and Became a Civilian.”

It was the beginning of a long association. He wrote nearly 600 pieces for the magazine; numerous Mad paperbacks, on subjects like sports, stamps and fathers; and “The Mad World of William M. Gaines” (1972), a biography of the magazine’s founding publisher, whom he described as “the last of the great fat eccentrics.”

His last piece was published in 2014, five years before Mad ceased regular publication of new material in favor of recycling past material with new covers.

Doug Gilford

As Mad became less relevant and its circulation tumbled, Mr. Jacobs’s output slowed.

In the mid-1990s, “the new pop culture replaced the old pop culture that I was quite familiar with,” he said in a 2006 interview for The Mad Store, a merchandising website. “I really wasn’t all that interested in the new pop culture, but Mad had to be, for its readership.”

In addition to his son, Mr. Jacobs is survived by his wife, Barbara (Stellman) Jacobs.

Mr. Jacobs often returned to well-known poems for parodic inspiration. He used Joyce Kilmer’s “Trees” to decry deforestation and to lampoon George H.W. Bush during his 1988 presidential campaign, and “Casey at the Bat” to lament the state of baseball. In 1991 he turned “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” into “The Hymn of the Battered Republic.” One of the verses went:

In the alleys of our cities where the poor and homeless dwell,
You can see the victims dying from the crack that pushers sell,
While the bankers launder money from the Medellín cartel —
The crime keeps marching on!