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.
"It is well known that certain kinds of food are peculiarly fitted for keeping the brain in a state of healthy activity. Many literary men here and in Europe permit themselves coffee, tea, and condiments in moderation, and for the rest confine themselves almost entirely to fish, fruit, vegetables, milk, and various kinds of farinaceous food, Graham bread and oat meal taking the lead. These articles have, by repeated experiments, been found to be the best for brain workers." — Scientific American magazine, in a short article titled "What an Editor Should Eat," 1871.
Success Magazine failed for the first time on this day (December 29) in 1911. The 12-year-old magazine, founded and edited by Orison Swett Marden, a doctor, lawyer, hotel manager, and inspirational author, declared that its December issue would be the last.
Today the last print issue of Newsweek arrived in many mailboxes, including mine, ending a remarkable run of nearly 80 years. The magazine, launched as News-Week, published its first issue with a cover date of February 17, 1933 and its last with a date of December 31, 2012. (It shed the hyphen in 1937.) The photo at right shows a copy in its original mailing wrapper, as it reached subscribers in the 1930s.
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."
A week from today will mark the 150th anniversary of the first magazine cover appearance of Santa Claus, in a drawing by the cartooonist Thomas Nast. It appeared on the January 3, 1863 issue of Harper's Weekly and showed the jolly old elf 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 an assortment 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 holiday classic, “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 popular holiday 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.
Much of the material that would go into "A Christmas Story," the classic 1983 film based on the fanciful reminiscences of radio humorist Jean Shepherd, first appeared in Playboy magazine in the 1960s. A musical version is currently playing on Broadway.
The short story that would become the ubiquitous Christmas movie "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946) made its first magazine appearance in the December 1944 issue of Reader's Scope, a short-lived title that positioned itself as a liberal alternative to the conservative Reader's Digest.
On this day (December 21) in 1945, Harold Ross, founding editor of The New Yorker, testified at a hearing before the New York State Public Service Commission. 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.