Magazine History & Collector Tips

Today in 1961 – Paging Through Newsweek Magazine, March 20, 1961


A quarter is all our March 20 issue of Newsweek costs, and so we buy. The cheery cover features Bill Mauldin’s idea of the world headed towards destruction in this nuclear age.

Cover of Newsweek March 20 1961

Cover of Newsweek, March 20, 1961

This magazine is thick, crammed with text, and there’s no way we’re going to finish up by next week. I think we’re going to have to skim. Don’t worry, still lots going on in the world.

In fact I’ve gotten held up on the contents page of all places! Newsweek’s going through some changes as Malcolm Muir has sold the magazine to the Philip L. Graham and The Washington Post Company. Could be some changes ahead, though Graham did say that’s not the case: “It is our belief that Newsweek’s reputation for fairness is its greatest asset.”

For a complete history of Newsweek please see my article about Collecting Newsweek.

Newsweek’s regular leadoff column “Periscoping the Nation” asks Where Are They Now? and heads to Lufkin, Texas to check in on the first chairman of the House Un-American and Activities Committee (HUAC), Martin Dies. Dies headed HUAC from 1938-1945. He’s currently practicing law in Lufkin but considering a run for Governor in 1962 noting “I’m not too old, and I’d like to crusade against Federal encroachment on states’ rights.” Dies, 60, first served in the House of Representatives thirty years ago, in 1931.

It’s been inevitable since the Giants moved to San Francisco, but last week City officials voted to tear down the Polo Grounds to clear space for a housing project. Newsweek covers some of the Polo Grounds history in sport, especially baseball:

There, Wee Willie Keeler broke into baseball; Amos Rusie rifled the fast ball that inspired the explanation … “You can’t hit it if you can’t see it.” George M. Cohan serenaded the fans before a game; autocratic manager John J. McGraw declared: “I’m absolute czar; I order plays and they obey”; and another high-riding manager, Bill Terry, lived to regret his sneer: “Is Brooklyn still in the league?”

Polo Grounds

Aerial view of the Polo Grounds

Also mentioned are Babe Ruth hitting home runs there as the Yankees called the Polo Grounds home into 1923; King Carl Hubbell striking out five legends in a row, including Ruth, at the ’34 All-Star Game, and, of course, Bobby Thomson’s magnificent home run in the bottom of the 9th versus Brooklyn in the 1951 playoff game.

The International section wonders if President Kennedy will visit Moscow.

Berlin Mayor Willy Brandt is hoping to adapt most of Kennedy’s strategies in his campaign to defeat 85-year-old Konrad Adenauer in next September’s election for German Chancellor. Not many issues separate the men, so Brandt hopes his Kennedyism will carry him to victory.

Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro took to the sandlots last week to play some ball. No doubt who was boss on this field, as Castro ordered a runner back to first after he had successfully stolen second base. “In the revolution,” Castro said, “no one can steal–even in baseball.”

Fidel Castro

Fidel takes a hack

Vivien Leigh managed to get ticked off upon her arrival at New York’s Idlewild airport last week. Miss Leigh was en route to Atlanta for a Gone With the Wind revival when a 60-year-old reporter made the mistake of asking her which part she played. Scarlet threw a hissy-fit and threatened to turn around and go home. Someone in her camp must have placated her though, as her quote about the incident upon arrival in Atlanta was “I think it’s the most wonderful thing I’ve ever heard.”

Vivien Leigh comes to Atlanta

Vivien Leigh comes to Atlanta

Detroit Free Press editorial cartoonist Frank Williams was doodling last week when he wound up sticking JFK’s hair on top of Ike’s head. The result pleased him so much that he did the same for Jimmy Hoffa, Adlai Stevenson, and Richard Nixon:

JFK's hair on some other heads

JFK's hair on some other heads

The Russians put a small dog, Chernushka aka Blackie, into space last week aboard their 5-ton Korabl Sputnik. It was the fourth such announced test by the Soviets, the first of which went into orbit in May 1960 “carrying only a dummy spaceman (so far as the west knows).”

Have you ever heard of Marvin Glass? The 45-year-old Glass runs a nine-room office on Chicago’s Near North Side and is responsible for designing twenty of the top-selling toys over the past thirteen years including Super Specs, Brainy Bug, the Ric-O-Shay Pistol, and Mr. Machine.

Glass is the most prodigious independent designer in the nation’s $1.7 billion toy industry…Operating on a straight 6 per cent commission, he grosses about $1.5 million year in and year out in an otherwise unpredictable industry. With manufacturers willing to pay him another $1,000 per day, plus expenses, for occasional counsel, his person take runs to more than $250,000 per year.

Married four times, workaholic Glass smokes three packs of cigarettes and a dozen cigars per day. He keeps a $325 a month apartment but usually sleeps in his office.

At this week’s 58th American Toy Fair in New York, Glass unveiled his newest creations including Robot Commando, Kissy Doll, Yakkity Yob, and the Super Pop Gun, all expected to be big for next Christmas. He credits his prolific creativity to refinements on existing toys and brainstorming session with his staff. Glass’s four criteria for a successful toy: “It must 1) be simple, 2) be appealing, 3)be playable, and 4) perform according to promise.”

Barbara Bel Geddes is pictured with a brief article about Mary, Mary, in which Bel Geddes shares the stage with Barry Nelson, John Cromwell, and Michael Rennie.

Barbara Bel Geddes

Barbara Bel Geddes

Joe DiMaggio returns to baseball for the first time since his 1951 retirement after taking leave from his public relations job to be special assistant to Yankees’ manager Ralph Houk at Miller Huggins Field in St. Petersburg. DiMaggio’s spring locker is right between Roger Maris and major league hopeful John Reed. DiMaggio is a top draw for autograph seekers including one 9-year-old boy who approached him with four baseballs to sign. “What do you do with them?” DiMaggio asked the boy. “Sell ’em for $3 apiece,” the young man replied.

Ed Sullivan is at war with Jack Paar over guest fees. Sullivan’s been paying his guests as much as $7,500 a night to come perform on his program, but found out Paar was getting the same talent for $320. Sullivan offered to go on Paar’s show to talk about it, under the condition it just be them with no audience. Paar wasn’t biting. Sullivan may win out playing hardball though, as he’s already gotten both Myron Cohen and Sam Levenson to cancel Paar bookings by putting their $7,500 Sullivan in jeopardy.

And that’s about all that caught my eye paging through this week’s issue of Newsweek. Back to the present, I’ll say it again, that was pretty fun and a journey once again going to show why I think you should be collecting old magazines–especially if you made it this far! Besides the possibility of containing an article of specific interest, each issue is a trip back in time to the events, occurrences, people and culture of the period.

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