Archive for the ‘The Magazines And I Book’ Category

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True, Detective, And Confessions Magazines: The Magazines And I. Chapter 8, Part 2.

June 17, 2021

True, Detective, and Confessions Magazines … is the 8th chapter from the serialized book I am writing on the magazines of 1953, specifically March 1953, the month I was born.  This is chapter eight, part two.  Feel free to back track for chapters one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven in previous blogs.  Enjoy.

FRONT PAGE DETECTIVE

In 1921, George T. Delacorte, Jr., founded the Dell Publishing Company with the intent of entertaining readers dissatisfied with the genteel publications of the time. Known more for puzzle magazines, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen’s Mystery MagazineAsimov’s Science Fiction, and Analog Science Fiction and FactFront Page Detective was still in the mystery genre, but had more of a “true crime” feel and look.

The March 1953 issue offered up a very beautiful redhead on the cover with the line: Necklace of Death for Rosamond. With ads galore and stories as murderously sensational, the magazine fit right in with the crime drama sections of newsstands.

HEADQUARTERS DETECTIVE

Published by Hillman Periodicals, who were also known for their true confession and true crime magazines, and for the long-running general-interest magazine Pageant, Headquarters Detective was another “true” crime title. Competing with MacFadden and Fawcett, Hillman put out titles such as true confessions magazines (Real Story, Real ConfessionsReal Romances) and crime magazines (Crime DetectiveReal DetectiveCrime Confessions).

The April 1953 issue had cover lines such as Honeymoon of Horror and My Girl’s Being Murdered and offered 16 extra pages, with a very voluptuous blonde woman on the cover. A photograph made to look like an illustration, of course, the 1953 cover was striking, while the cover lines were definitely alluring. 

INSIDE DETECTIVE

Another Dell publication, Inside Detective fell into step with Front Page Detective and the other “true crime” titles on the market. 

The March 1953 issue proclaimed: She Was A Kiss and Tell Killer and had a young woman with a glass of alcohol sitting at her elbow on the cover. The magazine had professional models within the pages, yet had the same sense of “true crime” style throughout.

MANHUNT

Launched in January 1953 as a monthly digest, it played briefly (from March 1957 to May 1958) with a larger format to enhance newsstand sales. However, that wasn’t successful, and it soon went back to its digest size and shortened its frequency to bimonthly. The magazine ran for almost 15 years and brought on a succession of reprints, from the U.K. to Australia.

The March 1953 issue had a fantastic cover with a wide-eyed woman, fear plain in her gaze, and a man’s hand heading for her throat, with no cover lines, but a list of magnificent authors. From Mickey Spillane to Craig Rice and stating every story new, the issue may have been digest-sized, but it was chocked full of great content, including a serial by Mickey Spillane called “Everybody’s Watching Me.”

MASTER DETECTIVE

Master Detective was one of Bernarr MacFadden’s publications and was a sister title to MacFadden’s highly successful True Detective. These titles appealed to the same working class audience as its pulp fiction competitors, and became very popular with audiences. The March 1953 cover of Master Detective has a wide-eyed woman with flaming red hair above a cover line that reads “Beautiful, But Deadly. She had a way with men, a gun to back it up.” Apparently, women were deadly creatures in March 1953. In the world of true crime magazines anyway.

The magazine itself is filled with stories about women with evil intent and the men they intended to bestow that evil upon. True? Possibly. Within the genre, True Detective was regarded as the standard bearer of quality and reliability. Maybe its sister Master Detective followed suit.

STARTLING DETECTIVE

Startling Detective is another Fawcett Publication and makes a play for real life mystery stories by using actual photographs as its illustrations. The March 1953 issue contains 10 true features including Two Telegrams From A Corpse and Fickle Fiancée and Murder. And of course, all the stories lend well to illustration. The actual photographs coupled with the very good illustrations make this magazine a definite standout. 

To be continued…

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True, Detective, And Confessions Magazines 1953. The Magazines And I: Chapter 8, Part 1

June 10, 2021

True, Detective, and Confessions Magazines … is the 8th chapter from the serialized book I am writing on the magazines of 1953, specifically March 1953, the month I was born.  This is chapter eight, part one.  Feel free to back track for chapters one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven in previous blogs.  Enjoy.

Confession magazines were a staple of March 1953. And “truth” be told (pun intended) they’re still on  newsstands today, just not as plentiful. True Story was the first of the confessions magazine genre, having launched in 1919. With the tagline Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction, the magazine set out to prove just that. 

True Story was published by Bernarr MacFadden, of Physical Culture fame. The magazine was actually MacFadden’s wife’s idea. According to Mary MacFadden’s memoir of she and Bernarr’s life together, Dumbbells and Carrot Sticks, “Broken-hearted women sent [MacFadden’s Physical Culture magazine] letters after they had done two hundred knee bends, twice a day, and thrown away their corsets, only to find that the Greek gods wouldn’t give them a tumble. These are true stories…Let’s get out a magazine to be called True Story, written by its readers in the first person.”

Originally, the magazine was just what it professed: true stories sent in entirely by readers. Mary did confess that clergymen were brought in to censor the stories somewhat and give them a sense of decency according to the times. But as far as fact-checking to make sure the stories were in fact “true,” there was no proof of that. 

In fact, MacFadden had become embroiled in a feud with Anthony Comstock, who founded the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice because of his  “Monster Physical Culture Exhibition” showing men and women exercising in leotards. Mr. Comstock had Bernarr arrested for public indecency. The two men despised each other after that — and True Story became an attempt on MacFadden’s part to demonstrate that he too could be a guiding moral compass.

According to studies done, one by sociologist George Gerbner, there were about forty romance/confession magazines on the market by the year 1950, with a circulation of about sixteen million. These titles were sold for the most part in small southern and Midwestern towns with females of course the target audience. These magazines were the entertainment and sustenance for many of these small town women, dealing with taboo issues such as pre-marital sex, illegitimacy, adultery, unemployment, social relations, and crime, with the occasional still photo of each story’s most dramatic moments, a kiss, a temptation, and then horrible realization of what they had done and a vow to make it right.

MacFadden became so enamored of the confession/romance genre that he garnered his own Women’s Group eventually and expanded it to include: True StoryTrue Confessions, True RomanceTrue Experience, Modern Romances, and True Love, and hired writers to keep up with the demand, many male freelancers.

Looking at this genre for March 1953, let’s explore these fascinating magazines that may very well have been one the largest category of the 1950s.

CONFIDENTIAL CONFESSIONS

Confidential Confessions magazine was published under the Periodical House name, but was a part of the Ace Magazines stable. Aaron and Rose Wyn, who had been publishing pulp fiction since 1928, owned Ace Magazines, and were also well known for their comics, which they published between 1940 and 1956. Their romance and confession titles were sensationalistic and spicy, fitting the genre perfectly.

The March 1953 issue had cover lines such as No Chance To Be Good, All-Night Date and Our Marriage Became A Scandal. If a lover of confessions and romance-type magazines couldn’t get into this one, they probably needed to reevaluate the content they liked to read.

CRIME DETECTIVE

Hillman Periodicals was in direct competition with Bernarr MacFadden and Fawcett Publications. With Crime Detectivemagazine they offered up a title that vied for newsstand space admirably. Crime Detective was the longest running of all of Hillman’s “true crime” pulp titles. When it came to the content of the magazine, it was very much like all of the other true crime titles, however the cover was where it differentiated. Each issue featured a cover painting of a woman reacting to an unseen danger. It never varied.

The March 1953 issue offered up a cover line of Who Killed The Redheaded Actress and had a very beautiful woman staring back at you with a question in her brown-eyed gaze. It promised 16 extra pages and didn’t disappoint.

DARING DETECTIVE

A Fawcett Publication, Daring Detective was one among many of the magazines that Wilford Hamilton “Captain Billy” Fawcett had in his stable of titles. From Daring Detective to Dynamic Detective to Cavalier, Fawcett knew how to cater to his readers and put out magazines. 

In the March 1953 issue of Daring Detective, the cover story was Sin Slave – Murder of the Betrayed Redhead and had a very seductive redhead on the cover in minimal attire. Features included: The Kiss-Off, Out of the Deep, and The Trooper Played a Hunch. The magazine was published bimonthly and followed along the lines of the other detective titles of its time. 

DETECTIVE WORLD

Action, adventure and true crime cases, Detective World magazine put it all on the line. The magazine was published bimonthly and could sometimes ask the burning question: What Makes Gangsters Glamorous? as it did in the March 1953 issue. In this issue the magazine promised seven spectacular new crimes and three shocking exposes. Plus inside features that showed the world how the underworld worked. It was a magazine that knew it had plenty of competition and did what it had to do to remain relevant among its more widely-read counterparts. 

To be continued…

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Children And Teen Magazines 1953. The Magazines And I: Chapter 7, Part 3.

May 31, 2021

Children and Teen Magazines … is the 7th chapter from the serialized book I am writing on the magazines of 1953, specifically March 1953, the month I was born.  This is chapter seven, part three.  Feel free to back track for chapters one, two, three, four, five and six in previous blogs.  Enjoy.

OPEN ROAD

A boys’ magazine encouraging the outdoor life, The Open Road for Boys was published from November 1919 to the 1950s. The title changed to Open Road The Young People’s Magazine in 1950. The magazine was quite the motivator for young boys to get out and explore the open road, so to speak, with adventure, sports and outdoor fun prominent features. By 1949, the magazine was published by Holyoke Publishing in Massachusetts.

The March 1953 issue had a basketball ace on the cover, along with stories about hunting lions in Africa and adventure in Alaska. From swapping ideas to the cartoon contest the magazine became noted for, Open Road was a valuable part of the history of young people’s magazines, especially in the 1950s. 

SEVENTEEN

Seventeen was first published in New York City in 1944. Its mission was to provide teenaged girls with impeccable role models and all the information they needed about their own personal growth and development. Hearst Magazines bought the publication in the early 2000s. In November 2018, it was announced that Seventeen’s print editions would be reduced to special stand-alone issues only.

The March 1953 cover was splendidly “springy,” with the cover line “Wake Up, It’s Spring.” It was colorful and featured a young lady resplendent in her best Easter frock, complete with hat and gloves. The articles inside ranged from “What You Wear” to “How You Look and Feel.” There was a section called “Your Mind” for those personal thoughts and feelings; a “Home and Food” section; along with “Having Fun.” Seventeen was and still is a relevant resource for teenaged girls.

STORY PARADE

The advisory board for Story Parade magazine was impeccable. Members from the American Library Association, the U.S. Office of Education, Columbia University, and the list goes on and on, offered their expertise and knowledge on the content of this children’s title. The magazine was issued monthly, except for July and August, and had no advertisements at all, giving it the look and feel of a paperback book. The illustrations were colorful and very complementary to each of the whimsical and educational stories inside.

The March 1953 issue features a cover story about a wonderful little bear named Bruno, “The Awakening of Bruno,” by author Richard Stone. The subsequent stories and poems are just as perfect for holding a young child’s attention, while teaching them something valuable at the same time. The magazine was complete with fun-filled puzzles and games that children could relate to and enjoy.

THE GIRL FRIEND AND THE BOY FRIEND

A magazine for teenaged girls, this title was a predecessor of the dating apps of today. From dating advice to a story titled “Have You Tasted Forbidden Love?” such as the March 1953 issue features, this magazine was certainly focused on the female perspective, but offered “boyfriend” in the title nonetheless. On the March 1953 cover, a young woman with her mouth slightly opened seemed a bit breathless as she pondered the teaser lines for a story called “Love’s Seven Sins” right below her face. It was definitely a romantically-geared publication that could lure itself off the newsstand and right into a teenaged girl’s hands. 

TOM THUMB

Another digest-sized children’s magazine, Tom Thumb’s Magazine for Little Folks was published by Universal Publishing and Distribution. The magazine was  filled with pages children could color and stories that could teach them without seeming to. The magazine was written and edited by child guidance experts, with vocabulary that was carefully controlled and basic. There was a “How and Why” section, along with games and cartoons for loads of fun.

This 1953 issue was filled with 3-D action pictures and had cut-out glasses that children could use to get the full effect of the 3-D. The cover was bright and colorful and touted the magazine as 130 pages of bewitching fun for little folks. 

WEE WISDOM

Wee Wisdom is the name of an American children’s magazine, which was established in 1893 by Myrtle Filmore, one of the two founders of the Unity spiritual teachings. The magazine was published for 98 years, until 1991. The magazine’s philosophy was that children have an inherent nature that is wise and good, and that the purpose of education is to teach them how to shine their light of goodness and wisdom in the world. 

The March 1953 issue had three lively-looking children building kites on its cover, complete with a string-wrapped kitten in the middle of them. The content is filled with puzzles, games, vivid poetry and stories that entertain and educate. The activities inside range from drawing to coloring to stamp collecting. It’s a different time, a different era, but fun for children nonetheless.

YOUNG MECHANIC

Young Mechanic magazine was published by Ziff Davis, which was an American publisher founded in 1927 by William Bernard Ziff Sr. and Bernard George Davis as a hobbyist print magazine publisher. Young Mechanic was a magazine that gave young people with mechanical minds an outlet, with stories like “Faster Than Sound,” TV Is Not New,” and “Body Tips For Hot Rodders.” It was a magazine that provided blueprints for things like wastebaskets or diagrams for how to start a car when it won’t. There was a plethora of ideas and creative thinking behind each story and advice article.

The spring 1953 issue featured an illustration of a young man building his own 14-foot boat on its cover, with inside stories such as “Developing and Printing Film,” (remember film) and “How to Solder.” The magazine was a young person with a mechanical brain’s dream.

Up next, the True, Detective, and Confessions magazines of 1953. Stay tuned.

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Children and Teen Magazines Of 1953. The Magazines And I: Chapter 7 Part 2.

May 26, 2021

Children and Teen Magazines … is the 7th chapter from the serialized book I am writing on the magazines of 1953, specifically March 1953, the month I was born.  This is chapter seven, part two.  Feel free to back track for chapters one, two, three, four, five and six in previous blogs.  Enjoy.

CHILDREN’S PLAYMATE

The tagline for Children’s Playmate was “The Favorite Magazine of Boys and Girls” and with stories and poems, puzzles and riddles, pages that belonged to the children themselves, one could definitely see why it might be a favorite among children. From fun contests to things to make and do, this gem of a magazine was published monthly by the A.R. Mueller Publishing and Lithograph Company. 

The March 1953 issue was a spring edition that had a cover illustration featuring a boy and girl on roller skates, their dog, umbrellas and the ever-present March winds. There were stories dedicated to Irish skits, Irish parties and many other great stories and poems. It was a children’s magazine that offered fun activities and much, much more. 

HIGHLIGHTS FOR CHILDREN

Since 1946, Highlights for Children has been creating “Fun With A Purpose” for children of all ages. The very first issue of Highlights sold fewer than 20,000 copies, but 40 years later, Highlights was the most popular children’s magazine in the United States, having close to two million subscribers, with 95 percent of the copies mailed to homes. The magazine accepted no advertising and shied away from single-issue sales, but could be found in most doctors’ and dentists’ offices in the United States.

The March 1953 issue is an extremely “March” issue, with the cover a deep green in color and two inquisitive children staring into a telescope up into the sky. The stories are whimsical, yet have a lesson hidden beneath the magic: “A Bear Scores,” “The Eisenhower Brothers,” and “Knuckle Down,” among many others. There are many “Things To Do,” and great poetry for kids. In usual Highlights style, the March 1953 issue captivates. 

HUMPTY DUMPTY’S

Humpty Dumpty’s Magazine for Little Children has been publishing with the mission to promote the healthy physical, educational, creative, social, and emotional growth of children ages 2 to 6. In March of 1953 Humpty Dumpty the magazine was still an infant, it was issue six of this new magazine published 10 times a year by the same folks who were publishing Parents magazine. Now, the magazine is part of the Children’s Better Health Institute,  the magazine is another extension of the Saturday Evening Post Society.

The March 1953 issue featured stories for beginning readers, several read-aloud stories, along with drawings and illustrations that would bring smiles to adults, never mind the little ones. The cover featured Humpty himself plus a few of his cohorts. The masthead lists Humpty Dumpty as editor in chief. And indeed the magazine reflects the nursery rhyme character’s tenacity, good spirit and fun nature.

On a different note, the magazine offered its readers an explanation about the type of paper and binding it uses. “Humpty Dumpty’s magazine is printed on what is known as “eye-ease” tinted paper. This light green paper is easier on the eyes than white or any other tinted paper.

Out binding, called the Rumflex Binding, is designed to eliminate the use of staples. As a result, the magazine lies flat when opened, and is easier for children to handle.”

JACK AND JILL

Jack and Jill is a bimonthly magazine for children ages 6 to 12 years old that takes its title from the nursery rhyme of the same name. It features stories and educational activities, along with nonfiction, poems, games, comics, recipes, crafts, and more. The magazine has been continuously published for 80 years, and is one of the oldest American magazines for kids.

As part of the Children’s Better Health Institute, which is a division of the Saturday Evening Post Society Inc., Jack and Jill is nonprofit and has a very important mission that it strives to accomplish even today: to promote the healthy physical, educational, creative, social, and emotional growth of children in a creative way that is engaging, stimulating, and entertaining for children ages 6 to 12.

The magazine was launched in 1938 by Curtis Publishing Company and was the first thing that they had added to their portfolio since Country Gentleman in 1911.

The March 1953 issue features an illustration on the cover of a girl jumping rope, while a young boy swings it up and over for her. It would appear one or both of the children’s mother is looking on with a slight smile. To complement the cover of the magazine, the inside features rhymes for jump roping, titled Rope-Jumping Rhymes and Playground Rimbles. It’s a fun and thoughtful thing to include for the children reading the magazine. 

The stories, drawings and pictures are entertaining and educational. It’s a magazine that was a wonderful companion for the children of March 1953 and still is today.

JUNIOR SCHOLASTIC

The Scholastic Corporation was founded in 1920 and has become a top publisher of magazines for children and youth. There are many extensions of Scholastic for children which are attainable through schools, online and retail. Scholastic is an important part of children’s magazines and still very relevant and available today.

Junior Scholastic was and is focused on middle schoolers and offers a wide variety of stories and articles. The entertainment value and the educational facet of the magazine is clear (it is Scholastic, after all) and the March 11, 1953 issue is no exception to the brand’s value. The cover is filled with how people in Vermont work to make maple sugar. It’s filled with more articles explaining interesting and fun things that people from all over the country and the world know how to do. It’s a great magazine and brings back many memories for many people, even today.

MOVIE TEEN

Movie Teen magazine was a bit of  a spinoff of “Teen” magazine only about screen stars. All the teenaged stars and starlets could find themselves on the pages of this magazine. And in turn, all the teenaged girls buying it were enthralled with their favorite actors and actresses, dreaming one day of meeting them or possibly even dating them

The March 1953 issue featured actress Pier Angeli on the cover with articles written by Tab Hunter and Piper Laurie, two screen teens of the 1950s, in the cover lines. From a feature about a young Robert Wagner to a fan club registry for all your favorites, this publication had to be a young girl’s dream-come-true when it came to info on the stars of the small and large screens. 

Up next part three of the Children and Teen magazines of 1953… Stay tuned.

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Children and Teen Magazines Of 1953. The Magazines And I: Chapter 7 Part 1.

May 24, 2021

Children and Teen Magazines … is the 7th chapter from the serialized book I am writing on the magazines of 1953, specifically March 1953, the month I was born.  This is chapter seven, part one.  Feel free to back track for chapters one, two, three, four, five and six in previous blogs.  Enjoy.

Life was very different for children and teens in 1953 than it is for today’s youth. Of course, there was no Internet, no cell phones, no digital devices at all, and television was in its infancy. The effects of World War II could still be felt throughout the nation in some ways. For instance, many goods were still being rationed in the early 1950s. Sugar was rationed until 1953 and meat only came off ration a year later. So the life of a child or teen in 1953 could be viewed as rather difficult by the youth of today; if not difficult, definitely different. But for kids in 1953, it was their golden age. Rock and roll was just around the corner; crusin’ with your best girl/guy, headed for the drive-in in your parents Cadillac was on its way; and most little ones had their favorite toy, and magazines were everywhere. 

With nothing else really to entertain the youth of that era, magazines were certainly a part of their lives. Children had magazines like Highlights for ChildrenJack and Jill,  Child Life and Wee Wisdom, among others, and teens had SeventeenThe Girl Friend and the Boy Friend and Movie Teen, with many more to select from. Magazines were an integral part of young people’s lives, with education and fun activities a major part of each title’s contents. It was a time of fun, yet practicality; education, but also whimsy and interesting stories. 

In March 1953, children and teens had a rich array of magazines to choose from. Let’s take a look, shall we.

AMERICAN GIRL

From 1917 until 1979 Girl Scouts published a monthly magazine, originally called The Rally (1917–1920) and then The American Girl, with “The” later dropped  (not to be confused with the American Girl Dolls magazine which began publishing in 1992). During one point of its long history, this magazine had the largest circulation of any magazine aimed at teen-aged girls. 

The March 1953 issue of the magazine had a very impeccably dressed young teen, complete with hat and gloves, on its cover, displaying what every American teen girl wanted to look like and wear for Easter 1953. The tagline was “For All Girls” and the content ranged from fiction, nonfiction to fashion and good looks. It was a mixture of recipes, patterns and sharp-dressed young ladies promoting and selling many designer’s clothes. 

BOYS’ LIFE

Boys’ Life is the monthly magazine of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), with its target readers boys between the ages of 6 and 18. The magazine was founded and first-published in 1911 and at that time there were three major competing Scouting organizations: the American Boy Scouts, New England Boy Scouts, and Boy Scouts of America (BSA). 

The content could be geared toward older boys, but not always (hence the tagline: For All Boys) and included special features, adventure stories, Bank Street Classics, entertainment, environmental issues, history, sports, and Codemaster. Pedro was a fictional burro that was created as a mascot for the magazine.

The March 1953 issue’s cover was one of New Englanders, Ohioans and other maple sugar producers, doing what they do best: making maple sugar. The contents of this issue were many special features on scouting, gifts and gimmicks, and discus throwing, so it was a varied and diversely topical magazine. There were articles and photo features, plus many fun stories. And the magazine is still around today for boys of all ages to enjoy. 

CHILD LIFE

Child Life is a children’s magazine begun in 1922. A little something for everyone in this magazine…stories, projects , crafts, puzzles, history , advertisements, the magazine was published monthly (except in July and August) and is notable due to its very vivid stories and poetry. 

The March 1953 cover featured good-old Johnny Appleseed himself  and his colorful story. It’s fun and whimsical, two things children would notice right away. Poetry such as “The Wind is a Witch,” and stories like “Aunt Dorothy’s Mailbox” and “Guessing Games” surely provided endless reading fun and excitement. 

CHILDREN’S ACTIVITIES

Then president, Harry L. Wells writes in the March 1953 issue of the magazine: Children…our greatest asset, our greatest opportunity. Since the conception of Children’s Activities some 20 years before 1953, the Child Training Association, publishers of the magazine, believed that children were our greatest asset, our country’s greatest opportunity. And who could argue with that, even today. 

The magazine featured vivid illustrations, stories, and activities parents could enjoy together with their children. The March 1953 issue had cover work by an eminent photographer, Rie Gaddis, who held a degree in Journalism from the University of Iowa. According to the “About the Cover” segment, the image was a completely new look for the magazine, featuring a brother and sister who were on their way to a vacant lot with their homemade kite ready for flight. 

The magazine was filled with all kinds of activities and stories and poetry that would keep children entertained for hours. It was an educational title, but created in a way that no child would ever suspect that not only were they being mesmerized by tales and fun activities, they were also learning something at the same time. 

CHILDREN’S DIGEST

From Parents’ MagazineChildren’s Digest was a children’s magazine published in the United States from October 1950 to May/June 2009, after which it was merged with Jack and Jill from the same publisher. Parents Magazine Press began publishing the magazine in digest format in its early years (hence the name) until 1980 when it was sold to The Saturday Evening Post Society. 

The original idea was that it would be the Reader’s Digest for children, so it republished stories, comics and other features from magazines across the globe. The 1953 issue had an illustration of Pinocchio and his creator on the cover to accompany the story inside the magazine’s pages. There was also a story about Abraham Lincoln, a how-to on devising one’s own secret code, and a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson. The magazine was filled with amazing stories, colorful comics and everything a child might dream about in the throes of kid-dom. 

Stay tuned for part 2 of the Children and Teen magazines of March 1953 up next….

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Black Magazines Of 1953: The Magazines And I. Chapter Six, Part Two.

May 16, 2021

Black Magazines … is the sixth chapter from the serialized book I am writing on the magazines of 1953, specifically March 1953, the month I was born.  This is chapter six, part two.  Feel free to back track for chapters one, two, three, four and five in previous blogs.  Enjoy.

OUR WORLD

Our World magazine was a publication founded by John P. Davis for African Americans and was published from 1946 to 1957. Davis co-founded the National Negro Congress, an organization dedicated to the advancement of African Americans during the Great Depression. Along with Our World magazine, he also published the American Negro Reference Book, covering many aspects of African American life, present and past.

Our World was another title that promoted the excellence of African Americans, their achievements and the successful lives that many led. It covered contemporary topics from Black history to sports and entertainment, with regular articles on health, fashion, politics and social awareness. Its covers featured entertainers such as Lena Horne, Marian Anderson, and Harry Belafonte.

The February 1953 issue featured Isabelle Cooley, the beautiful actress, known for Cleopatra (1963), Real Genius (1985) and Parenthood (1989). Along with Ms. Cooley, there was an article on Joey Adams, L.A.’s top platter-spinner, and Solly Walker, St. John University’s first black basketball player. The magazine was large in size and the cover was splashed with bright colors and vivid images. It was another title that proved how important and notable people of color were and the deeply woven threads of pride and promise they made in the nation’s overall tapestry.

SEPIA

Sepia was a magazine that featured fantastic photojournalism. It was styled a lot like Look, but often compared to Ebony. It focused primarily on achievements of African Americans and was founded in 1946 as Negro Achievements by Horace J. Blackwell, an African American clothing merchant from Fort Worth. Blackwell had already founded The World’s Messenger in 1942, which featured romance-true confession type stories of working-class Blacks.

In 1950, George Levitan, a Jewish-American man born in Michigan, bought the magazines and Good Publishing Company (aka Sepia Publishing). Levitan is the one who changed the name of the magazine to Sepia from Negro Achievements, and The World’s Messenger became Bronze Thrills. He also published Heb and Jive for Black audiences as well. 

According to the magazine’s history, after Levitan’s death in October 1976, Beatrice Pringle, one of the original publisher/editor team with Blackwell, bought Sepia and continued operations through 1982. The magazine still had a strong circulation of around 160,000 in 1983 when Ms. Pringle closed up shop. Many scholars have supposedly had a difficult time researching the magazine, as its records and building were mostly destroyed after it closed.

THE CRISIS

As mentioned earlier, The Crisis was and still is the official magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Founded in 1910 by W. E. B. Du Bois, who was also a founding member of the NAACP, along with Oswald Garrison Villard, J. Max Barber, Charles Edward Russell, Kelly Miller, William Stanley Braithwaite, and Mary Dunlop Maclean created the magazine to show the injustices and danger that racial prejudice generated. The Crisis has been in continuous print since 1910, and is the oldest Black-oriented magazine in the world. But today, The Crisis mostly operates online via social media outlets such as Facebook, Instagram, and through their website.

With a smaller format, The Crisis relied more on content than aesthetics. The March 1953 issue, while not distinctly eye-catching, definitely makes up for its lack of outer resplendence with the articles within its covers. From “Mugo-Son-Of-Gatheru,” a story about the Kenyan writer who left  his home on the Kikuyu Reserve when he was a teenager, to “American-Panamanian Relations,” the articles are on point for the times and substantive. It’s a magazine that shed much light on the plight of people everywhere.

Looking at these great ethnic magazines of March 1953, we see a definite foundation for all of the mainstream titles we have today in the genre. And while many have gone and some have been reborn in different formats, the fact remains that ethnic magazines played a major role in the early history of magazines, especially in March 1953.

Up next, we take a look at the Children magazines of that era. Stay tuned.

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Black Magazines Of 1953. The Magazines And I: Chapter Six, Part One

May 13, 2021

Black Magazines … is the sixth chapter from the serialized book I am writing on the magazines of 1953, specifically March 1953, the month I was born.  This is chapter six, part one.  Feel free to back track for chapters one, two, three, four and five in previous blogs.  Enjoy.

Changing the narrative. That’s what Black magazines did in March 1953. From Ebony to Jet, the African American community began to see themselves in the pages of magazines devoted to their culture and their lifestyle. It was an eye-opening time for Black publishing. And the major leader of the movement was the man who started Ebony and Jet, John H. Johnson. Johnson was a man born to a suppressive demographic, but rose above it to become a force to be reckoned with in the world of publishing. 

Along with Johnson, a Jewish-American man born in Michigan, who was a plumbing merchant in Fort Worth, came onto the scene in 1950, George Levitan. Levitan bought the magazines Sepia and The World’s Messenger from an African-American clothing merchant from Fort Worth, Horace J. Blackwell. The difference between Levitan and Blackwell? Levitan was white. But could a white man tell the black man’s story during a time of segregation in America? And truth be told, while Blackwell’s mother had been Black, his father was white. So two men on the same journey, but with very different perspectives on the subject matter.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded long before March 1953; February 12, 1909 to be exact, but the organization contributed greatly to the world of magazines. W. E. B. Du Bois’s The Crisis was the official magazine of the NAACP, still is as a matter of fact. The magazine has been in continuous print since its inception in 1910.

The publications highlighted display the importance and solidarity of Black magazines in the 1950s, March 1953 specifically. The magazines’ common interest was apparent, no matter what conversation they chose to engage in. From the positivity of a magazine like Ebony, to the call for action, social justice and an end to violence against Blacks as The Crisis often presented, Black magazines brought attention to the lives of African Americans.

Let’s delve into a few of the Black magazines that were in existence in 1953:

EBONY

John H. Johnson’s premier magazine that focused on news, culture, and entertainment for African Americans, Ebony was founded in 1945 in Chicago. The magazine showcased positive stories in a life-affirming manner. From celebrities to politicians to sports figures, the magazine’s format was patterned after Life and sought to show the accomplishments of African Americans more than anything negative going on in their lives at the time. 

The magazine flourished for many years, changing its direction during the 1960s to cover more and more of the Civil Rights Movement, even garnering Ebony photographer Moneta Sleet Jr. a Pulitzer with his photograph of Coretta Scott King and their daughter Bernice attending Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral.

The magazine reached unprecedented levels of popularity, reaching over 40% of the African American adults in the United States during the 1980s. Unfortunately, the publication went bankrupt in July 2020, but was purchased for $14 million by Junior Bridgeman in December 2020. It was reborn digitally on March 1, 2021 with no plans to return in print. 

The March 1953 issue featured Nat King Cole and his second wife Maria on the cover asking the question: “Are Second Marriages Better?” The piece was written by Cole himself and had many personal at-home photographs that the singer provided for the story, enriching the piece tremendously for fans. 

Along with Cole on the cover, the stories ranged from “Negroes Taught Me To Sing” by Caucasian singer Johnnie Ray to an article about a Park Avenue doctor who was an African American psychoanalyst with some very swanky New York clientele. 

The March 1953 issue was epic in size and content and is definitely a collector’s dream. Showcasing these amazing Black achievers was something that Ebony reveled in and did extremely well throughout its long lifespan. It was a magazine that paved the way for many ethnic publications after it, including its sister publication Jet.

JET

Jet was a weekly magazine that was another John H. Johnson publication. It too focused on news, culture, and entertainment related to the African American community, just as Ebony did. The magazine was founded in November 1951 and was originally titled “The Weekly Negro News Magazine.”

The differences between Jet and Ebony, other than the frequency, was their size. While Ebony was a large, coffee table-sized magazine, Jet’s format was smaller and digest-sized and it was printed almost entirely in black and white except for its cover’s background. According to the magazine’s early history, John. H. Johnson called his magazine “Jet” because he wanted the name to symbolize “Black and speed.” Jet covered the Civil Rights movement extensively and gained national attention when it published photographs of Emmett Till’s body after his death in 1955.

Two March 1953 issues, March 5 and March 26 respectively, had singer Jean Parks and singer Dinah Washington on each of its covers. With cover lines such as “Does Liquor Stimulate Sex” and “Has Sugar Hill Gone To The Dogs?” the magazine showed a diversity in subject matter that always intrigued. 

In May 2014, the publication announced the print edition would be discontinued and transitioned into a digital format. But Jet and Ebony were sold in 2016, only to be bought again in the $14 million Junior Bridgeman deal with Ebony, with a promise to return digitally in June 2021.

OUR SPORTS

Edited by the great Jackie Robinson, Our Sports magazine was touted as “The Great New Negro Sports Magazine,” and was published in 1953. It ran for a total of five issues. It featured top African American sports stars on the cover, such as Larry Doby, Monte Irvin, Minnie Minoso, Satchel Paige, and George Taliaferro, who was the first black football player drafted into the NFL. Jackie Robinson was proudly credited in large letters on the cover as the editor of the magazine. It was a publication totally devoted to the Black athletes of the time, who were becoming more crucially involved in all major sports. 

With stories such as “Will The Yankees Hire A Negro Player?” and “Why Are Negro Stars Still Buried in The Minors?” the magazine offered a different take on sports and athletes and just who made up these important teams.

To be continued…

*Please note that some of the background historical data about the magazines were taken from Wikipedia…

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Men’s Lifestyle Magazines 1953. The Magazines And I. Chapter Five. Part Two

September 25, 2020

Chapter Five, Part Two

Men’s Lifestyle Magazines … is the fifth chapter from the serialized book I am writing on the magazines of 1953, specifically March 1953, the month I was born.  This is chapter five, part two.  Feel free to back track for chapters one, two, and three in previous blogs.  Enjoy.

 

ESQUIRE

Esquire was founded in 1933 by David A. Smart, Henry L. Jackson and Arnold Gingrich. The magazine was supposed to have a quarterly press run of a hundred thousand copies, but the demand was so high that by its second issue (January 1934) it revamped itself into a more sophisticated periodical and focused on men’s fashion and written contributions by people like Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

If you ever read the editorial statement for the first issue of Esquire you could immediately tell that it was a rebel magazine. It was a magazine that was founded in rebellion of what was going on in the marketing and advertising world as it relates to the magazine publishing field. Here are a few comments from the editorial in the first issue of the magazine (keep in mind, the year is 1933):

It is our belief, in offering Esquire to the American male, that we are only getting around at last to a job that should have been done a long time ago – that of giving the masculine reader a break. The general magazines, in the mad scramble to increase the woman readership that seems to be so highly prized by national advertisers, have bent over backward in catering to the special interests and tastes of the feminine audience. This has reached a point, in some of the more extreme instances, where the male reader, in looking through what purports to be a general magazine, is made to feel like an intruder upon gynaecic mysteries. Occasionally, features are included for his special attention, but somewhat after the manner in which scraps are tossed to the patient dog beneath the table.

Controversy had a way of touching the early magazine as in the 1940s charges were brought against the magazine on behalf of the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, alleging that Esquire had used the U.S. Postal Service to promote “lewd images.” In the end, Esquire was redeemed and the magazine continued to use the post office.

As a men’s magazine, Esquire was and still is an upscale brand that personifies distinctiveness and good taste. Since 1986, the magazine has been published by the Hearst Corporation and also has over 20 international editions. It’s published eight times per year and remains a vibrant part of the world of men’s magazines.

The March 1953 issue is oversized and coffee table perfect. The cover is a weather vane with beautiful models resting seductively on each arrow of the directions, with the blond, pop-eyed, mustachioed character named “Esky” (created by cartoonists E. Simms Campbell and Sam Berman), sitting on the very top. The character appeared on almost every Esquire front page for over a quarter of a century, depicting the refined character of the magazine and its readership. From the articles to the fiction; the pictorials to the travel and personalities, the March 1953 issue was synonymous with the title’s then-tagline: The Magazine for Men.

GENTRY

As we talked about in the introduction to this chapter, Gentry was a brilliant 1950s men’s magazine, founded by William C. Sega. It reflected the wide interests of the contemporary gentleman of that time. It was beautifully illustrated and lasted seven years during the 1950s.

William C. Segal was not just a magazine art director and designer, he was also the founder and managing director of Reporter Publications in New York City. Gentry ran from 1951 to 1957 and was an image of its founder whose goal was “to allow people to see the esthetic element that was a factor in choosing clothing.” He believed that the importance of Gentry was to make the clothing part of the fine art of living. It was upscale and incorporated surprises in each issue: booklets, limited prints, die-cuts, half-sheets, fabrics–even a flattened bag of oats to accompany a story about horses. Innovation at a time when it wasn’t necessarily vital to a magazine’s existence.

The March 1953 issue was no exception. It was beautiful, unique and a visual masterpiece. Of all the men’s magazines of March 1953, Gentry was definitely a standout. The cover was colorful and represented springtime, with flowers and a single sailboat on the cover. It was an issue that had content such as articles about spring gardening, a fashion portfolio and an interesting piece by Burl Ives on folksongs.

To say Gentry was special would be an understatement. To think it only lasted seven years is unbelievable.

TRUE

True was known as “The Man’s Magazine” and was touted as the “Largest Selling Man’s Magazine” of its time. The magazine was published by Fawcett Publications from 1937 until 1974. It featured high adventure, sports profiles and articles that depicted many dramatic conflicts, in addition to pictorials and humorous pieces.

In the early 1950s, Ken Purdy was True’s editor. At that time Newsweek described it as “a man’s magazine with a class all its own, and the largest circulation of the bunch.” The magazine inspired many books, such as “True, A Treasury of True: The Best from 20 Years of the Man’s Magazine.”  The magazine was a real stepping stone for authors like Donald E. Keyhoe, who wrote an article in the January 1950 issue that sold-out, suggesting that extraterrestrials could be piloting flying saucers. The story was redone by Keyhoe into a best-selling paperback book, “The Flying Saucers Are Real.”

The March 1953 issue cover was a colorful painting of a trio of very knowledgeable and wise looking giraffes that beckoned the reader to open the magazine’s pages and discover that manly wisdom for themselves. Inside were stories on science, sports, an “in the news” section, and true adventure stories. The magazine described itself as “The Fact Story Magazine for Men.” It was definitely a compelling read for its audience.

PLETHORA OF MEN’S MAGAZINES

From Men to Man to Man; Mr. to Modern Man; March 1953 presented a host of men’s magazines designed to show the male of that generation adventure and excitement. After World War II, magazines for men took on a new direction, one of rugged heroes and bold adventures with males who could take out a Nazi in one swipe of their bowie knife or handle a vicious animal encounter with one hand tied behind their back. Men’s true adventure magazines became all the rage.

The cover art on these titles were oftentimes lurid and could be gratuitously violent or harrowing. For example on the cover of the March 1953 issue of Men, published by Zenith Publishing, the cover depicts a sinking military ship that apparently hit an iceberg, with men jumping overboard and some drowning. The cover lines were: “I Escaped from Little Alcatraz” and “Wichita – Wide-Open and Wicked.”

Real – the exciting magazine for men – the March 1953 cover art featured a big game hunter, rifle pointed, treeing a huge leopard, obviously going in for the kill. In today’s world, that kind of implication would do many things, but selling a magazine would not be one of them. The times were different, the magazines designed for men and their “true” adventures were many times based on what readers feared, but always conquered in the pages of these magazines.

Then there were magazines like Mr.  – Mister…To You, published by Mr. Magazines Inc. The cover of the March 1953 issue was a cartoon caricature of a soldier and a ticket girl, who was wearing a very revealing swimsuit that promoted her ample bosom, with the soldier’s hand placed carefully on her tiny waist. This ran column-like on one side of the cover, while the other side featured a smaller image of Rocky Marciano  and writer Charley Goldman, and an image of fashion model, Barbara Barkin, exotically decked out.

Between the humorous caricatures and the wildly perilous covers and content of the adventure titles, many of the March 1953 men’s magazines consisted of busty females, dangerous adventure, heroic feats and downright over-the-top stories. But one thing they all had in common was they were never boring.

BODYBUILDING

The pioneers of bodybuilding were featured in magazines like Iron Man, Tomorrow’s Man, and Muscle Power. Iron Manwas founded in 1936 by two Nebraska natives, Peary Rader and his wife, Mabel Rader. In the early 1950s, Iron Man was the first weight-training publication to show women working out with weights as part of their overall fitness regimen. The magazine  even presented a pregnant woman training with weights, thus educating readers on the benefits of exercise during pregnancy; thoroughly modern concepts certainly decades ahead of their time.

Many of the bodybuilding titles also served another audience that they may or may not have been aware of. At a time when being gay was not something talked about openly, magazines were still exploring their parameters. Some men’s health or fitness magazines, titles such as Muscle Power and Muscle Man were magnets for a gay audience . Many of the readers were primarily gay men who enjoyed looking at the physiques of other men, but because of the times, publishers offered these consumers what they wanted in the form of bodybuilding.

The covers of these magazines were of very handsome men, physiques perfectly attuned with the tights they wore. Often, the men on the cover were champions, such as the April 1953 cover of Iron Man which featured Clarence Ross, Mr. America, Mr. U.S.A. and holder of several other titles. They were eye candy for some and goals for others.

As usual magazines were reflectors of society, even in March 1953. Whether many of them knew it or not. The wisdom we can learn from these earlier titles is crucial when looking to the future of the magazine industry. As they say: you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.

Speaking of wisdom, in the next chapter we’ll get a little “Wee Wisdom” from some magazines that educated and enlightened the children and teens of March 1953. Let’s read on and see…

To be continued…

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Men’s Lifestyle Magazines 1953… The Magazines And I, A Serialized Book. Chapter Five, Part One

September 18, 2020

Chapter Five, Part One

Men’s Lifestyle Magazines … is the fifth chapter from the serialized book I am writing on the magazines of 1953, specifically March 1953, the month I was born.  This is chapter five, part one.  Feel free to back track for chapters one, two, and three in previous blogs.  Enjoy.

In 1951, Hugh Hefner landed a job as a copywriter at Esquire; this was two years before he launched Playboy. The first issue of Playboy was launched in December 1953. It was 44 pages and had a 50 cent cover price. Esquire was being published at that time for the same cover price, but was over large-size 280 pages. When Hef started Playboy,  many believe he used Esquire as a planogram of what a men’s magazine should be, because in 1953 Esquire also had nudity, including a centerfold that they called “Esquire’s Lady Fair,” and was first launched in the March 1953 issue. So, in actuality, there wasn’t anything too original in Playboy when it first hit newsstands.

Now, while this chapter is certainly not just about Hef and two of the most influential men’s magazines around in 1950s, namely Esquire and Playboy, it is about the development of American men’s magazines during that timeframe. It’s about true adventure, grit, masculinity, bodybuilding, virility and ultimately, the journalistic foundation for today’s sophisticated men’s titles. It’s all about what made a man a man in 1953 (according to the content gurus of that era), and it’s about the challenges many titles faced when trying to change some of those cultural constrictions of masculinity of that decade.

The men’s magazines of 1953 were both cutting edge and deliberately predictable. There were the familiar culprits, such as the Great Outdoors, the beautiful women, and the adventure stories, but there were also magazines like Gentry,founded by William C. Segal; it was a forward-thinking, eclectic style bible, where readers would be as likely to read an article on the manufacturing of Scottish tweed as one on the architecture of the American ranch house.

So without further ado, let’s take a look…

ARGOSY

Argosy magazine began as a pulp title way back in 1882. In fact, it is credited with being the first American pulp magazine. It actually began as a children’s weekly story–paper entitled The Golden Argosy. Right before the Second World War, the magazine was considered one of the Big Four pulp magazines, along with Blue Book, Adventure and Short Stories. In December 1888 the title was changed to The Argosy.

In 1920, the magazine merged with publisher Frank Munsey’s The All-Story Magazine, resulting in a new title, Argosy All-Story Weekly. By November 1941 the magazine had switched to a biweekly publication, then became monthly in 1942.

In 1943, the magazine switched from pulp to slick paper and took a step back from its all-fiction content, expanding the idea that Argosy was becoming more and more a “men’s magazine.” Soon it became associated with the men’s adventure genre of that time. While not particularly successful, Argosy began running a new true crime column, “Court of Last Resort” in the late 1940s and 1950s and saw a substantial boost in sales.  The final issue of the original magazine was published in November 1978.

The March 1953 issue of Argosy with the tagline “The Complete Man’s Magazine” has a cover image that would have been many men’s dream getaway: pipe in-mouth, fishing pole in hand, a lone gentleman standing knee-deep in the crystal clear waters of some mountain lake, complete with waterfall behind him. This issue featured four fiction pieces, several articles, and the all-important “Court of Last Resort” offering. The departments were all about the male psyche: “Men’s Books,” “Hunting and Fishing,” “Records for Men,” and many others.

Harry Steeger was the publisher and his commentary in the beginning of the issue was entitled: “Great Hunting – Rocky Mountain Style.” The advertisements in the magazine matched the overall outdoorsy feel: ammunition, fishing lures, and the smooth taste of a good whiskey. It was definitely a magazine that exuded a certain kind of testosterone.

BLUEBOOK

Women’s service journalism  had Redbook, the men of March 1953 had Bluebook. Bluebook ran 70 years under many different titles and in fact was a brother to The Red Book Magazine and The Green Book Magazine. It was published from 1905 to 1975. At first, the magazine was aimed at both male and female readers, but eventually the title became a men’s adventure magazine, publishing purportedly true stories. The magazine was named “King of the Pulps” in the 1930s and some notables in the industry have said that between the 1910s and the 1950s Blue Book achieved and sustained a level of excellence reached by few other magazines.

The March 1953 issue had a gentleman who appeared to be dressed for the desert on the cover with a very ominous look alive in his eyes. He had a cigarette poised to hit his lips and held a shiny-barreled gun of some kind in his hand and was staring menacingly off to the side. Be he a good guy or a bad guy, he was certainly an illustration that grabbed attention.

The content was filled with short stories, articles such as “How To Make a Million Dollars” and even excerpts from adventure novels. Bluebook’s tagline in March 1953 was “Adventure In Fact And Fiction.” Maybe it was up to the reader to decide one from the other.

CLIMAX

Climax was a men’s high adventure magazine that was published by Macfadden Publications, which was owned by Pulp and physical fitness pioneer Bernarr Macfadden. The magazine also featured some of the best cover illustration art ever made. War stories – both fiction and non-fiction – were a common feature in men’s adventure magazines, as were advice and expose stories and news features specifically geared for veterans and active duty serviceman.

The March 1953 issue of Climax was its premier issue, Vol. 1, No. 1. The cover was an illustration of a mercenary type, complete with drapes of bullets banded across his chest and a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. The cover lines were stories such as “Chain Gang for the Klan!,” “I Hitchhiked Around the World,” and “Time Check for Control.” The magazine’s content had fiction, crime, war, a department called “For the G.I.,” and other articles and shorter fiction following the same wildly machismo-type stories.

Climax added another facet of “True Adventure” and hardcore action to the men’s magazines of March 1953. And the genre welcomed it.

COUNTRY GENTLEMAN

The Country Gentleman was an American agricultural magazine founded in 1852 in Albany, New York, by Luther Tucker. Tucker also started Genesee Farmer in 1831, which merged with The Cultivator, and was then merged into The Country Gentleman. When the magazine was sold in 1911 to Curtis Publishing, the title began to focus on the business side of farming, which was mostly ignored by the agricultural magazines of the time.

By 1955, The Country Gentleman was the second most popular agricultural magazine in the U.S., with a circulation of 2,870,380. The same year it was purchased by, and merged into, Farm Journal, an agricultural magazine with a slightly larger circulation.

The March 1953 issue was filled with everything a farmer of that era needed to know. The cover was alive with black cows all-in-a-row, farmers considering those bovine, and a red brick barn in the background. Inside were the magazine’s regular features, such as “Country Gentleman Salutes,” “Letters,” “Today,” and other topics of interest.

There were general articles: “Better Stick With Those Beef Cows,” “Triple Your Pasture Yields,” and “Cheap Way To Banish Mud Roads,” among others, one story of fiction and many other items of interest.  Weed control was broached and the advertisements were endemic to the content: tractors, lawn mowers, and cigarettes. We all know it was healthier to smoke in the ‘50s, at least according to the ads.

The Country Gentleman was a magazine that did its job. It handled the everyday life of the agricultural farmer and offered him advice, solutions, and education about new farm implements or anything that was innovative at that time for the land.

To be continued…

 

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The Magazines And I. Women’s Service Journalism Magazines. Chapter Four, Part Three.

September 11, 2020

Chapter Four, Part Three

Women’s Service Journalism Magazines … is the fourth chapter from the book I am writing on the magazines of 1953, specifically March 1953, the month I was born.  This is chapter four, part three.  Feel free to back track for chapters one, two, and three in previous blogs.  Enjoy.

OTHER WOMEN’S SERVICE MAGAZINES OF MARCH 1953

The Seven Sisters weren’t the only women’s magazines out there in March 1953 serving the women of the nation. There were titles such as Everywoman’s and Today’s Woman; The American Magazine and Better Living; Cosmopolitan and Mademoiselle; and Woman’s Home Companion. Let’s look at these great titles individually.

BETTER LIVING

In 1951, McCall Corporation began publishing Better Living magazine. The 100-page monthly magazine sold for five cents, and was distributed through stores that were members of the Super Market Institute. It ceased publication in 1956. The magazine was filled with recipes, tips on child care, fashion and beauty and many other topics of interest for women.

The March 1953 cover was of two adorable kittens staring into the camera lovingly. The magazine served its audience that month with articles such as breakfast pep-ups, better homework from your child and short stories that offered engaging fiction, as well as tips on what to do before you buy a house.

COSMOPOLITAN

Cosmopolitan is of course still being published today. The magazine began as The Cosmopolitan and was first published in March 1886. It began as a family magazine and was later transitioned into a literary title, only to become a women’s magazine in 1965 when the infamous Helen Gurley Brown became its editor in chief. Today, the magazine is known for its sexually explicit cover lines and bikini-clad cover models.

The March 1953 issue’s cover was a bit more sedate in style. Then Broadway actress Vanessa Brown graced the cover in a red velvet dress and very extravagant jewels, complete with formal elbow-length white gloves. The cover lines then were also more placid, such as “Queen Elizabeth’s Man,” “Are Modern Mothers Misled,” and “A World-Famous Art Collection.”

The masthead of the March 1953 issue had John J. O’Connell as editor and service articles like “What’s New In Medicine” and “The Cosmopolitan Look.” The magazine has certainly evolved with the times, but the vintage issue from March 1953 shows a definite class and style that stands out greatly.

EVERYWOMAN’S

With the tagline: The Woman’s Guide to Better Living, Everywoman’s was a monthly magazine published by Everywoman’s Magazine, Inc. starting in the 1940s. The magazine was eventually absorbed by Family Circle in 1958, which then published it as Everywoman’s Family Circle through 1962 before reverting to its original name.

The March 1953 issue had an endearing cover of a baby glancing out at you with one blue eye, the other being covered up by his arm. Inside the covers was articles on food, fashion, homemaking and of course, the wonderful fiction the era was known for. Regular features were also prevalent, from “Everywoman’s Woman” to “Where’s That Pot of Gold.”

MADEMOISELLE

Mademoiselle was first published in 1935 by the New York publisher Street & Smith. It was eventually acquired by Condé Nast Publications. Mademoiselle was known as a fashion magazine and for publishing short stories by famous authors like Truman Capote and William Faulkner, among many others. The August 1961 “college issue” of Mademoiselle included a photo of UCLA senior class president Willette Murphy, who did not realize she was making history as the first African American model to appear in a mainstream fashion magazine.

In the 1960s, the magazine focused on making itself more aimed at the “smart young woman.” The magazine ceased publication in November 2001.

The March 1953 issue had a very smartly-dressed model for her era on the cover standing in front of a typewriter. The dress she is wearing is a box-pleated shirtdress, tailored and simply cut. It’s a very arresting cover. The articles inside are quite hefty on fashion and health and beauty. But there is fiction, jobs and futures, and a section known as the “College Board.”

THE AMERICAN MAGAZINE

The American Magazine was a periodical that was founded in June 1906. The magazine’s original title was Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly and actually began publication in 1876. It was renamed Leslie’s Monthly Magazine in 1904, and then was renamed again as Leslie’s Magazine in 1905. It became The American Magazine in June 1906 when journalists Ray Stannard Baker, Lincoln Steffens and Ida M. Tarbell left McClure’s to help create it. The magazine focused on human interest stories, social issues and fiction. It folded in 1956.

The March 1953 issue was chocked full of women’s interest stories, such as “Should You Marry Your Soldier – Or Wait?” and “The Matchmaker.” The cover is hilarious as a seemingly naked man sits in the tub beneath dripping nylons and other female unmentionables, all entirely drawn in cartoon fashion, of course. There’s romance stories, novels, and articles that inspire and inform. A great magazine, gone but not forgotten.

TODAY’S WOMAN

Today’s Woman, with the tagline “For Young Wives,” was published by Fawcett Publications and became only one of many in the company’s hoard of successful titles. Fawcett published magazines such as Family Circle, Hollywood, Motion Picture, Movie Story, and many, many others.

The magazine provided helpful information for young wives when it came to their children, their homes and according to one article in the March 1953 issue, their very own worth: “Your Cash Value As A Wife.” That month’s cover was of a lovely two-story red painted home with a manicured lawn and the cover line “A Real Fun Story,” with a top cover line that read “Boy or Girl? How Your Doctor Can Tell Before Birth.” No sonograms in those days.

WOMAN’S HOME COMPANION

Woman’s Home Companion was published from 1873 to 1957. The magazine became highly successful and had a circulation of more than four million during the 1930s and 1940s. The magazine went through editor and editorial changes over the years, giving into some influence of the muckraking journalism of the times, but pushing toward becoming more of a general interest magazine. Eventually, there was coverage of art and music, architecture, books in addition to the regular departments dealing with fashion and the home. The Woman’s Home Companion came to an end January 1957, shortly after the first 1957 issues were distributed, owned then by Crowell-Collier Publishing, the same people who published Collier’s.

The March 1953 issue had a very bright-eyed model with a stylish-for-the-times hairdo above the cover line: “Try Our New Hairdos.” The other cover lines were a mixture of celebrity: “Gracie Allen’s Own Gay Story, Inside Me” and “Can Love Survive Mixed Religion in Marriage?”

The content went from fashion to home service. And the fiction was aimed at women and romance. The  magazine was oversized and definitely made its presence known.

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Women’s service magazines were and still are an important part of magazine publishing and always will be. They provide relevant and useful information that never goes out of style.

Next up, in Chapter Five, we’ll be looking at the men’s magazines of March 1953. Some may surprise you!

 

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