Magazine History & Collector Tips

Today in 1969 – Paging Through Look Magazine, March 18, 1969

It’s going to cost us half a dollar to grab a March 18, 1969 issue of Look Magazine off the newsstand, but it’s tough to resist this week with John Lennon and Yoko Ono featured on the cover.

“Our Kind of People: Mafiosi, Racists & the Stinking Rich” piques my interest in the Looking at Books section. Sure enough they’re discussing the new novel by some guy called Mario Puzo. It’s his third book and it’s titled The Godfather. Of it, Peter S. Prescott writes:

The plot itself is remarkable. It comes at the reader with the force of a mugger in a midnight alley: he may be appalled by what happens, but he will not be bored.


I’m not sure America is ready for this book. Many readers, who want their bad guys clearly identified and, preferably, gunned down by clean-living cops at the end, are going to be upset by the view of the Mafia that Puzo puts across in these pages. It is, of course, a romantic picture. He shows us the violence, but not the banality; the cruelty, but not the meanness.

Magnavox ad 1969

Magnavox - This was cool, the first TV I grew up with. Turntable on top, awesome! In fact, I still have it, albeit gutted and over-varnished by one of my grandfathers. It stores odds and ends now.

In the first feature 80 year old historian Arnold Toynbee talks about Peace, Power and Race in America in an interview with J. Robert Moskin. A taste:

Moskin: Many Americans are puzzled by this new generation of young people, some of whom seem militant, some of whom seem alienated. What is your view of them?

Toynbee: I notice this alienation especially among the affluent class. The hippies remind me in a curious way of the English aristocrats before the First World War, sort of people like Bertrand Russell, people who were disgusted with their generation. They never knew what compulsory poverty and privation were, of having to earn their living…I’m not too depressed. I am depressed about sex. I don’t equate a special code of sexual behavior with morality in general. But I do think that you must have some code about sex…There will probably be a reaction against this–their children will probably be extremely prim.

Merlyn and Mickey Mantle

The Mick with wife Merlyn

“Mickey Mantle’s Decision” is about an old and achy Mantle ready to quit, but giving in to the Yankee pressure to come play. He’s going to go to Spring Training, and if he decides to walk away it will be from a $100,000 salary. The Mick talks about the end of the 1968 season, his desire to pass Jimmy Foxx on the all-time Home Run list, the grind of the season, and how he liked watching daytime TV at his room in the St. Regis in New York. “Generally, I catch The Match Game, You Don’t Say, all kinds of shows like that. When we’re on the road, me and Whitey (Ford) just lay around all day like that watching daytime TV.”

Look Magazine cover March 18 1969

Front Cover, Look Magazine, March 18, 1969

The cover story featuring John Lennon and Yoko Ono fills seven pages of the issue, including several color photographs. As Look writer Betty Rollin sits cross-legged on the floor eating egg rolls, Lennon explains that he and Ono started as friends, “I respected her work…I tried to teach her how to meditate.” There’s coverage from the hospital, three days earlier, when Yoko Ono had a miscarriage she blamed on the “strain of our two divorces.” A photo shows John camped out on an air mattress at the side of her hospital bed.

John Lennon at Yoko Ono's bedside

John Lennon at Yoko Ono's bedside

A little later, Rollin writes:

…As a matter of fact, Yoko is giving me a pain. Not for moral reasons. And not that I don’t respect her art. I do…But the thing about Yoko is that when she’s being silly, she doesn’t think it’s silly. Her boyfriend has infinitely more humor about what he does. Also, he’s not pushing so hard, and that’s not only because he’s there. I doubt if he ever pushed. Actually, Yoko is pushy–ambitious is a nicer word–the way 20-year old actresses are. But she is 34. John, by the way, is 28.

The article closes with a quote from Lennon about their marriage:

…At first, I didn’t want to get married. Yoko and me, we got such a kick out of just bein’ in luv–changin’ the food in the alrder like young married kids, y’know. But then when we thought the baby was comin’, we thought it over. OK, so we’re swingin’ pop stars. But he’d have enough of a freaky time just bein’ our child, now, wouldn’t he?

“A New Era for Puerto Rico” discusses their new Governor, 64-year-old millionaire industrialist Luis A. Ferre.

There’s a 13-page, mostly photo-filled, feature about The Aran Islands. Three little islands just off the west-central coast of Ireland.

The Aran Islands

The Aran Islands, Ireland

The Remarkable Mr. Harris is about 38-year-old Senator Fred Harris of Oklahoma, who after coming to the Senate to fill the seat of the late Robert S. Kerr in 1964 has risen towards the top of the Democratic party.

The “LOOK at the movies section” proclaims “If is outrageous–a movie so brilliant, so special that it’s dangerous to write about.”

There’s a feature on the national popularity of syndicated radio voice Long John Nebel who works the after midnight shift out of New York. The caption under his photo gives a good description:

Long John Nebel

Long John Nebel: He thrives on controversy, gets a kick out of people walking off his show and doesn't mind being called loud, abrasive and dirty-minded. Only one thing bugs him--anyone saying he's a kook.

Victor Zorda writes “Prospects for War or Peace Could Depend on The Battle Inside the Kremlin,” which discussed the battle inside Russia over how they should respond to the arms race, especially when they suspect Nixon of pushing for nuclear supremacy.

Look Magazine started back in 1937, very shortly after the ground-breaking Photojournalism magazine Life first appeared. As television took over their audience and became the standard venue for not only sharing photos, but photos with movement, Look (and Life) both gave way to more text inside their publications. Look Magazine published it’s last issue dated October 19, 1971.

I wrote an article some time back on Collecting Old Magazines that goes into much more detail about the history of both publications: The History of LIFE Magazine and LOOK Magazine – Popularize Photojournalism in the 1930’s.

The contents of our March 18, 1969 issue alone should illustrate the obvious appear to collecting magazine back issues. 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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