It was on this day (October 19) in 1971 that the great picture magazine Look, circulation 9 million, ceased publication after a 34-year run. Some 5 million of its photos now reside in the Library of Congress.
"What motivates people to read magazines? Like newspapers and other forms of media, magazines act as a lens through which the world is seen. Reality as it presents itself is too confusing, too complicated to be digested and understood in its raw form." — Ernest Dichter, often called the "father of motivational research," in his 1964 book, "Handbook of Consumer Motivations."
Today (October 16) is the birthday of Noah Webster, best known for his dictionary and almost forgotten as a pioneering U.S. magazine editor, born in Connecticut in 1758. "The expectation of failure," he once observed, "is connected with the very word Magazine." Webster's American Magazine, launched in 1787, lasted for 12 issues.
Today (October 15) would have been the 75th birthday of Art Cooper, longtime editor of Gentleman's Quarterly magazine and well-known bon vivant. Cooper died in 2003 at age 65, shortly after announcing his retirement. Before coming to GQ, Cooper had edited the unlikely combo of Penthouse and Family Weekly.
Today (October 15) is the birthday of Varian Fry, born in New York City in 1907. Sometimes referred to as "the American Schindler," Fry is credited with helping some 2,000 to 4,000 people (estimates vary) escape Nazi Germany. Among them were the artists Marc Chagall and Marcel Duchamp, the scholar Hannah Arendt, and the novelist Heinrich Mann. Fry held editorial posts with a number of magazines during his career, including Consumers' Research, The Living Age, and The New Republic. He died in 1967, largely unrecognized.
"The whole philosophy of life can be summed up in two little words: Be kind." — B.C. Forbes, founding editor of Forbes magazine, in his 1922 book, "Forbes Epigrams: 1000 Thoughts on Life and Business."
The book was dedicated "To Malcolm," presumably for his son Malcolm Forbes, born in 1919, who would later inherit the editorship of Forbes and become a formidable epigram maker in his own right.
"Brann's Iconoclast does not wish to do injustice to any person or thing. Be sure that you have the facts; then write them fearlessly. Go after your man with rapier or bludgeon, as best suits you. It makes no difference, so that you get him good and dead." — a note "To Correspondents" in Brann's Iconoclast magazine, 1899.
The Iconoclast was a monthly published by William Cowper Brann, a notably feisty and opinionated editor of his day. After Brann was shot dead in 1898, his publication was carried on for a time by his widow and several friends.
"The American magazine is a national institution. It is progressive. It never tires nor stands still. It commands the services and the energies of the greatest editors, writers, and illustrators of the day. It is a magnificent monument to American enterprise, American genius, and American skill. Every issue of such a magazine is a new creation, as wonderful as a new dawn, as splendid as a new sunrise." — J. Walter Thompson, founder of the advertising agency that still bears his name (or at least his initials), writing in Appleton's Magazine, 1908.
Today is the 210th birthday of the influential early American editor George Pope Morris, born October 10, 1802. Morris was associated with a number of successful magazines in his day, one of which, The Home Journal, eventually evolved into today's Town & Country. He was also a well-known playwright and poet, his best-remembered poem being "Woodman, Spare That Tree."
Today (October 9) is the birthday of Edward William Bok, editor of The Ladies' Home Journal from 1889 to 1919 and probably the most famous, influential, and quoted magazine editor of his time. Born in the Netherlands in 1863, Bok died in Florida in 1930 and is buried at this tourist attraction. His autobiography, "The Americanization of Edward Bok," written rather weirdly in the third person, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1921.