William received a cease and desist letter from Lucasfilm's legal team for MAD Magazine's parody of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980). Unknown to the lawyers, however, was that George Lucas had personally written a fan letter to MAD saying how much he loved the parody. William sent a copy of his letter to the lawyers, stating "Take it up with your boss." William never heard from them again.
The Gaines Orphanage featured in the Tales From The Crypt episode, "The Secret," is named after him.
William preferred finding restaurants that were located on downhill locations due to his weight being a strain on him.
William studied to be a chemistry teacher before going into publishing.
William's father was the publisher of the All-American Comics division of National Periodical Publications (now known as DC Comics) and was responsible for the introduction of many famous characters there, including the original Green Lantern.
William enjoyed poking fun at his EC Comics fans, often insulting them for their "poor reading choice" of his magazines, a tradition that cotinues to this day with MAD Magazine.
William allowed very little merchandising of MAD and personally approved/disapproved of potential products; he preferred foregoing profits rather than potentially giving fans poor merchandise.
William gave a lifetime subscription to letter writer Larry Stark for his critical opinions of MAD, which William valued a great deal. Stark later went on to become well-known theater critic in Boston.
William insisted on keeping the "cheap" gagline featured on the cover of MAD Magazine going by printing on low-quality paper; he even paid double when the paper was in short supply.
William did not allow advertisements to be placed in MAD Magazine during the course of his lifetime.
William was known for stopping business meetings to find out who placed long distance phone calls on the MAD offic telephones.
William allowed the name of MAD magazine to be attached to the 1980 Warner Brothers film "Up the Academy," but when the movie turned out to be a flop, he paid Warner to remove all references to the magazine from all future prints and even gave ticket refunds to for complaint letters from fans. This has since changed in the years since his death, as tv showings and the DVD for the film now have restored them, obviously due to Time Warner now owning MAD Magazine.
William kept adding more names to his place on MAD Magazine's staff page, until the end of his life, when he was referred to as "William Mildred Farnsworth Higgenbottom Pius Gaines IX Esq."
During one trip with his staff to Haiti in the 1960s, discovered there was only one subscriber to MAD Magazine there, and arranged to have everyone on the trip driven to the subscriber's house, where he presented the startled reader with a renewal card.
Trained as an Army Air Corps photographer during World War Two, but when assigned to the Oklahoma City base, was put on permanent kitchen duty as the base had no photographic facilities.
William never cared much for appearances, wearing a long white beard and horn-rimmed glasses to work throughout his later life. His artists at MAD Magazine would often draw him as he appeared and it became a very famous trademark for him.
William loved practical jokes, one time of which he put white wine in the watercoolers at the MAD Magazine offices.
William loved gourmet food and was a gourmet chef himself.
William testified in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1955, after being accused of promoting violence to children in his horror comics.
William would take every member of the "Mad" staff, every year, on a vacation with him around the world, paying all expenses out of his own pocket.
William wrote a personal apology to every letter-writer that was offended by the April 1974, Issue #166 MAD cover that featured, on a blue background, a hand with a middle finger raised with the proclamation underneath it of "Number One Ecch Magazine." The magazine itself was pulled and returned/destroyed from many newsstands and is now a hard-to-find collector's item.
William had an interest in Zeppelins, which he often had artists for MAD draw into the magazine. One MAD Yearbook (1965) even had a cut-out "build your own" MAD Zeppelin centerfold.
William liked to collect figures of the Statue Of Liberty.
William Gaines: MAD's philosophy is; we must never stop reminding the reader of how little value they get for their money!
William Gaines: Most of my major disappointments have turned out to be blessings in disguise. So whenever anything bad does happen to me, I kind of sit back and feel, well, if I give this enough time, it'll turn out that this was good, so I shan't worry about it too much.