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.
S. S. McClure, founder and editor of McClure's, at one time among the nation's most popular magazines, was known for his tenacity in going after the big names he wanted for his pages. His success led to a brief currency for the verb "to McClure," meaning to woo someone into writing. Few were immune to McClure's energy, enthusiasm, persuasive powers, or perhaps cash, although Oliver Wendell Holmes famously vowed that he would be neither "lured nor McClured."
Drivers shooting down U.S. 1 in Old Greenwich, Conn., might wonder what this monument and its near-twin across the road are doing there. Each is engraved with the names of several Conde Nast magazines (Glamour, House & Garden, Vanity Fair, Vogue), with "V"s replacing any "U"s, for a little extra grandeur.
What they are, it turns out, are relics of a long-gone printing plant that until 1964 printed not only the Conde Nast titles but other well-known magazines, including The New Yorker and Scientfic American. (Years later, The New Yorker would also become part of Conde Nast.)
An article on the Greenwich Library website tells the story of Conde Nast's Old Greenwich facility, which at one time employed 1,000 people. For anyone wishing to visit the pillars and pay their respects, the approximate address is 1800 E. Putnam Ave., in Old Greenwich.
"There is no vitality in the world equal to American vitality; and when we have finally assimilated the emotional understanding of other nations, plus the vitality, we will produce a great literature." — Robert H. Davis, editor of Munsey's magazine, quoted by Louise Bryant in a 1917 article.
Louise Bryant, assuming this is the same one, is best remembered for her relationship with the writer John Reed, portrayed in the 1981 movie "Reds," with Diane Keaton as Bryant and Warren Beatty as Reed.
On this day (November 3) in 1936, Wilfred J. Funk, editor-in-chief of the Literary Digest, then a major U.S. magazine, found he had some explaining to do. His magazine's poll of some 10 million Americans had predicted that Kansas Governor Alf Landon would handily win the presidential election over incumbent Franklin D. Roosevelt, but the very opposite happened.
The fatal flaw in the poll was that it oversampled affluent voters and underestimated those without telephones, cars, or subscriptions to the Literary Digest.
Reached at the home of friends the day after the election, Funk told a reporter that, "It's beyond comprehension to explain away the Digest poll. I couldn't possibly do that now. That will take time and a lot of pencils..."
This Halloween we remember Nicolas de Gunzburg, onetime editor of Town & Country magazine, who played a leading role in the classic 1932 horror movie "Vampyr," directed by Carl Dreyer. Born to a wealthy family in Paris, de Gunzburg, who inherited the title of baron, apparently financed the film in return for his role, which he played under the stage name of Julian West. A few years later he emigrated to the United States, where he eventually became editor of Town & Country as well as an editor at Vogue and Harper's Bazaar.