Henry Wallace resigned as editor of The New Republic magazine on this day (December 31) in 1947, to run for President of the United States on the Progressive Party ticket in 1948. He lost. Wallace had earlier served as Vice President under Franklin Roosevelt.
"The ideal magazine article should, I think, be written as if the men and women who were to read it had just dropped from the planet Mars, able to read the English language, but with minds in virgin ignorance of the field and the facts with which it deals.” — Glenn Frank, editor of The Century magazine, 1923. Frank was later the president of the University of Wisconsin.
Success Magazine failed for the first time on this day (December 29) in 1911. The 12-year-old magazine, founded by inspirational writer Orison Swett Marden, declared that its December issue would be the last.
Frank Crowninshield, editor of Vanity Fair magazine from 1913 until it was merged into Vogue during the Great Depression, died on this day (December 28) in 1947. He was 75. In her memoir "Always in Vogue," Edna Woolman Chase described how the famously gentlemanly Crownshield would reject material: "Crowny rarely saw face to face a contributor whose work he didn't want; his heart was too tender. Instead he dictated charming little notes flattering the writer on the perception and sensitivity of his piece, his wit and freshness of phrasing, and suggested he send it to the Ladies' Home Journal."
Cartooonist Thomas Nast's first cover drawing of Santa Claus appeared on the January 3, 1863 issue of Harper's Weekly. In it, the jolly old elf is seen bestowing gifts on Union troops, while dressed in what appears to be the stars and stripes. Nast is credited with creating the familiar image of Santa Claus that lives on to this day.
O. Henry, one the most famous magazine bylines of the early 20th century, first appeared over a short story in McClure’s magazine called “Whistling Dick’s Christmas Stocking.” As readers would eventually learn, “Henry” was actually William Sydney Porter, a convicted embezzler doing time at the Federal pen in Columbus, Ohio, and sending out stories under a variety of pseudonyms. With the 1898 McClure’s sale, O. Henry became the one that stuck. Porter went on to write other Christmas tales, including his most famous, “The Gift of the Magi.” Incidentally, Porter was briefly the editor and owner of a weekly humor publication called The Rolling Stone.
The character played by Barbara Stanwyck in the movie "Christmas in Connecticut" (1945) is said to have been loosely based on Gladys Taber, a well-known columnist for Ladies' Home Journal and Family Circle from the 1930s through the 1960s. In the movie, Stanwyck's character works for a magazine called Smart Housekeeping.
Starting in 1939, the eccentric but hugely successful magazine entrepreneur Bernarr Macfadden (Liberty, True Story, Physical Culture, and many others) proposed the creation of what he called "America's Night of Light." In newspaper guest editorials and full-page ads, he urged that "we light every lamp in America on Christmas Eve as America's answer to the blackout just beginning abroad." Macfadden continued to push the idea in 1940 but seems to have dropped it the following Christmas, when the December 7 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor brought the U.S. officially into the war as well.
It was on this day (December 22) in 1925 that Frank Andrew Munsey, a writer, editor, publisher, and entrepreneur who was as legendary for killing off magazines and newspapers as for starting and running them, died of a burst appendix at age 71. Among Munsey's nicknames was "The Grand High Executioner of Journalism."
Harold Ross, founding editor of The New Yorker, testified at a hearing before the New York State Public Service Commission on this day (December 21) in 1945. Ross objected to the recent debut of music and commercials over the public address system at Grand Central Terminal, saying, "If they get away with this, nobody will be able to read on any means of conveyance in the United States." A lawyer for the New York Central Railroad, which ran the train station, derided Ross's magazine as "an adult comic book." Several weeks later, the broadcasts stopped.