Marshall McLuhan was the most famous media scholar to date. His presence in the 1960s in particular was unavoidable. His books were reviewed in mainstream publications (here is Time’s negative assessment of Understanding Media). His book The Medium is the Massage supposedly sold a million copies! It was adapted into a recording, which you can listen to here. McLuhan appeared on television with some regularity — search YouTube and you’ll find many clips. When he died in 1981 obituaries like this one in The New York Times recycled his most famous phrases such as “the medium is the message,” which had become familiar through repetition in popular culture.
He has also had a robust afterlife in the digital age, as many of his writings on changing media are perceived to anticipate the internet and other new technologies. Wired magazine declared him its patron saint. In 2007 Nicholas Carr wrote about the ways McLuhan’s ideas apply to later technological and media developments. Here an NYT blog discusses his ideas in relation to the iPad and the history of print culture. Film and TV scholar Charles Acland recently defended MM’s relevance to today’s media scholarship in Flow.