The Pop History Dig

“Empire Newhouse”
1920s-2012

Filed under: 1921-1930,1931-1940,1941-1950,1951-1960,1961-1970,1971-1980,1981-1990,1991-2000,2001-Today — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , — J.D. @ 12:26 pm

     If you read Wired magazine, The New Yorker, or Vanity Fair, you’re reading material produced by a company named Advance Publications.  And if you read Parade, the largest circulation Sunday supplement magazine in the U.S., or Golf Digest, or Glamour, these magazines are also published by Advance – as are Vogue, The Sporting News, Architectural Digest, and several others.  Advance owns newspapers as well, found in more than twenty-five American cities, including Newark, New Jersey; Cleveland, Ohio; Portland, Oregon; and Syracuse, New York.  Another 40 weekly titles are published by Advance through its American City Business Journals.  Cable television outlets owned by Advance serve 2.4 million customers in Florida, California, Michigan, Indiana and Alabama.  On the web, Advance Internet operates more than 100 websites, most of which serve and extend the company’s print and cable operations.  Reddit.com, the popular user-generated “social news” website, is one of Advance Internet’s properties.

     Advance Publications was formed and is owned by the Newhouse family of Long Island, New York.  In recent years the Newhouse /Advance empire has ranked among the 50 largest private companies in the U.S.  The company dates to the early 1920s, and grew to fame in the heyday of the newspaper business when its founder, Samuel I. Newhouse – “Sam” – steadily went about acquiring all manner of America newspapers during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.  Today, as of September 2012, Advance Publications is run at the corporate level by Sam’s two sons — S.I. Newhouse, Jr. (84), known as “Si,” and brother Donald Newhouse (81).  Assorted other Newhouse family members assist in the management of various divisions and subsidiaries.  Si and Donald will soon turn over control of the company to the next generation of Newhouse executives.

     Yet, some say the Newhouse empire is “yesterday’s media company,” and will succumb to the albatross and high-cost of print in a digital age.  Others believe the Newhouse empire will not only survive, but will thrive, continuing to be a dominant cultural force and contemporary story teller, setting trends in fashion, literature, and style as it goes.  Whatever the outcome, there is 90 years of rich history here – a publishing and cultural time capsule of sorts, reflecting changes in publishing and media generally over that period.  What follows is a narrative and visual look at some of that Newhouse history, and by extension, media and publishing history as well.  First, Sam Newhouse, the founding father, circa 1920s.


Life magazine photo of Sam Newhouse, 1963.
Life magazine photo of Sam Newhouse, 1963.
Sam Newhouse

     Having left school at about the age of 13 due to his family’s poverty, Samuel I. Newhouse landed a job with a local judge in Bayonne, New Jersey.  There, he was given the task of minding a local newspaper named the Bayonne Times which his employer had acquired in payment for a bad debt.  Newhouse succeeded in making the paper profitable, and along the way, attended evening classes at the New Jersey Law School at Newark, receiving a degree in 1916.  Newhouse was 21 by this time, and his boss, Judge Lazarus, paid him $30,000 a year, and gave him a 25 percent share the Bayonne Times.  In 1922, with Judge Lazarus, Newhouse purchased the Staten Island Advance, one of the first newspapers he acquired – the property from which “Advance Publications” got its name.  When Judge Lazarus died in 1924, Newhouse acquired the rest of the Staten Island Advance.  He then focused on the idea of expanding newsstands in the region as a way to grow his newspaper – newsstands at the St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island and others throughout Manhattan, at LaGuardia and Newark airports, and at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York city, which became the world’s largest and most lucrative newsstand.  Then came other newspaper acquisitions: the Long Island Press in 1932; the Newark Star Ledger in 1933, the long Island Star Journal in 1938; the Syracuse Journal in 1939; the Syracuse Herald-Standard in 1941; the Jersey Journal in 1945; and the Harrisburg Patriot of Pennsylvania in 1948.

Dec 1955: Newhouse makes Alabama deal.
Dec 1955: Newhouse makes Alabama deal.
     Newhouse soon moved beyond the Northeast in prospecting for additional newspapers to buy.  In 1950, he purchased The Oregonian for $5.6 million, then the largest newspaper sale ever.  Five years later, in 1955, Newhouse purchased St. Louis Globe-Democrat for $6.5 million, another record.  In the same year in Alabama he acquired the Birmingham News and Huntsville Times, along with one TV property and 2 radio stations for a combined $18.7 million.  This deal set another record, surpassing Cyrus McCormick’s $18 million purchase of The Philadelphia Inquirer in 1930. 

     In buying up newspapers, Newhouse adopted a low-key, non-threatening approach with the companies acquired.  He usually kept the existing management and editors and was reluctant to upset the status quo, believing the papers should remain local institutions run by people in those communities.

March 1958: “Glamour” shortly before the Newhouse acquisition.
March 1958: “Glamour” shortly before the Newhouse acquisition.
     But Newhouse also expanded his growing publishing business with new magazine properties.  By 1959, he acquired the Condé Nast magazine group, which then included seven magazines – Vogue, Glamour, Bride, and House & Garden among themAt the time, these magazines had sales in the neighborhood of $20 million a year.  Added to this group in August 1959 were more magazines through another Newhouse acquisition – this time, buying up Street & Smith Publications which held titles such as Mademoiselle magazine and several sports annuals, including: College Football, Pro Football, Baseball, Pro Basketball, and College/Prep Basketball.  In some cases, Newhouse took the less viable magazines in one company and rolled them into the better version in another company, often helping his bottom line.  The Condé Nast group had been losing money when Newhouse acquired it, but within one year under his management it turned a $1.6 million profit.  Within the Newhouse family, meanwhile, Sam’s sons were chosen to help run the business – S. I., Jr. ran the Condé Nast group, while younger brother Donald managed the newspapers and broadcasting in Newark, NJ.

     The wealth of the Newhouse family at this point approached $200 million.  Some began wondering exactly how Newhouse was generating the funds for his deals.  A few even speculated that he was laundering money, using his newspapers as a front for a local mob organization’s illegal booze operations during prohibition.  But it wasn’t that at all.  Newhouse had just hired smart attorneys and accountants who figured out ways to pay the absolute least amount of corporate taxes while costing every expense they could and depreciating assets to the limit.  They also structured each newspaper as its own operation, each attributed its own separate profits, avoiding a much higher commulative total under one, single-owned Newhouse entity.  There was also a Newhouse Foundation created early on as an additional tax dodge, which some believe was also used to help finance the $18 million deal for the Alabama newspapers in 1955.


The 1960s

1962: Newhouse buys Louisiana newspapers.
1962: Newhouse buys Louisiana newspapers.
     In the 1960s, Sam Newhouse continued building his newspaper empire, but he didn’t appear to use his growing publication power in the political arena.  The Newhouse newspapers appeared to follow their own political inclinations, and were not told to endorse specific candidates.  Newhouse himself was a registered Democrat, and he voted for John F. Kennedy in the 1960 presidential race.  Eight of the Newhouse newspapers, however, endorsed Nixon.  In New York, Mr. Newhouse favored Republican Nelson Rockefeller for governor.

     Back on the newspaper acquisition trail, Newhouse acquired the Oregon Journal in 1961 for $8 million.  By then he owned 16 newspapers.  But in 1962, having failed to buy the Houston Post after he had made a generous offer to that paper’s owner  — Ms. Hobby, who refused to sell — Newhouse was still itching to buy a paper, any paper.  So he telephoned a newspaper broker named Allen Kander in Washington, D.C.  Newhouse, then continuing his travels in the South, asked Kander where he might buy a newspaper in the region.  Try New Orleans, Kander suggested.  Newhouse did.  Two weeks later, he set another record, paying $42 million for both of New Orleans’ newspapers: the morning Times-Picayune and its evening companion, the States-Item.  The larger of these two, the Times Picayune, then had a daily circulation in excess of 195,000, with more than 300,000 sold on Sundays.  The States-Item was an evening paper with a circulation of about 163,000.

S.I. “Sam” Newhouse on the cover of Time magazine, July 27th, 1962.
S.I. “Sam” Newhouse on the cover of Time magazine, July 27th, 1962.
     The Louisiana deals that Newhouse had made, not only set a record, but also sent his company into the upper echelons of the newspaper industry.  Newhouse by then had collected 19 newspapers with a combined daily and Sunday circulation of 5.7 million.  He now owned, in whole or part, more newspapers than anyone else in the U.S.  The Scripps Howard organization was right behind him with 18, followed by Hearst newspapers with 13.  However, Scripps-Howard and Hearst both had bigger total circulation numbers than did Newhouse.  But  Newhouse was growing in size, even as Scripps-Howard, Hearst, and most of the U.S. newspaper industry was contracting.  And Sam Newhouse appeared to be the better businessman of the bunch, having a special knack for making newspapers profitable.  By late July 1962, Sam Newhouse appeared on the cover of Time magazine, depicted with a stream of acquired newspapers behind him, shown generating a flow of cash.

     In the fall that year, Newhouse set out again to bag another newspaper.  On October 12, 1962, The Wall Street Journal reported that Newhouse was planing to buy The World-Herald newspaper in Omaha, Nebraska.  And a few weeks later Newhouse made a $40 million bid for the paper, which appeared to be accepted.

1967: Sam Newhouse acquired ‘The Cleveland Plain Dealer’ newspaper.
1967: Sam Newhouse acquired ‘The Cleveland Plain Dealer’ newspaper.
     However, a local Omaha construction magnate, Peter Kiewit, bid higher at $40.5 million, which the World-Herald board accepted, preferring to keep the paper in local hands.  Back in New York, meanwhile, in 1964 Newhouse made the largest gift to Syracuse University by a living donor as the university dedicated its new School of Communications Center, which was named for Samuel Newhouse.

     In 1966, Newhouse acquired three newspapers in Springfield, Massachusetts – The Springfield Morning  News, The Republican, and The Morning Union – followed by three more in the south;  The Mobile Register, The Mobile Press and The Mississippi Press-Register.  The following year he set another industry record when he paid $54.2 million for the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.

     As he went about his business, Newhouse gained a reputation as a tight-fisted owner and manager known for cost cutting.  He also resisted unions and did not pay high salaries to his reporters.  Nor did he impose any particular ideology or editorial line on his managers and editors, and for the most past, he maintained political neutrality.  Said he in 1968: “My papers have different philosophies, and they’re about as wide apart as they can get.  Some are Democratic, some are Republican.  I am not going to try to shape their thought.”  Many others in the business followed his “hands off” example.


The 1970s

     By the mid-1970s, Sam Newhouse, then 80 years old, was still looking for more newspaper properties.  In February 1975 he had acquired 25 percent of the stock in the Booth Newspaper group, a chain of eight small newspapers all within 200 miles of Detroit, Michigan.  Booth also owned Parade magazine, a popular Sunday supplement. Local newspapers with monopoly positions like those in the Booth chain, were described by one 1975 analyst as offering  “practically a licence to print money.” The eight papers – The Grand Rapids Press, The Flint Journal, The Kalamazoo Gazette, The Saginaw News, The Muskegon Chronicle, The Bay City Times, The Ann Arbor News and The Jackson Citizen Press – then had a combined circulation of about 506,000.  But Newhouse wasn’t the only party interested in this newspaper group.  The Times Mirror Company – then owner of the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, The Dallas Times Herald, and The Orange Coast Daily Pilot – was also interested.  In the fall of 1976, Times Mirror made an offer to buy the Booth chain at $40 a share, which was more than double Booth’s stock price at the time.  But Newhouse made a counter offer of $47 a share, which the Booth group accepted.  In the end, Newhouse gained total ownership of the eight Booth newspapers and Parade magazine for $305 million.

The look of Parade magazine in August 1977, not long after being acquired by Newhouse.
The look of Parade magazine in August 1977, not long after being acquired by Newhouse.
     The deal was seen in the industry as an investor’s dream, as the eight Booth newspapers were the sole papers in their respective communities, each offering a monopoly source for local advertising.  Observed one newspaper analyst at the time: “It has developed over the years that small-to-medium sized newspapers with a monopoly are the Cadillacs of newspaper stocks.  These are steady, reliable, profitable businesses and that is practically a licence to print money.”

     But in addition to the eight local newspapers, there was also something else.  No small part of the deal was Parade magazine.  Parade, in fact, gave Newhouse a window into many other newspapers, as it was then one of the leading Sunday supplement inserts – used by some 111 newspapers with a combined circulation of more than 19 million.  And under the Newhouse umbrella, Parade would only grow in the years ahead.  Elsewhere in the magazine business, in February1979, Newhouse also purchased Gentlemen’s Quarterly from Esquire and rolled it into the Condé Nast magazine group, later renaming it GQ.

1974: Sam Newhouse.
1974: Sam Newhouse.
     The Newhouse empire, however, was about to change.  In August 1979, at the age of 84, Sam Newhouse passed away.  He died of complications following a stroke.  At the time of his death, what had begun as a single Long Island newspaper 50 years earlier, had become a nationwide communications empire that included not only newspapers but magazines, radio and television stations, printing companies and delivery services. 

     By1979, the Newhouse operation held 31 daily newspapers with a total readership of more than 3 million, then the third largest U.S. newspaper chain behind Gannett and Knight-Ridder.  With Sam’s passing, his two sons began running the company – S.I., Jr., known as “Si,” would head up the company’s magazine operations, and Donald Newhouse would run the newspapers.


The banners of the two main newspapers in New Orleans ran together for a time after Newhouse consolidated the them. But in 1986, The States-Item name was dropped.
The banners of the two main newspapers in New Orleans ran together for a time after Newhouse consolidated the them. But in 1986, The States-Item name was dropped.
The 1980s

     In the 1980s, although no newspapers were acquired, some were consolidated, especially in cities where Newhouse owned both the morning and afternoon papers.  In New Orleans, The Times-Picayune was combined with The States-Item.  Newhouse had bought both papers in 1962.  On June 2, 1980, The States-Item was gone but the surviving paper shared a joint banner using both names.  Six years later, The States-Item name was dropped altogether, and the newspaper of New Orleans became The Times-Picayune.

     In Portland, Oregon, The Oregon Journal was merged with the Oregonian in 1982.  That same year, the Cleveland Press ceased operation.  The Newhouse-owned Cleveland Plain-Dealer then became the city’s only daily newspaper.  Allegations were made that Newhouse management had paid The Press’ owner to go out of business, and in 1985, a grand jury began an anti-trust investigation into the Newhouse role, but charges were never filed.  In other newspaper business, Newhouse also sold the St. Louis Globe-Democrat in 1984.

The Random House logo.
The Random House logo.
     In other ventures, Newhouse scored big when he acquired Random House in 1980, then one of the world’s top book publishers.  He bought the premier publisher from RCA for $70 million.  Two years later Fawcett Books was acquired from CBS and placed in the Ballantine Books division of Random House.  In that deal, Newhouse inherited Fawcett’s mass market paperback list with established authors such as: William Bernhardt, Amanda Cross, Stephen Frey, P. D. James, William X. Kienzle, Anne Perry, Daniel Silva, Peter Straub and Margaret Truman.  Fawcett also became the official home of Ballantine’s mass market mystery books program.  Later in the 1980s, Fodor’s Travel Guides (1986) and the Crown Publishing Group (1988) would be acquired and rolled into Random House as well.

     In 1980 Newhouse also sold five television stations to the Times Mirror Company for $82 million.  He sold the stations primarily because his company then held newspapers in those same cities and he feared the government would eventually order the sale on anti-trust grounds.  Newhouse used part of the money from that sale to buy up other cable TV systems, and by 1981 or so had over 500,000 cable television subscribers.  Forbes magazine around this time observed: “By the most conservative standards, the Newhouse properties are worth well over $1 billion.  They are unencumbered by a penny of debt and except for a 49% interest in a paper mill, are 100% owned by the Newhouse family or by trusts they control.”

     In the magazine business, meanwhile, the early 1980s at Newhouse were a time of revamping and relaunching some of the company’s acquired properties.  Among these was Gentleman’s Quarterly, or GQ, a men’s fashion magazine dating to 1931.  At the time Newhouse acquired it, GQ had become known as a gay men’s magazine.  But at the Newhouse Condé Nast shop during the early 1980s, the decision was made to give GQ a more masculine focus, as the company wanted to reach a broader market and become a competitor to Esquire.  The covers in the early 1980s began featuring male movie stars and athletes, among them, actors such as Jack Nicholson, Mel Gibson, and Harrison Ford and athletes such as Washington Redskins quarterback, Joe Theismann.  Advertising pages in the magazine featured male models with admiring females.

 

     In early 1983, Newhouse also made a major move with the re-launch of Vanity Fair as a glossy celebrity magazine focused on literature, the arts, politics and popular culture.  Some $10 million was invested in strengthening the magazine editorially.  It was also redesinged to give it a new look and a new start, hoping to restore it as the central publication within the Condé Nast group.  The first new issue included some 290 pages with a short novel by Gabriel Garcia Márquez, winner of the 1982 Nobel Prize for literature, and also articles by writer Gore Vidal and paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould.  Photographer Irving Penn, described as “one of the greatest portrait photographers of the 20th century”, was enlisted in the Vanity Fair re-launch during 1983.  Penn, who began shooting for Vogue magazine in 1943, did six successive covers for Vanity Fair in 1983, August through December 1983.  Four of those cover shots, which featured celebrity authors and actors, are shown here at right – from top left: novelist Philip Roth, September 1983; writer and playwright Susan Sontag, October 1983; European writer, Francine du Plessix Gray, November 1983; and comedian-in-disguise, Woody Allen, December 1983.  A round of reviews followed the Vanity Fair makeover, including some that were sharply negative, as those that came from Time and The New Republic.  ”We never believed we were producing a perfect magazine when we relaunched Vanity Fair,” said Si Newhouse at the time.  He acknowledged there was much work ahead — “before we get the wonderful, seamless quality a mature magazine has.”

     One step to getting Vanity Fair on the right track, Newhouse hoped, was the January 1984 hiring of Tina Brown, the former editor of The Tatler, society magazine in London.  Brown, an Oxford University graduate, had given The Tatler a more modern and satirical edge, and it appeared that’s what Newhouse had in mind for Vanity Fair as well.  Time would tell.

The New Yorker, Feb 25, 1985, featuring famous mascot, Eustace Tilley, about the time S. I. Newhouse acquired it.
The New Yorker, Feb 25, 1985, featuring famous mascot, Eustace Tilley, about the time S. I. Newhouse acquired it.
     Then in November 1984, Newhouse took another big bite in the magazine industry, spending $25 million to acquire a 17 percent ownership position in the The New Yorker magazine, one of the nation’s most venerable magazines of style and literary excellence, published for some 60 years.  By February 1985, Newhouse had acquired the whole company, which then also included a few other magazines

     The acquisition of The New Yorker stunned the publishing world.  At the time, many worried for the fate of the magazine’s vaunted literary quality, which showcased some of the finest writers in America, might suffer under the Newhouse cost-conscious management style.  An unsigned article published in the magazine during the management change questioned whether the new ownership would result in erosion of The New Yorker’s long tradition of editorial independence. Fears escalated when the long standing editor of some 32 years, William Shawn, was fired by Newhouse.  Depsite the concerns, things at The New Yorker continued pretty much as they had, as the magazine’s integrity and quality were not compromised.

     In the business world, however, there were those who believed that buying up The New Yorker made no economic sense, as the magazine was seen as “old media” and on the way out – especially as television’s “quick take” and “sound bite” stylistic tendencies began encroaching on the print world.  But Si Newhouse was a careful student of the magazine business.  In September 1988 he told Geraldine Fabrikant of the New York Times that The New Yorker was then “one of the greatest things in journalism and the most interesting thing I am involved in.”  He added: ”People have been convinced that no one is reading any more, so that bringing The New Yorker back is a fascinating challenge,” he said.  ”When I study the health of magazines, I study renewal rates,” he explained.  ”That tells you whether a magazine is right for its readers.  Once you have a good reader base, advertisers invariably follow.”  The New Yorker at the time had a renewal rate of 72 percent, which was then 2 points above the industry average.

     Vanity Fair, meanwhile, under Tina Brown, faced a make-or-break situation, with 1984 circulation of 200,000 and very little advertising.  Rumors circulated that Si Newhouse might decide to take the barely-surviving magazine and fold it into The New Yorker.  But under Brown’s direction, Vanity Fair began to show itself in a new way, offering a range of new cover subjects, stories and photography. 

     Three Vanity Fair cover stories during 1985 are sometimes credited as the turning point.  First was the Vanity Fair cover of Ronald and Nancy Reagan dancing in the White House by photographer Harry Benson for the June 1985 issue.  Then came the August 1985 cover story of accused murderer Claus von Bulow with his mistress Andrea Reynolds on the cover and in other photos by Helmut Newton of von Bülow and Reynolds in matching leather jackets that made them look, as Reynolds put it, like “S&M people.”  And finally, there was Tina Brown’s own cover story on Princess Diana of October 1985 titled “The Mouse that Roared,” which examined how marriage and a public life had changed young Diana, a former preschool teacher.  Princess Di was photographed in full House of Windsor regalia for the issue.  But perhaps more notably, the Princess Diana story also broke news of the royal couple’s fractured marriage.  The issue boosted Vanity Fair newsstand sales by 100,000 copies.

Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown with Si Newhouse, 1990.
Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown with Si Newhouse, 1990.
     The von Bülow and Princess Diana issues set Vanity Fair sales records and helped convince Newhouse to stick with the venture.  Vanity Fair’s fortunes generally rose thereafter, as sales began rising, especially on the newsstands, a very good bellweater of consumer acceptance and magazine success.  By 1988, Tina Brown was named Magazine Editor of the Year by Advertising Age and Vanity Fair’s advertising pages were on the rise as well.  Tina Brown’s Vanity Fair cover subjects continued to reflect leading edge culture, with figures such as Madonna and Michael Jackson featured on issues in the second half of the 1980s.  The magazine also used current events to its advantage.  “I brought in the news gene,” Tina Brown would later explain to writer Steve Fishman in a 2009 New York magazine interview.  “Newhouse came to understand that news was a key to connection to the culture.”  News meant buzz, politics, and culture.  As New York’s Steve Fishman, would put it: “Brown had an instinct, and an unrestrained affection, for power, and she set about glamorizing it, whether in politics, Hollywood, business, or crime.  The notion that a magazine could borrow celebrity power to increase its own, such a truism now, was revelatory at the time.”

2010 edition of “Condé Nast Traveler,” launched in 1987.
2010 edition of “Condé Nast Traveler,” launched in 1987.
“Details” magazine in 1992 after a Newhouse overhaul.
“Details” magazine in 1992 after a Newhouse overhaul.

     Si Newhouse, meanwhile was also adding other magazines during the late 1980s.  Among these was a magazine that would later become the Condé Nast Traveler, a monthly magazine for affluent readers and travelers that was acquired from American Express as Signature magazine, but was vastly upgraded and relaunched by Newhouse in the fall of 1987 with an infusion of about $40 million.  In early 1988, Details magazine was acquired, which was originally a somewhat quirky chronicle of Manhattan’s downtown art and club scene when Newhouse acquired it for $2 million, but was transformed into a young men’s fashion and lifestyle magazine.  Later the same year, Woman magazine was acquired, an eight-year-old magazine with a circulation of 525,000.  Somewhat less sophisticated than others in the Newhouse / Condé Nast group, Woman would target a newer market segment.  Meanwhile, an older but reliable magazine on the newspaper side, Parade, was enjoying a growing readership base.  By 1989 the Sunday supplement was included in some 330 newspapers with a circulation of more than 35 million readers.  A full-page color ad in Parade at this time would cost its sponsor about $420,000.

     Elsewhere in the late-1980s Newhouse empire, Random House in 1988 added Crown Publishing to its growing group of imprints.  The IRS about this time filed charges against the Newhouse family, claiming taxes due on the estate of Sam Newhouse.  The family had filed an estimated amount of $48 million.  The IRS, however, said the amount due was more in the neighborhood of $600 million, plus $300 million more in penalties.  However, the courts later found in favor of the Newhouse family.  By 1989, Forbes magazine, in its annual listing of the richest Americans, found the Newhouse empire to be worth some $5.2 billion.  Fortune magazine estimated Newhouse wealth a bit higher, at $7.7 billion.  In any case, by the close of the decade, Newhouse was the nation’s the No. 1 publisher of general books, the third largest magazine publisher, the fourth largest newspaper chain, and one of the top 15 cable TV providers.


The 1990s

     Vanity Fair continued to be a pop culture trend-setter in the early 1990s, featuring cutting-edge stories, Hollywood celebrities, and sometimes controversial covers, not the least of which was a nude and very pregnant Demi Moore on the cover of the August 1991 issue.  “More Demi Moore,” read the cover tag line, with the featured subject photographed by Annie Leibovitz, as Moore was then seven months pregnant with her daughter.  The cover was intended to be “anti- Hollywood” and “anti-glitz,” according to some accounts, and it succeeded in sparking intense controversy and debate, receiving wide media coverage in the process.  Other Vanity Fair covers through 1992 featured Hollywood celebrities, rock stars, and enticing cover stories, among them: Jessica Lange in October 1991, Goldie Hawn in March 1992, and Mick Jagger in April 1992.

     Vanity Fair’s circulation had jumped to 1.2 million by 1991.  Advertising pages were also up in 1991, to about 1,440 pages.  Revenues from circulation rose, especially from profitable single-copy sales at $20 million.  Vanity Fair was then selling some 55 percent of its copies on the newsstand, well above the industry average of 42 percent.  Tina Brown had done so well at Vanity Fair that Si Newhouse decided in July 1992 to make her editor of The New Yorker, hoping to give that magazine a bit of Vanity Fair’s sharper edge.  Graydon Carter was hired by Newhouse to replace Brown at Vanity Fair, which continued with engaging cover art, such as the August 1993 issue with Cindy Crawford and k. d. Lang, photographed by Herb Ritts.  Vanity Fair stories had cultural and current affairs impact, too.  In 1996, journalist Marie Brenner wrote a Vanity Fair exposé on the tobacco industry entitled “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” an article later adapted for the 1999 film, The Insider, with Al Pacino and Russell Crowe.

1996: “Allure,” Sharon Stone.
1996: “Allure,” Sharon Stone.
October 1995: “Bon Appétit.”
October 1995: “Bon Appétit.”

     Beyond Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, the Newhouse enterprise continued to extend its reach in the magazine business.  In 1991, it added Allure and others through the 1993 acquisition of Knapp Publications including, Architectural Digest and Bon Appétit.  The following year, Newhouse acquired a 25 percent share of Wired, a San Francisco based monthly magazine focusing on new technology and how it affects culture, the economy, and politics.  Newhouse had also offered some $500 million in backing to QVC, then in a 1993 bid for Paramount film studios, which QVC later lost to Viacom.  On the newspaper side, the American City Business Journals were acquired by Newhouse in 1995 for about $270 million, adding business newspapers in some 40 cities with names such as the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the Cincinnati Business Courier, the Denver Business Journal, and others.  Still, newspapers continued to be the cash cow for Newhouse, generating the largest revenue stream for the company through the mid-1990s, usually north of $1.5 billion annually.  In cable TV, meanwhile, Newhouse and Time-Warner Cable combined cable systems in a joint venture.  That deal brought Newhouse Broadcasting’s 1.4 million subscribers together with Time-Warner systems in New York, North Carolina and Florida at a time when the cable industry was undergoing consolidation in preparation for the battle-to-come with phone companies.  Newhouse was also then a part owner of the Discovery cable TV channel.

October 12, 1962 issue of The New Yorker with Malcolm X portrait.
October 12, 1962 issue of The New Yorker with Malcolm X portrait.
     Over at the The New Yorker, meanwhile, Tina Brown broke tradition with her second issue of the magazine – for its October 12, 1992 edition – running a portrait of Malcolm X on the cover, as well as a full-page photograph of the slain black leader inside the magazine.  It was the first time in the magazine’s 67-year history that an article had received such treatment.  The cover painting was by artist Josh Gosfield, which also featured a background collage of other smaller drawings and photos around the Malcolm portrait, including imagery related to the Los Angeles beating of Rodney King and a smaller photo by Richard Avedon of Malcolm X with Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963.  Inside the magazine, there was a related story by Marshall Frady entitled, “The Children of Malcolm.”  It was also the first time the cover subject had been related to an article inside the magazine.  A New York Daily news story, noting the change, observed: “this is not your father’s New Yorker.”

      Inside the magazine, Brown also made changes.  She introduced color and photography giving the magazine a more modern layout with less type on each page.  There was also more coverage of current events and hot topics, featuring more celebrities and business tycoons.  The “Goings on About Town” section included short pieces throughout and a column about Manhattan nightlife.  A new letters-to-the-editor page and the addition of authors’ bylines to the “Talk of the Town” section had the effect of making the magazine more personal.

Two Newhouse Books
1994 & 1998

1997 paperback edition of Thomas Maier’s book on the Newhouse family.
1997 paperback edition of Thomas Maier’s book on the Newhouse family.
     The Newhouse family and its rising media holdings had long been of interest to enterprising journalists.  And in October 1994, one of the first books examining the Newhouse empire appeared, titled: Newhouse: All the Glitter, Power & Glory of America’s Richest Media Empire & The Secretive Man Behind It.  The 446-page book was written by Thomas Maier, a reporter for Newsday, the New York newspaper.  The unauthorized investigative volume is centered mostly on Si Newhouse, who Maier calls at one point, “the most powerful private citizen in America.”  The book examines the internecine warfare among owner and editors and some of the lavish partying, expense accounts, and excesses.  Maier makes clear that he is no fan of the Newhouse empire, which he charges with promoting celebrity and gossip over social responsibility.  The book also featured a few long-standing family friends, such as Roy Cohn, and the magic he worked for some politicians in selected Newhouse publications (including JFK and Ronald Reagan).  Cohn also helped Newhouse land literary stars like Norman Mailer and aided the family in their battle with the IRS.  Maier’s book raised warnings about a media monopoly in America, and how powers like Newhouse were changing journalism.  The book won the Frank Luther Mott Award as best media book of the year in 1995 and excerpts appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Worth, and The London Telegraph.  An updated paperback was published in 1997.

Carol Felsenthal’s 1998 book, “Citizen Newhouse.”
Carol Felsenthal’s 1998 book, “Citizen Newhouse.”
     In December 1998, a second unauthorized biography appeared – Citizen Newhouse: Portrait of a Media Merchant.  It was written by Carol Felsenthal who had written an earlier controversial volume on Washington Post owner, Katharine Graham.  Citizen Newhouse  covers the Newhouse story mostly by way of Si Newhouse.  However, this book’s publication became something of a story in its own right when Newhouse worries gripped the book’s editor at Viking Press, causing her to cancell Felsenthal’s book contract.  The book was finally published with Seven Stories Press.  

     Felsenthal worked for five years on the Newhouse book, conducting some 430 interviews and producing a volume that offers a vast compendium of facts, quotes, and anecdotes.  Her book includes great detail on Si Newhouse’s editorial proclivities and the lavish perks he bestowed on his editorial elite, with former editors and publishers talking candidly about their dealings with Newhouse, who is cast as cold and uncaring by several long-time editors.  Still, Felsenthal portrays Newhouse as a businessman who made few mistakes, taking his father’s newspaper company to new heights with successful expansions in book and magazine publishing.

     By March 1998, the Newhouse family appeared to be streamlining its operation, and cutting away properties which had underperformed.  One of these was the Random House publishing group, which by then included many well known and well respected imprints including: Alfred A. Knopf, Crown Publishing, Ballantine Books, Fawcett Books, Fodor’s, Modern Library, Pantheon Books, Orion, Vintage Books, and others. During its 18 years of ownership, the Newhouse family had expanded Random House from a $200 million-a-year publishing house with no properties overseas to world’s largest English language trade publisher with ports in England and Australia.  But like others in the industry, Random House had struggled with heavy returns of unsold titles and marginal profitability.  In 1996 it’s profits were generously estimated at $1 million on $1 billion in sales. However, as part of the privately-held Advance Publications empire, and not having to worry about quarter-to-quarter pressures of a publicly-held company, the Newhouse family could and did take the long view with Random House.Some believe Newhouse played a key role in pushing Random to bring on celebrity authors and blockbuster books that would do well in a more entertainment-driven marketplace.  Random also went after celebrity authors, and paid them well to write their books with big advances – $2.5 million to former Clinton presidential adviser, Dick Morris; $5 million for Marlon Brando’s autobiography, and more than $6 million for Colin Powell’s autobiography.

     Still, in Random House, the Newhouse organization did not find the cross-business opportunities – or “synergies” as some described them – that might have moved between the magazine and book businesses.  One Newhouse editor at The New Yorker told the The New York Observer in March 1998: “The idea that The New Yorker has drawn any intellectual sustenance from Random House is ludicrous.  There has never been an exchange of ideas and, even in business matters, like first serial rights.  Random House has always been as firmly self-interested as the next publisher.”  During the 18-year Newhouse tenure, Random House and the book business had changed, and with the web and new retailing patterns, more change was ahead.  Si Newhouse and family, some believed, were just more comfortable in the magazine and newspaper business.  “Si loves the media business and he loves it for the right reasons,” one publishing source told The Observer.  “He genuinely loves owning things that make a contribution to a high level of intellectual discussion.  But he is at core a businessman….”  By 1997, Si and family had decided to sell Random, but they would not sell it to just anybody; there would have to be a genuine interest in the book business.  When German bookseller Bertelsmann approached Newhouse with an interest in the company, negotiations began.  Bertelsmann wanted a foothold in the American publishing business, and in the end paid more than $1 billion for Random House – $1.3 billion by one estimate.

     “I think Si deserves a lot of credit,” said Thomas Maier, author of the 1994 book, Newhouse, summing up the Newhouse ownership of Random House to New York Times reporter Doreen Carvajal.  “He…grew the business through acquisitions and by hiring some terrifically talented people.  I think it’s very debatable whether they improved the quality or not.  In some ways they did, and in other ways they ended a genteel, writer-oriented era in publishing in favor of a celebrity, media-driven realm.  Was that a tide that could be bucked?  Probably not.”  Newhouse, in Maier’s view, played a key role in pushing Random to bring on more celebrity authors and blockbuster-type books that would do well in a more entertainment-driven marketplace.  And that change helped draw in even bigger players like Disney and Murdoch.

Sept 2001: Gwyneth Paltrow.
Sept 2001: Gwyneth Paltrow.
April 2011: Liv Tyler.
April 2011: Liv Tyler.

     In the magazine business, meanwhile, the Newhouse enterprise was still buying.  In May 1998, the company acquired full control of Wired magazine, the San Francisco based technology/life style magazine.  In 1999, additional magazines were bought from Disney through Fairchild Publications, a company Disney had acquired when it bought Cap Cities /ABC in 1995.  Newhouse acquired three magazines in the Disney deal – W, Jane, and Women’s Wear Daily.  W and Women’s Wear were fashion magazines, while Jane was oriented to the 18-to-34 year old market.  Newhouse reportedly offered $650 million in the Disney/Fairchild magazine deal, outbidding the Hearst Corporation, a big rival in the magazine business.  With the three mostly fashion additions, Newhouse now had control of more fashion advertising revenue than any of its rivals — worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually.  Covers in these magazines during 1999, for example, featured celebrities such as: Lisa Kudrow, Natalie Portman, Courtney Love, Minnie Driver, Mariah Carey, Claire Danes —  with others in that vein continuing through the early 2000s, such as the Gwyneth Paltrow and Liv Tyler covers shown above.


2000s: New World

Actress Rachel Bilson on the cover of the March 2008 issue of “Lucky” magazine, a Newhouse success story in the otherwise tough 2000s.
Actress Rachel Bilson on the cover of the March 2008 issue of “Lucky” magazine, a Newhouse success story in the otherwise tough 2000s.
     Through the first decade of the new millennium, Newhouse faced something of a new world, with changing technology, and later, tougher economic times.  Still, at the beginning of the decade, the Newhouse enterprise continued what it had been doing in the past – acquiring more properties.  In July 2000, Newhouse acquired a group of newspapers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania from the Media News Group, including: The Gloucester County Times, Today’s Sunbeam, Bridgeton Evening News – all in New Jersey – and The Express-Times of Easton, Pennsylvania.  However, Newhouse also closed down the Syracuse Herald- Journal in 2001.

     On the magazine side, there were also additions, as well as a few subtractions.  Lucky, a new creation, was launched in December 2000, cast as a shopping guide and style magazine primarily for women.  Its articles focused on fashion – what to wear and how to wear it – and each issue featured a spread on some the cover girl’s favorite clothes and trends.  Another magazine, Modern Bride, was acquired from Primedia for $52 million in 2002, and fit another slice of the Condé Nast upscale audience.  In early 2003, Teen Vogue was launched as a another new Condé Nast magazine with Gwen Stafani on the cover of the first issue.  Teen Vogue was basically conceived as a teenage version of Vogue magazine aimed at teenage girls.  Focusing on teen fashion and celebrities, with related news and entertainment feature stories, it became a successful new magazine in the Newhouse/Condé Nast stable, soon reaching a circulation of more than one million.  At the same time, three other magazines were closed in 2001 – Mademoiselle, Golf World, and Golf Digest.  In the Cable TV arena, Advance and AOL/Time-Warner ended their cable partnership in 2002, as Advance changed the name of its cable operations to Bright House.  By early 2008, before the economy went south, the Newhouse empire had revenues of more than $7 billion with more than 20,000 employees.  The combined worth of Si and Donald Newhouse had been estimated by Forbes a few years earlier at around $15 billion.

     Image & Style.  Newhouse magazines during the 2000s continued with their celebrity-centric and fashion offerings, as well as their socially-trendy reporting.  Vanity Fair had established itself since the 1990s as perhaps the top New York magazine on pop culture, fashion, and current affairs, and continued with that mix of fare through the 2000s.  In 2002, for example, it offered a formal portrait of President George W. Bush’s Afghan War Cabinet.  In 2005, came some juicy celebrity exclusives – “the big post-prison interview” with diva Martha Stewart in August, followed by the first interview with Jennifer Anniston after her divorce from Brad Pitt in September titled, “The Unsinkable Jennifer Aniston,” with Anniston on the cover.  In January 2006, Vanity Fair published a cover feature and interview with Lindsay Lohan.

Eva Mendes, August 2007.
Eva Mendes, August 2007.
Jennifer Anniston, Jan 2009.
Jennifer Anniston, Jan 2009.

Hot Covers.  Newhouse magazines had generally been edging into more exotic territory with its covers.  In fact, during the 1999-2009 period, it ran covers that increasingly showed their female subjects in discreetly- posed nude or near-nude photos.  The May 1999 issue of W magazine had Cindy Crawford in a “naked-while-pregnant pose,” repeating the Demi Moore Vanity Fair cover.  The August 2002 cover of GQ magazine had model Heidi Klum posing nude with a birthday cake.  In February 2003, Kate Winslet appeared on GQ’s cover in sexy black lingerie.  For the October 2004 issue of GQ, Heidi Klum, named “Woman of the Year” appeared in just a scarf and thigh-high leather boots.  Paris Hilton went topless for the cover of Vanity Fair’s September 2005 issue, as did Jennifer Aniston for the December 2005 cover of GQ, wearing only jean shorts.  Heidi Klum was naked on the cover of Jane in August 2006, when “celebrities went bare for charity.”  For Vanity Fair’s “Young Hollywood” issue in 2006, Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightely appeared naked with designer Tom Ford, subjects shot by Annie Leibovitz.  In the August 2007 “celebrities pose naked for charity” issue of Jane, a nude Eva Mendes graced the cover with some strategically placed flowers.  And for the January 2009 issue of GQ, Jennifer Aniston posed in nothing but a red, white and blue men’s tie.  In February 2012, Time magazine voted three Newhouse/Condé Nast nude covers – Vanity Fair’s 1991 Demi Moore, Vanity Fair’s 2006 Young Hollywood threesome, and GQ‘s 2009 Jennifer Anniston with necktie  – among a “top ten” selection of such covers it reviewed. Vanity Fair, however, ran into a bit of controversy in April 2008 after some near- nude photos taken by Annie Leibovitz of Disney teen star, 15year-old Miley Cyrus, leaked out in a New York Times story.

Vogue’s Sept 2007 fashion issue, featuring actress and model Sienna Miller on its cover.
Vogue’s Sept 2007 fashion issue, featuring actress and model Sienna Miller on its cover.
     Fashion, of course, is a core part of the Newhouse /Condé Nast publishing and advertising world, with the venerable Vogue magazine and its iconic editor, Anna Wintour, among its biggest stars.  Wintour, in fact, was famously played by Meryl Streep in the 2006 film, The Devil Wears Prada.  If that weren’t enough, a documentary film was made about Vogue’s famous annual fall fahion issue.  The film, bearing the title, The September Issue, was released in 2009.  It chronicled the production of what was then the largest issue in Vogue magazine history, the September 2007 issue, running some 840 pages thick, 727 pages of which were ads.  The cover of that issue featured Sienna Miller along with its proudly proclaimed page count.

     “We stand for a certain world,” Anna Wintour would later tell New York magazine writer Steve Fishman in a 2009 interview.  “Women want to have pretty clothes.  I mean, it’s a question of self-respect too.”  In his New York article Fishman also quoted Wintour describing Vogue’s place in the publishing world as she pointed to some of the wares her magazine promoted:  “… Wintour tells me about Ralph Lauren’s new collection of watches, which inspires her.  They cost more, but they will last.  ‘He wants to be part of the culture, and I feel the same way about Vogue: I want Vogue to be there, part of the culture,’ she says.”

     Over at The New Yorker, meanwhile, the engaging stories and cover art of that magazine continued to be much-loved features, though occasionally generating notice with cover art that hit certain sensitive political or controversial  subjects.  Among these, perhaps most famously, was a July 2008 cover, meant as satire, that used cartoon renditions of then presidential candidate Barack Obama and his wife, depicting them as flag-burning, fist-bumping radicals —  she dressed as a revolutionary and he in muslim garb.  The artist, Barry Blitt, defended his work, saying “the idea that the Obamas are branded as unpatriotic in certain sectors is preposterous.  It seemed to me that depicting the concept would show it as the fear-mongering ridiculousness that it is.”  Editor David Remnick explained that the satire was deliberate and purposely overboard in order to mock all the phony smears that were being leveled at the Obamas.  Still, others – and notably Obama’s campaign at the time – thought the imagery was harmful.  Rachel Sklar writing in the Huffington Post, noted: “presumably the New Yorker readership is sophisticated enough to get the joke,” but she worried about those who might use the “handy illustration” to continue to spread the very scare tactics and misinformation depicted.  Other New Yorker covers during the 2000s captured economic problems such as “Red Death on Wall Street,” by artist Robert Risko that ran in the October 20, 2008 issue, or “S.O.S.,” by Christoph Niemann, that ran in the August 15/22, 2011 issue.  Two New Yorker covers in 2010 hit BP’s Gulf of Mexio oil spill – one from the June 7, 2010 issue that showed a man in a suit testifying before a Congressional-like panel of oil-saturated marine animals, and five weeks later, offering a visual play on Escher-like imagery, titled “After Escher: Gulf Sky and Water,” by artist Bob Staake, which reportedly “lit up the blogosphere,” as Staake cleverly modified the original Escher to include oil-drenched Gulf wildlife, with a pelican at the top and a turtle at the bottom.

Creating The Buzz
Si Newhouse

Si Newhouse, buzz-maker.
Si Newhouse, buzz-maker.
     With the Condé Nast group of publications in the last few decades there is no question that Si Newhouse has left a substantial stamp on contemporary culture.  New York Times reporter Richard Pérez-Pena, writing on Newhouse in July 2008 observed: “Over three decades, Si Newhouse has built Condé Nast from an elite boutique into one of the largest, most successful American media companies, an upscale arbiter of popular culture from fashion to fiction.”  He is sometimes compared to old-line publishers like Time-Life’s Henry Luce or newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst who also pursued personal interests through publishing.  But Si Newhouse also became known for focusing on the details of his magazines, and some say he ran his shop like a Hollywood producer, also personally taken with the film industry.  Graydon Carter, editor in chief of Vanity Fair, has said that the magazine’s annual “Hollywood issue” was Si Newhouse’s idea.  Over at Vogue, whenever Si Newhouse offered advice, according to editor Anna Wintour, “he’s always made the surprising choice rather than the safe choice.”  David Remnick, The New Yorker editor, has said much the same, describing Si Newhouse as the Babe Ruth of magazines, swinging for the fences.

Part of the sequence of 20 “celebrity pairs” used in Vanity Fair’s special Africa edition, July 2007.
Part of the sequence of 20 “celebrity pairs” used in Vanity Fair’s special Africa edition, July 2007.
     Si Newhouse enjoys having his magazines at the center of the cultural swirl, no question.  As New York Times reporter Richard Pérez-Pena, has observed: “More than almost anything else, acquaintances say, Mr. Newhouse delights in the buzz his magazines routinely create.  He welcomes controversies, like the recent brouhaha about the Obamas-as-terrorists cover of The New Yorker.  What tickles him often challenges convention, often embraces the new or novel, and often sells.”  Anna Wintour at Vogue has made similar comments:  “He likes the buzz, there’s no question.  If you have lunch with a celebrity or political figure, he’s thrilled to hear about it.”  Magazines in the Condé Nast group will sometimes go the extra mile to get attention and create the buzz their leader loves.  In July 2007, for example, Vanity Fair printed 20 different versions of its cover each featuring a famous celebrity pair.  The issue was guest-edited by U-2 rock star Bono and was dedicated to fighting poverty in Africa.  Each famous celebrity pair, in varying poses, was photographed by Annie Leibovitz, including: Maya Angelou, Desmond Tutu, Brad Pitt, Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush, George Clooney, Iman, Jay-Z, Warren Buffet, Bill and Melinda Gates, Muhammad Ali, and a young Illinois senator named Barack Obama.  The project was shot at locations around the globe and cost million do. But in the end, it paid for itself, according to Vanity Fair editor, Graydon Carter, as the buzz resulted in increased newsstand sales.

 

Hard Times at Newhouse

June 2009: New York magazine ran a cover story on part of the Newhouse empire, subtitled “Si Newhouse’s Condé Nast, a Good-Times Empire in a Hard-Times World.”
June 2009: New York magazine ran a cover story on part of the Newhouse empire, subtitled “Si Newhouse’s Condé Nast, a Good-Times Empire in a Hard-Times World.”
     In June 2009, New York magazine published a cover story titled, “The Last Old-Media Tycoon,” alluding to changes then assaulting the Newhouse empire.  The piece, written by Steve Fishman, focused mostly on the trendy magazine side of the business, referring to it as “Si Newhouse’s Dream Factory,” further elaborating with a subtitle that explained: “Condé Nast’s own stars compare their glossy empire to the MGM of Old Hollywood. But no one would wish it the same fate.”

     Yet hard times were taking a toll on the Newhouse publications and the family fortune.  In the first three months of 2009, The New Yorker’s ad pages were down 36 percent, and at Vogue and Vanity Fair, around 30 percent.  Wired’s  were down by almost 60 percent.  Between 2007 and 2009 Newhouse had closed nearly a dozen magazines, among them: Jane, House & Garden, Men’s Vogue, Golf for Women, Domino, Portfolio, Modern Bride, Elegant Bride, Gourmet, and Cookie.  Some of these, however, retained an on-line presence.  Fishman’s New York piece explained how Si Newhouse had grown up in the magazine business and loved magazines, and how it pained him personally to close them down.  But the nature of the Newhouse business was changing, as Fishman;s piece explained.  Some 40 percent of the family fortune now came from its stake in Discovery Communications, which ran cable and satellite TV networks with programs such as Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and TLC.

     Cash Cow Blues.  Newspapers – the stock and trade of the Newhouse rise – were also in trouble by this time.  What was once the reliable center of the Newhouse empire – at least with respect to its revenue-generating power – had become something of an albatross by the mid- and late 2000s.  Hit hard by the realities of the internet, some big Newhouse newspapers were bleeding badly.  In 2008, the Newark Star-Ledger for one may have lost as much as $40 million.  Circulation there had fallen by nine percent to 223,000 copies and newsroom staff cuts of 40 percent followed.  In 2009, The Ann Arbor News was reduced more or less to a website, AnnArbor.com, with a print edition appearing just two days a week using a fraction of its former staff to run the website.  Revenues for the Newhouse newspaper group plummeted 26 percent in 2009, to $1.3 billion, according to Ad Age.  In 2010, the slide continued at some papers, as circulation at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland — one of the biggest of the Newhouse papers — was down 7 percent during the six-months of March-August 2010 to an average of 253,000 copies.  More recently, in May 2012, it was revealed that The Times-Picayune daily newspaper in New Orleans, founded in 1837, would be reducing its print schedule, publishing a print edition three days a week while shifting more coverage on-line.

May 2012: The Times-Picayune of New Orleans announces print edition cutback and move to digital.
May 2012: The Times-Picayune of New Orleans announces print edition cutback and move to digital.
     Painful News Hits.  With the newspaper adjustments Newhouse has made in recent years, seasoned writers, reporters and columnists have lost their jobs. Layoffs at The Times-Picayune and three Newhouse-owned Alabama newspapers, for example, were pretty devastating.  At The Times- Picayune, 84 people in the newsroom were laid off, including some of the paper’s best-known reporters and columnists.  At the Alabama papers, 400 people lost jobs.  Some re-hires occurred at the papers, as new digital positions opened, but those positions were not the same.  In Alabama, for example, John Archibald, a columnist for The Birmingham News – known for the zingers he leveled at city and state political figures – was told he could return as a “local buzz reporter.”  Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial writer for that same paper, was told he could return as a “community engagement specialist.”  These are obviously not happy transitions for seasoned news journalists.  And given the sizeable contingent of Newhouse-owned newspapers around the country, it is likely this trend will continue in the years ahead.  Newhouse newspapers, however, are still capable of turning out nationally-important investigative stories, as demonstrated in 20011-2012 by The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Curiously, among buyers of newspapers recently has been Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor.  In April 2012, the Patriot- News and its reporter, Sara Ganim, received a Pulitzer Prize for “courageously revealing and adeptly covering the explosive Penn State [University] sex scandal involving former football coach Jerry Sandusky.”

     And at least in certain markets, newspapers still make good business sense.  Curiously, among buyers of newspapers recently has been Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor who has frequently had a keen eye for what’s likely to make money in the future.  His purchase of the Omaha World-Herald, where Buffett lives, may have been “one for the home town.”  Yet, his May 2012 acquisition of Media General’s 63 newspapers in the southeast U.S. may suggest that local advertising revenue is alive and well, and possibly more.  If nothing else, newspapers offer good bases for digital development and website expansion.

     Back at Newhouse, meanwhile, “Advance Digital” is growing alongside of, and in some cases may eventually supplant, much of the company’s newspaper empire.  The focus there is to build out a local news and information network of websites, each in alliance with one or more of the 25 Newhouse-owned newspapers presently affiliated with Advance Publications.  The Advance Digital websites provide local information, breaking news, local sports, travel destinations, weather, dining, bar guides and health and fitness information.  In its pitch to advertisers, showing a U.S. map with links to its 12 websites, Advance Digital says: “We are a leading network of local websites – we are affiliated with over 25 newspapers; we reach over 18.9 million consumers every month; and we have a large and diverse audience of educated and affluent professionals.” 

Reddit.com logo.
Reddit.com logo.
     Newhouse & The Web.   The Newhouse organization, however, and especially Si Newhouse, have been criticized for not making quicker and better use of the web.  Initially, Newhouse kept editors away from the web and viewed it simply as a vehicle for selling magazine subscriptions and little else.  For nearly a decade, Newhouse opposed purchasing Wired.com.  But after Donald Newhouse’s son, Steve Newhouse, pulled the deal together in 2006, the Wired website actually proved the more valuable piece of the business, outpacing the magazine itself, reaping sixteen times more unique visitors than the magazine had in circulation.  Still, according to Advertising Age, by 2008, only about 3 percent of Condé Nast ad revenues came from digital, among the lowest in its class.  Steve Newhouse, however, now in his early 50s, has been responsible for some web initiatives that may show the way forward, such as Epicurious.com and Style.com, both conceived as new brands for the company.  Other Newhouse managers and executives have also helped bring in iPad applications, which can showcase Newhouse magazine design strengths. In 2010, GQ magazine became the first Condé Nast title available on the iPad.  And as mentioned earlier, Reddit.com, the popular user-generated “social news” website, is now owned by Advance Publications, having been acquired by Condé Nast in October 2006 for an estimated $10-to-$20 milion.  Today Reddit.com has some 35 million users.

Actor Hugh Grant on the cover of Vanity Fair, Italy (Feb 2010), one of more than100 international Newhouse editions.
Actor Hugh Grant on the cover of Vanity Fair, Italy (Feb 2010), one of more than100 international Newhouse editions.
     More Video & TV.   In October 2011, Newhouse created Condé Nast Entertainment, an entity that will produce more video-styled content — including TV shows, web series and films — content derived from Newhouse journalists and its magazines, ranging from Vogue and GQ to The New Yorker and Vanity Fair.  Having long admired the ways of the Hollywood studios, the Newhouse Condé Nast entities may actually become more studio-like in their outlook and content development.  The chase for advertising dollars will be among the key drivers moving the Newhouse entities to more video and digital media. 

     Whether the Newhouse magazines can make this move with success, however, is an open question, as other publishers have tried similar moves in the past attempting to link to television and film that have failed.  One advantage in their favor, however,  may be the top-shelf nature of the Newhouse magazines and their premium-brand content, offering strong appeal to upscale consumers and advertisers.

     International Business.  In the last few years, another Newhouse manager, Si’s cousin Jonathan Newhouse, now in his early 60s, has made Condé Nast International a Newhouse growth area.  As of November 2010, he added Vogue in India and GQ in China.  Condé Nast International now has more than 100 editions.  The division also recently launched Condé Nast Restaurants, which plans to license the Vogue and GQ brands as eateries overseas.


Culture-Maker Still

The Newhouse-owned Vogue magazine released its record-breaking, 916-page fall fashion issue in September 2012 with Lady Gaga on the cover.
The Newhouse-owned Vogue magazine released its record-breaking, 916-page fall fashion issue in September 2012 with Lady Gaga on the cover.
     In the new swirl of media and technological change that is now sweeping through print and publishing,  the Newhouse empire is likely to roll on, both as a successful business entity and a continuing force in contemporary culture.  It will likely make the necessary digital adjustments and internal management changes to weather the most serious business threats.  The Condé Nast magazines, in particular, have been setting the cultural tone among the wealthier classes and avant- garde for the last three decades or more, and will not likely yield much ground in that arena to competitors.  Any doubt on that score, and what likely lies ahead, can be seen in the Vogue record-breaking tome of September 2012 – a 120th anniversary edition to boot! At 916 pages, featuring Lady Gaga on its cover, this issue of Vogue suggests – as Washington Post writer Ned Martel put it – “that even in bad times, someone is up for a good time.”  In the pages of Vogue, he says, “the forecast is always a little sunnier…”  And judging from the number of ad pages – 658, with single page rates in the September 2012 edition going for as much as $165,000 – the Newhouse empire would appear to be holding its own.



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Date Posted: 18 September 2012
Last Update: 18 September 2012
Comments to: jdoyle@pophistorydig.com

Article Citation:
Jack Doyle, “Empire Newhouse:1920s-2010s”
PopHistoryDig.com, September 18, 2012.

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Sources, Links & Additional Information

Sam Newhouse Sr. and wife Mitzi, possibly early 1970s.
Sam Newhouse Sr. and wife Mitzi, possibly early 1970s.
Vogue magazine, 15 August 1960, about a year after Newhouse acquired it and others.
Vogue magazine, 15 August 1960, about a year after Newhouse acquired it and others.
A sample cover of "Glamour" magazine, January 1971.
A sample cover of "Glamour" magazine, January 1971.
March 1981: Actor Jack Nicholson on cover of Newhouse-owned “GQ” magazine.
March 1981: Actor Jack Nicholson on cover of Newhouse-owned “GQ” magazine.
Actor Clint Eastwood on the cover of "Parade," the Sunday supplement magazine, October 23rd, 1983.
Actor Clint Eastwood on the cover of "Parade," the Sunday supplement magazine, October 23rd, 1983.
Inaugural March 1991 issue of “Allure,” a Condé Nast publication that  focuses on beauty, fashion, and women’s health, now with a circulation of 1 million plus.
Inaugural March 1991 issue of “Allure,” a Condé Nast publication that focuses on beauty, fashion, and women’s health, now with a circulation of 1 million plus.
November 1992: Democratic candidates Bill Clinton and Al Gore are featured on CQ’s cover with a story by Gore Vidal –  “Gore Vidal Punches the Ticket.”
November 1992: Democratic candidates Bill Clinton and Al Gore are featured on CQ’s cover with a story by Gore Vidal – “Gore Vidal Punches the Ticket.”
August 1993 Vanity Fair cover with model Cindy Crawford “shaving” famous lesbian singing star, k.d. Lang in drag, meant as a controversial statement.
August 1993 Vanity Fair cover with model Cindy Crawford “shaving” famous lesbian singing star, k.d. Lang in drag, meant as a controversial statement.
Vogue magazine cover with Hillary Clinton, December 1998, a tough time for the First Lady. Click for story.
Vogue magazine cover with Hillary Clinton, December 1998, a tough time for the First Lady. Click for story.
In 1998, Newhouse gained full control of “Wired” magazine, which focuses on a range of science & technology issues, often with stories in the life style and cultural realms, here featuring Pixar, June  2010.
In 1998, Newhouse gained full control of “Wired” magazine, which focuses on a range of science & technology issues, often with stories in the life style and cultural realms, here featuring Pixar, June 2010.
New Yorker cover of November 15, 2010, titled “Bumped,” by artist Barry Blitt, follows mid-term elections depicting President Obama in the Oval Office with Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), then  expected to replace Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House.  Boehner is shown offering his fist, while Obama extends his hand for a handshake.
New Yorker cover of November 15, 2010, titled “Bumped,” by artist Barry Blitt, follows mid-term elections depicting President Obama in the Oval Office with Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), then expected to replace Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House. Boehner is shown offering his fist, while Obama extends his hand for a handshake.
 

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Jonathan Friendly, “Newhouse’s Private Empire,” New York Times, Wednesday, October 12, 1983, p. D-1.

Frederick Ungeheuer, John Greenwald & David Beck, “Auditing the Grand Inquisitor,” Time, October 24, 1983.

Pamela G. Hollie, “Newhouse to Acquire 17% of The New Yorker,” New York Times, Wednesday, November 14, 1984, p. D-1.

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Katherine Roberts and Walter Goodman, “Newhouse Wants The New Yorker,” New York Times, Sunday, February 17, 1985, Week in Review, p. 7.

Eric N. Berg, “Newhouse Purchasing the New Yorker,” New York Times, Saturday, March 9, 1985, p.1.

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Carol J. Loomis & Rosalind Klein Berlin, “The Biggest Private Fortune: Media Magnates Si and Don Newhouse Control a $7.5-Billion Empire. It’s a Tightly Private Show, But There’s No Hiding Wealth This Big,” Fortune, August 17, 1987, p. 60.

Herbert Mitgang, “Random House Buys Crown,” New York Times, August 16, 1988.

Geraldine Fabrikant, “Si Newhouse Tests His Magazine Magic,” New York Times, September 25, 1988.

Albert Scardino, “Big Spender at Vanity Fair Raises the Ante for Writers,” New York Times, April 17, 1989.

N. R. Kleinfield, “The Media Business; Heads Have a History of Rolling at Newhouse,” New York Times, November 2, 1989.

Maggie Mahar, “All in the Family,” Barron’s, November 27, 1989.

Milton Moskowitz, Michael Katz & Robert Levering, “Newhouse,” Every- body’s Business: A Field Guide to the 400 Leading Companies in America, New York: Doubleday/Currency, 1990, pp. 359-361.

Deirdre Carmody, “Tina Brown to Take Over at The New Yorker,” New York Times, July 1, 1992.

Geraldine Fabrikant, “The Media Business; Vanity Fair Is Hot Property, But Profit Is Open Question,” New York Times, July 13, 1992.

“New Yorker’s New Face: Malcolm X,” New York Daily News, Monday, October 5, 1992.

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Geoffrey Foisie and Rich Brown, “Time Warner Entertainment: A Big MSO Gets Bigger,” Broadcasting & Cable, September 19, 1994, p. 12.

Tim Jones, “Unwanted Biography Reveals Newhouse,” Chicago Tribune, November 29, 1994.

Patrick J.Pain & James R. Talbot (eds), “Advance Publications, Inc.,” Hoover’s Handbook of American Companies 1996, Austin, Texas: The Reference Press, Inc., August 1995, pp.48-49.

Thomas Maier, Newhouse: All the Glitter, Power, & Glory of America’s Richest Media Empire & the Secretive Man Behind It, New York: St. Martin’s Press,1995, 446pp.

Linda Fibich (Newhouse News Service’s national editor), Book Review, “The Newhouse Media Empire,” American Journalism Review, January/February 1995.

Sandra McElwaine, “Newhouse: Book Reviews,” Washington Monthly, Jan-Feb, 1995.

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Geraldine Fabrikant, “Disney to Sell Publications Inherited With Capital Cities,” New York Times, January 29, 1997.

Geraldine Fabrikant, “Book Deal: The Seller; ‘Planning Our Future,’ Newhouse Brothers Say,” New York Times, March 24, 1998.

Paul D. Colford, “Newhouse Magazines Bask in Glow of Multiple Nomina- tions,”Los Angeles Times, March 26, 1998.

Doreen Carvajal, “Media; Newhouse’s Legacy Lives In Publisher,” New York Times, March 30, 1998.

Nora Rawlinson, “The Random House Acquisition: An Interview with S.I. Newhouse,” Publisher’s Weekly, April 3, 1998.

Warren St. John, “So Why Did Newhouse Sell Random House to Bertelsmann Boys?,” The New York Observer, March 30, 1998.

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Christine Schiavo, “Chain Buys Express-times Of Easton In Newhouse Group, Newspaper Joins Star-Ledger, Parade Magazine,” The Morning Call (Allentown, PA), July 6, 2000.

Alex Kuczynski, “The Media Business; Goodbye to Mademoiselle: Condé Nast Closes Magazine,” New York Times, October 2, 2001.

Leslie Bennetts, “The Unsinkable Jennifer Aniston,” Vanity Fair, Septem- ber 2005.

Matthew Flamm, “Advance Publications at Crossroads: Newhouse Family’s Business Units Fight to Keep up with Times as Succession Changes Loom,” CrainsNew York.com, November 21, 2010.

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W ( magazine),” Wikipedia.org.

Howard Kurtz, “When Art Gives Offense,” Washington Post, Tuesday, July 15, 2008.

Stephanie Clifford, “Condé Nast Closes Gourmet and 3 Other Magazines,” New York Times, October 5, 2009.

“Shrinking Condé Nast “(a nifty interactive graphic on Condé Nast publications), New York Times, October 6, 2009.

Michael Hogan, “Our Man Dominick,” Vanity Fair, November 2009.

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“Top 10 Nude Magazine Covers,” Time.com, February 28, 2012.

Jeff Bercovici, “Condé Nast Swaggers Into the Entertainment Business,” Forbes, October 11, 2011.

Jeff Bercovici, “Condé Nast’s Open Secret: SI Newhouse No Longer In Charge,” Forbes, November 21,2011.

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Steve Jordon, World-Herald Staff Writer, “Buffett to Buy 63 Newspapers,” Omaha.com, May 18, 2012.

Ned Martel, “The Hope of Heft: In Tough Times, Vogue’s Fantasies and Huge Size Life Spirits – And Forecasts,” Washington Post, August 29, 2012, p. C-1.


Other Stories at This Website on Newspaper & Magazine Topics:

Jack Doyle, “Newsweek Sold!, 1961″ (history of Washington Post’s acquisition of Newsweek), PopHistoryDig.com, April 16, 2008.

Jack Doyle, “FDR & Vanity Fair, 1930s”(politics & publishing during the New Deal era), PopHistoryDig.com, November 2, 2009.

Jack Doyle, “Murdoch’s NY Deals,1976-1977″ (Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper& magazine growth), PopHistoryDig.com, September 25, 2010.

Jack Doyle, “Rockwell & Race, 1963-1968,” (Rockwell art at Sat Eve Post & Look magazines), Pop HistoryDig.com, September 23, 2011.



 



“FDR & Vanity Fair”
1930s

Caricature of NY Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt on the September 1932 cover of ‘Vanity Fair’, by Mexican artist Miguel Covarrubias  (artist bio featured later below).
Caricature of NY Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt on the September 1932 cover of ‘Vanity Fair’, by Mexican artist Miguel Covarrubias (artist bio featured later below).
     Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) was in his second term as governor of New York when he was nominated to run for President at the June 1932 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.  America was then three years into the Great Depression. During the fall election campaign, Vanity Fair, a magazine of the arts and culture based in New York, put a caricature of Roosevelt on its September 1932 cover.  The illustration — by Mexican-American artist Miguel Covarrubias — featured a dapper, blue-eyed and smiling FDR against a background of an American flag’s red and white stripes.  This would be the first of about a dozen Vanity Fair covers that would either feature FDR, his programs, or the situation in Washington and nation during the early- and mid-1930s.  Vanity Fair, although primarily a magazine of arts and culture, would use its magazine covers, its artists, and its inside pages to draw attention to Roosevelt’s programs and his time in office through late 1935, as the magazine ceased publishing shortly thereafter.  A review of some of that coverage — focused primarily on the cover art — follows below, along with a few sketches of the artists involved, cover subject, and the politics of the day.

Herbert Hoover was the first political figure on a ‘Vanity Fair’ cover, Oct 1931.  Hoover was then blamed for much of the nation’s economic woes, as the Depression arrived on his watch. Here, the artist extends him a bouquet of flowers in appreciation for his moratorium on Germany's reparations payments, which helped protect Europe from financial chaos.  (Miguel Covarrubias)
Herbert Hoover was the first political figure on a ‘Vanity Fair’ cover, Oct 1931. Hoover was then blamed for much of the nation’s economic woes, as the Depression arrived on his watch. Here, the artist extends him a bouquet of flowers in appreciation for his moratorium on Germany's reparations payments, which helped protect Europe from financial chaos. (Miguel Covarrubias)
     Also portrayed on the September 1932 cover above, in the lower right-hand corner, is an “everyman” mug of beer, symbolizing Roose- velt’s pledge to end Prohibition.  The national ban on alcohol had been in effect since January 1920, and calling for Prohibition’s end would be popular with many voters.  “Franklin D. Roosevelt’s stand on prohibition in the present campaign,” wrote one New York Times reporter, “is wetter than Alfred E. Smith’s was four years ago…” [when Smith, former Democratic Governor of New York, ran for President].  In fact, the shift in the Democrats’ position on Prohibition between 1928 and 1932, observed the reporter, was like going  from the Gobi Desert to the Mediterranean Sea. 

     Roosevelt, of course,  had more on his mind than Prohibition.  He was keenly focused on the nation’s dire economic straits.  During his campaigning from July through October of 1932, he promised a program of social reconstruction and federal support of the economy — programs aimed at the “forgotten man.”  He stressed the need for an economy that would foster a more balanced distribution of wealth with the least possible federal interference.  One of the contributing causes of the Depression, according to some economists at the time, was the concentration of wealth in the stock market and other capital accumulation that was being held back and not being spent or circulated in the wider economy.

     FDR’s opponent, the incumbent president, Republican Herbert Hoover — who presided over the stock market crash of 1929 and the onset of the Depression — called for private enterprise solutions, charging that Roosevelt’s program was socialistic.  Yet on Hoover’s watch, the Depression had some of its worst years.  GNP in 1932 had fallen a record 13.4 percent; unemployment rose to 23.6 percent.  Industrial stocks had lost 80 percent of their value since 1930.  Some 10,000 banks had failed since 1929, and GNP had fallen a total 31 percent.  Over 13 million Americans had lost their jobs since 1929 and international trade was off by two-thirds.  Congress had passed the Federal Home Loan Bank Act and the Glass-Steagall Act of 1932, and the nation’s top tax rate had been increased.  But public opinion considered Hoover’s measures too little too late.  More on the Depression and FDR’s election in a moment.  But first some background on Vanity Fair.


Vanity Fair, 1930s

New York mayor Jimmy Walker was the featured caricature on the April 1932 cover of ‘Vanity Fair,” shown here welcoming himself to New York.
New York mayor Jimmy Walker was the featured caricature on the April 1932 cover of ‘Vanity Fair,” shown here welcoming himself to New York.
     By the 1930s, Vanity Fair, owned by New York publisher Conde’ Nast, was an established culture and society magazine catering to a somewhat upper-crust, avant garde readership.  In 1909, Nast had started a fashion magazine named Vogue.  Four years later in 1913, he acquired two other magazines — one called Dress, and another named Vanity Fair from Britain.  The former was a men’s fashion magazine.  Vanity Fair had flourished in Britain since the 1860s as a society magazine with theater and book reviews, serialized fiction, reports on social events and scandals, and more.  It had taken its name from its use in John Bunyan’s 17th-century The Pilgrim’s Progress, and William Thackeray’s 19th-century novel, Vanity Fair.  After pur- chasing the two magazines, Nast decided to merge them into a new publication called Dress & Vanity Fair, which lasted only four issues before it was re-launched in January 1914 as simply Vanity Fair.  This came about after Conde’ Nast sought the advice of a well-known New York editor named Frank Crowninshield who said the magazine should cover “the things people talk about.  Parties, the arts, sports, theater, humor, and so forth.”  Crowninshield became Vanity Fair’s editor not long thereafter, and would preside over its output for the next 22 years.

     By the mid-1920s Vanity Fair was one of America’s leading culture chroniclers.  It contained writing by top writers of the day, including Thomas Wolfe, T. S. Eliot and P. G. Wodehouse, theater criticisms by Dorothy Parker, and photographs by Edward Steichen; Claire Booth Luce was one of its editors for a time.  From the fall of 1931, the magazine’s covers ran, in varying order, the words “Art,” People” “Politics” “Satire,” “Sports,” “Humor,” “Books,” “Stage” along one or two of its outer borders (see issues above and below for examples).  Politics seemed to gain somewhat more visibility on VF’s covers at about that time, as well.  In fact, no political figure had appeared on the cover prior to October 1931, as the magazine’s covers had focused primarily on subjects related to the arts.  Herbert Hoover was the first political figure to be caricatured on a Vanity Fair cover — appearing on the October 1931 issue shown above.  He was followed by others, including various world leaders: India’s Mahatma Ghandi in November 1931, Britain’s prime minister Ramsay MacDonald in January 1932, and New York Mayor Jimmy Walker in April 1932 (shown above).  U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Andrew Mellon was featured on the May 1932 cover, following his departure from office (see below).  Germany’s elderly chancellor Paul von Hindenburg appeared on the cover June 1932; Hindenburg had then narrowly defeated Hitler in a runoff election that April.  The magazine also put caricatures of dictators Benito Mussolini of Italy and Adolf Hitler, respectively, on its October and November 1932 covers (shown later below).

The only other Hoover-era official to be featured on a VF cover was Treasury Secretary, Andrew Mellon, in May 1932, shown in white chin beard with coin atop his head. Unpopular at the onset of the Depression, Mellon faced scandal & impeachment with many calling for his removal, forcing Hoover to name him as an ambassador (artist, Paolo Garretto).
The only other Hoover-era official to be featured on a VF cover was Treasury Secretary, Andrew Mellon, in May 1932, shown in white chin beard with coin atop his head. Unpopular at the onset of the Depression, Mellon faced scandal & impeachment with many calling for his removal, forcing Hoover to name him as an ambassador (artist, Paolo Garretto).
     FDR first appeared on a Vanity Fair cover with the September 1932 cover shown at the top of this article.  Throughout the next three years, caricatures and drawings of FDR, New Deal programs, Uncle Sam, and the state of the nation’s economy would be depicted by various artists on Vanity Fair covers.  Inside the magazine as well, articles on FDR’s programs and administration, and sometimes photographs of its officials and/or critical opponents, would also appear during this period.

     A typical Vanity Fair issue in the 1930s had four main sections — “Articles,” included short pieces written on the issues of the day, covering film, books, theater, politics and other subjects; “Short Stories” ran pieces of fiction and nonfiction; “Photographs,” usually a dozen or so large-to-medium sized, featured stage and screen stars and other notables, some of portraiture quality; and finally “Art and Caricature,” featuring paintings by new artists, satirical and comic drawings, and caricatures of celebrities and other notables.  Advertising pages were positioned in the front and back of the magazine, running ten to twelve pages in each section, with the magazine’s core content in the middle.

     By the 1930s, Vanity Fair was at its peak, with a circulation at just under 90,000 — certainly no threat to the larger circulating Saturday Evening Post, then in the millions-per-week.  Vanity Fair’s circulation by 1935 was 88,000, compared to 553,577 at Time, 127,959 at the New Yorker, and 155,476 at Vogue, a sister magazine also owned by Conde’ Nast.  Vanity Fair, however, wasn’t after the mass audience; it catered to a more sophisticated readership; one that followed art, film, literature, and to a lesser extent, politics, too — what might today be called the “influentials” or “opinion-makers” market.  However, by the mid-1930s, the magazine had fallen out of sync with the times, and would become a casualty of the Great Depression.  With the poor economy and the rise of Fascism at the forefront of readers’ minds, subscribers moved to more no-nonsense news coverage.  Declining advertising revenues were also a factor, although Conde’ Nast was happy to subsidize this magazine with other revenue.  Still, in 1936 Vanity Fair was folded into Conde’ Nast’s Vogue magazine.  It would make a comeback in the 1980s.  But prior to its first ending — during that early- and mid-1930s time of economic difficulty and political change — Vanity Fair did its share to cover and spotlight politics, with FDR and his programs getting a fair amount of play and artist attention.  A further sampling of some of that coverage continues below.

Vanity Fair’s February 1933 ‘valentine’ cover to President-elect Franklin Roosevelt and Vice President-elect, Rep. John Nance Garner, prior to their March 1933 swearing in.   (Miguel Covarrubias)
Vanity Fair’s February 1933 ‘valentine’ cover to President-elect Franklin Roosevelt and Vice President-elect, Rep. John Nance Garner, prior to their March 1933 swearing in. (Miguel Covarrubias)


February 1933
Roosevelt Elected

     Roosevelt won the 1932 election in a landslide with a popular vote of 22.8 million to Hoover’s 15.7 million.  He also swamped Hoover in the electoral vote, 472 to 59.  But the new president would not be sworn in until March 1933, as was then the custom.  Vanity Fair, meanwhile, offered a Valentine caricature on its February 1933 cover depicting the new president-elect and his former foe, Vice President-elect John Nance Garner, a U.S. Congressman from Texas and then Speaker of the House.  Garner had initially ran against Roosevelt for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 1932, becoming one of Roosevelt’s most serious opponents.  When it became evident that Roosevelt would win the nomination, Garner cut a deal with the front-runner, becoming Roosevelt’s Vice Presidential candidate.  This cover was another from artist Miguel Covarrubias who by this date had already done a number of caricatures for VF covers, as well as inside pieces (see artist profile below).  FDR, meanwhile, had begun his fireside chats on radio as a way to directly communicate with the American people.

‘Fickle Washington’ –  May 1933 ‘Vanity Fair’ cover.  Artist: Vladimir Bobritsky.
‘Fickle Washington’ – May 1933 ‘Vanity Fair’ cover. Artist: Vladimir Bobritsky.


May 1933
“Fickle Washington”

     In the May 1933 edition of Vanity Fair, a cover scene depicting “fickle” Washington, D.C. was  offered by artist Vladimir Bobritsky.  The cover showed half the scene full of sunshine, blue skies, and flag-flying patriotism, with the other half terrorized by storm clouds and lightening, suggesting the city’s unpredictable and whimsical political nature — patriotic and optimistic one minute, foreboding and disastrous the next.  FDR and his Administration at this time were in the middle of their first “100 days” in office, cranking out all manner of new laws in the March-through-June 1933 period to help right the nation’s economic course  — from providing relief payments to states, to raising farm prices.  Inside this issue of Vanity Fair, meanwhile, there was also an article by writer Jay Franklin, entitled “Not a Cabinet But a Coalition,” describing Roosevelt’s selection of cabinet members.

     Among Roosevelt’s main problems when he first took office was the banking crisis.  Runs on banks had forced bank failures and official “bank holidays.”  Emergency banking powers were among the first laws enacted, giving the government the power to reopen banks once declared secure.  Related to the banking and financial issues was gold and gold trading.


June 1933
“Wailing Wall”

The June 1933 cover of ‘Vanity Fair’ offered ‘The Wailing Wall of Gold’ by artist Miguel Covarrubias.
The June 1933 cover of ‘Vanity Fair’ offered ‘The Wailing Wall of Gold’ by artist Miguel Covarrubias.
     In the 1920s, European governments and the U.S. had tied their currencies to gold.  But a rise in demand for gold through 1928 had a depressionary effect on the price of goods.  Abandonment of gold standard, it was thought, would allow more money to be put into circulation, though creating mild inflation.  Soon, governments began abandoning the gold standard; the U.K did so in September 1931, with Sweden shortly thereafter and other European nations somewhat later.  At his inauguration, and as one of his emergency actions in March 1933, Roosevelt had put an embargo on the withdrawal of gold for export or domestic use.  And by mid-April 1933, FDR took the U.S. off the gold standard for its currency.  This caused the dollar to decline in foreign exchanges, but commodities and stocks rose in the American market.  The net effect was to make money more available to Americans and thereby, stimulate the economy.  However, during 1933, there was still much debate on the matter of gold in international circles, especially by France, which sought a return to the gold standard, and at one point had alluded to an allied force of western nations acting in unison as a “wall of gold” also called a “gold bloc.”  This debate on gold appears to have caught the attention of Vanity Fair in its June 1933 issue, with artist Miguel Covarrubias depicting the various national symbols in caricature — Uncle Sam, John Bull, etc. — commiserating at “The Wailing Wall of Gold.”  In mid-June 1933, at the London Economic Conference, there would be more debate about gold.  In the U.S., meanwhile, the dollar was allowed to float freely on foreign exchange markets with no guaranteed price in gold.  Markets responded well to the suspension, although initially it was assumed to be temporary.  There would be continued debate for a time on the pros and cons of the gold standard, but the U.S. and other nations did not return to it.

Miguel Covarrubias
Artist Profile

Covarrubias at work on a mural, 1939. Photo, Life magazine.
Covarrubias at work on a mural, 1939. Photo, Life magazine.
     Miguel Covarrubias (b.1904- d.1957) is the Mexican-American painter, illustrator, caricaturist, and writer who did numerous works and covers for Vanity Fair, Vogue, The New Yorker, Fortune, Life and Time.  He also did illustrations for more than 20 books.  For Vanity Fair, he was one of a handful of artists who helped give the magazine its distinctive image in the 1930s.  The Vanity Fair covers of FDR and Herbert Hoover that appear above, as well as several others throughout this article, feature his work.  Covarrubias covered a range of subjects.  Working from the 1920s-1950s, his art explored the Harlem renaissance; Bali, Mexican, and Caribbean cultures; relations between Mexico and the U.S., and more.  He arrived in New York in 1923 at the age of 18 on a scholarship from the Mexican govern- ment having contributed illustrations to popular Latin American newspapers.  By 1924, Vanity Fair’s editor, Frank Crownshield, had begun to use his work in the magazine and he soon became a regular contributor.  A book of his caricatures — The Prince of Wales and Other Famous Americans — was published in 1925 and was a hit.  By 1926 Covarrubias had become one of the most hopeful new caricaturists in America and would soon become as well known as some of his celebrity subjects.  He also did some famous illustrations for advertising, such as an award-winning “American in Paris” drawing for Steinway & Sons pianos.
Impossible Interview: Al Capone v. Chief Justice Hughes, 1932.
Impossible Interview: Al Capone v. Chief Justice Hughes, 1932.

     At Vanity Fair, Covarrubias also became noted for the magazine’s “Impossible Interviews” series of caricatures that featured unlikely pairings of public figures from opposing sides of the political and/or social spectrums.  Each sketch was accompanied by a short and witty caption or contrived dialogue.  The sketches were usually of two famous people unlikely to even be in the same room with one another — i.e., mob boss Al Capone and Chief Justice Charles Hughes; conservative and moralist, U.S. Senator Smith W. Brookhart (R-IA) and movie star Marlene Dietrich; writer Gertrude Stein and comedienne Gracie Allen; movie star Clark Gable and the Prince of Wales; J. D. Rockefeller and Josef Stalin; dancer/stripper Sally Rand with modern dance pioneer Martha Graham; and others.

Benito Mussolini cover by Miguel Covarrubias, Oct 1932.
Benito Mussolini cover by Miguel Covarrubias, Oct 1932.

     Through his exposure at Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and other outlets, a great demand for Covarrubias’ art developed.  Throughout the 1930s he continued designing covers for Vanity Fair and Vogue.  Among others he sketched or caricatured were D.H. Lawrence, Joe Louis, Walt Disney, Benny Goodman, and scenes from the 1943 Broadway musical, Carmen Jones.  Covarrubias would later leave Manhattan and return to Mexico, undertaking a study of the anthropology and ethnology of ancient American cultures, while also writing and teaching. He had wide-ranging interests, from archeology and folk art to theater and dance. choreography.  He counted among his friends and associates both the Whitney and Rockefeller families, as well as leftist causes and known communists such as Diego Rivera.  In 1950, as the U.S. descended into its McCarthyism hysteria, Covarrubias, under scrutiny from the FBI 1943, was labeled a threat to national security.  Without visas for U.S. travel, his career took a turn for the worse.  He died in 1957 due to complications from ulcers.  His art survives today, and is periodically shown in American, Mexican, and other museums.


Paolo Garretto's rendition of Uncle Sam in the shape of numeral “4” featured on the July 1933 cover of ‘Vanity Fair.’
Paolo Garretto's rendition of Uncle Sam in the shape of numeral “4” featured on the July 1933 cover of ‘Vanity Fair.’
 


July 1933
“Despondent Sam”

     The July 1933 issue of Vanity Fair featured artist Paolo Garretto’s rendition of Uncle Sam in the shape of an Independence Day numeral “4.”  Garretto portrays a despondent Sam, head in hands, seated in the western hemisphere, with storm clouds above.  Although a number of FDR’s New Deal programs had been launched, domestically there was little to cheer about, as the economy was dismal.  Overseas, the picture was also dire, with the U.S. set apart from its European allies over international monetary policy.  Roosevelt’s rejection of an agreement reached in mid-June at the London Economic Conference resulted in an overwhelmingly negative response from the British and French, as well as inter- nationalists at home.  Also in Europe, the Nazis in Germany by this time had already staged massive public book burnings, and had forbidden all non-Nazi political parties.


 August 1933
“The Sporting Life”

Vanity Fair’s August 1933 cover focuses on professional athletes of the day, with the exception of FDR on his yacht, bottom center.
Vanity Fair’s August 1933 cover focuses on professional athletes of the day, with the exception of FDR on his yacht, bottom center.
     Taking a break from the otherwise dismal news of that time, the August 1933 cover of Vanity Fair, featured various star athletes of that era as caricatured by Constantin Aladjálov  (see background on him below at 1935 Ringmaster cover).  Among those included in this cover offering were New York Yankee baseball slugger Babe Ruth and tennis champions Helen Wills and Ellsworth Vines.  Also shown was polo player Tommy Hitchcock, Jr., as polo in the early 1930s was having one of its greatest eras, not only surviving during the Depression, but expanding with a rising number of clubs and recognized national players.  Hithcock was one of the latter, known as “a ten-goaler” who for 20 years was an American favorite.  Also shown on this Vanity Fair cover are several boxing athletes, among them Germany’s Max Schmel- ing, who was heavyweight champion between 1930 and 1932, shown wearing a swastika.  He is flanked by two other smaller boxers, one a Jewish boxer adorned with the Star of David, possibly Barney Ross, a lightweight and welterweight fighter at that time, and on the other side of Schmeling, possibly Jimmy McLarnin, a popular Irish boxer and welterweight champion, shown wearing a shamrock on his sweater.  Golf champion Gene Sarazen is also shown.  And finally, though not an athlete, FDR is shown at the bottom of the magazine in a caricature by artist Constantin Alajalov, as a high society yachtsman.
‘Vanity Fair’ cover of October 1933 issue contrasts the ‘Aristocrat’ fat cat of 1929's pre-crash stock market boom, with the ‘down-and-out’ hobo of 1933's  Great Depression.
‘Vanity Fair’ cover of October 1933 issue contrasts the ‘Aristocrat’ fat cat of 1929's pre-crash stock market boom, with the ‘down-and-out’ hobo of 1933's Great Depression.


October 1933
Fat Cat & Hobo

     The October 1933 issue of Vanity Fair, while not on FDR or the New Deal per see, focused on the contrasting economics of boom and bust in the years 1929 and 1933.  Two silhouette characters are featured, shown as cut-outs from newspaper stock market numbers — one shown as a stout, wealthy aristocrat with cigar for the year 1929, pre-crash, and the other, as a down-and-out hobo for the much-deflated realities and hard times of 1933.  The two characters portrayed the vast difference between America’s financial attitudes in 1929 and 1933 and the still dire straits that then existed.  Roosevelt’s New Deal, meanwhile, unveiled the Civil Works Administration in early November 1933, a government program designed to create jobs through new federal, state, and local projects.  Eventually, about $1 billion would be spent on nearly 400,000 projects.  Rural America, at that time, was also being ravaged by fierce dust storms.  A particularly strong storm on November 11th, 1933 stripped farmland badly in South Dakota — one in a series of disastrous storms that year.  Rural America was being hit doubly hard — by natural events bordering on catastrophe plus the Depression.  By the end of the year, some 2,000 rural schools would not open for the fall semester and 2.3 million eligible children were not in school.  In addition, throughout the nation, a number of colleges and universities were forced to close and some 200,000 teachers were out of work.


February 1934
FDR to The Rescue?

Cover of Vanity Fair’s February 1934 issue, showing FDR on a ‘rough ride.’
Cover of Vanity Fair’s February 1934 issue, showing FDR on a ‘rough ride.’
     In the early days of Roosevelt’s administration in 1933-34, cartoonists and caricaturists tended to show him as a confident, strong, and energetic leader whose intentions for the nation were good and hopeful.  These cartoons and renderings suggested an American faith in their president and that he could lead the nation out of hard times.  The cover of the February 1934 issue of Vanity Fair at left, with caricature of FDR by artist Leon Carlin, shows a smiling President Roosevelt riding a bucking horse in the shape of the United States, suggesting he’s on a rough ride but in control and seemingly optimistic with the outcome.

     In January 1934, in his message to Congress, FDR had requested $10.5 billion to advance his recovery programs over the next 18 months.  In January, Congress also passed the Gold Reserve Act which empowered the president to fix the value of the dollar in terms of its relation to gold, all aimed at giving the Federal government control over fluctuations in the value of the dollar.  By late February, Congress would pass the Crop Loan Act to continue programs by the Farm Credit Administration through 1934 to insure that farmers were given loans for crop production and harvesting.  More farm programs would follow that spring.

March 1934 cover of ‘Vanity Fair’ showing FDR drawing superimposed over field of political figures of that day.
March 1934 cover of ‘Vanity Fair’ showing FDR drawing superimposed over field of political figures of that day.


March 1934
FDR & Politics

     In mounting his economic recovery programs, FDR was doing battle on a variety of fronts and dealing with an array of special interests.  To give an idea of his political engagement and influence at the end of his first year in office, Vanity Fair’s March 1934 issue offered cover art with a line drawing of the president’s face superimposed over a field of other political and business figures of that time — more tableau than political statement, although FDR friends and foes were both depicted.  A number of the caricatured faces came from earlier works by various VF artists, including those of Miguel Covar- rubias, Will Cotton, and others.  The green line drawing of FDR’s face, though not attributed, could be the work of another artist, possibly Jean Carlu, who had also done cover art for Vanity Fair in the early 1930s.

     The New Deal by then was encountering opposition from both ends of the political spectrum.  Unions had sparked job actions in various places across the country.  A prominent left-wing threat to Roosevelt came from U.S. Senator, Huey P. Long, Democrat of Louisiana, who railed at the New Deal for not doing enough.  Long is shown in a smaller Miguel Covarrubias caricature near the top of this cover beneath the “N” in “Vanity Fair.”  To the immediate left of Long, in a larger facial caricature, is Al Smith, former New York Governor and 1928 Democratic Presidential candidate.  Smith founded the American Liberty League in 1934 to attack New Deal programs as fostering unnecessary “class conflict.”  Eleanor Roosevelt  — FDR’s wife and sphere of New Deal influence in her own right — is shown on the cover at bottom-center, beneath FDR’s chin, in a drawing by artist Will Cotton.

U.S. Senator William Borah, R-Idaho.
U.S. Senator William Borah, R-Idaho.
     Another of Will Cotton’s faces on this cover is that of Senator William Edgar Borah, Republican of Idaho.  By the time of Roosevelt’s election in 1932, Borah was an established Republican and Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  In 1932, unhappy with the conservative policies of President Herbert Hoover in light of the Great Depression, Borah refused to publicly endorse Hoover’s reelection campaign.  As Dean of the Senate, Borah supported certain components of the New Deal, such as old-age pensions and the confiscation of U.S. citizens’ gold by executive order, but opposed others, including the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) and the Agricultural Adjustment Act.  He fought the National Recovery Adminstation (NRA) because he believed it would promote monopoly and would work against the small, independent businessmen that he believed were the bedrock of American economic democracy.  Borah made defending the interests of small business the focus of an unsuccessful bid for the 1936 Republican presidential nomination.

Chief Justice Hughes, from March 1934 VF cover.
Chief Justice Hughes, from March 1934 VF cover.
     Also on this cover, in the upper right hand corner beneath the title line, is a Miguel Covarrubias caricature of Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Charles Evans Hughes.  Hughes was appointed by Herbert Hoover as Chief Justice in 1930.  His appointment was opposed by progressive elements in both parties who felt that he was too friendly to big business.  Hughes, however, often aligned with Justices Louis Brandeis, Harlan Fiske Stone, and Benjamin Cardozo in finding FDR’s New Deal measures to be Constitutional, although he would write the opinion invalidating the National Recovery Administration in1935 and also led the fight against FDR’s attempt to pack the U.S. Supreme Court.  Also on this Vanity Fair cover, directly below Hughes, is Oliver Wendell Holmes, caricatured with the long white mustache by artist Will Cotton.  Holmes was also a famous Supreme Court judge, who served for over 30 years.  Holmes had just retired from the court in 1932.

Journalist Arthur Brisbane from March 1934 VF cover.
Journalist Arthur Brisbane from March 1934 VF cover.
     Arthur Brisbane is shown near the top of the March 1934 Vanity Fair cover, beneath the title line, in a Miguel Covarrubias caricature.  Brisbane was one of the most widely read newspaper columnists in America at the time.  His “Today” column — published in 1,000 daily and weekly newspapers for two decades — was then read by 20 million people.  He had worked for Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World in the 1890s.  But in 1897, William Randolph Hearst made him managing editor of his New York Evening Journal, where Brisbane became a practitioner of sensational-style “yellow journalism.”  He also became a close friend to Hearst and a well-paid editor.  Brisbane interviewed or conversed with nearly all the U. S. presidents during his career, and had visited FDR at Hyde Park during his first presidential run in 1932.  Brisbane’s columns often ran on the front page of Hearst newspapers.  As long as Hearst and FDR were getting along, Brisbane’s columns, typically conservative, were restrained with regard to the New Deal.  But after 1934, they turned more critical, accusing the New Deal of taking the country down the road toward communism.  Hearst had helped Roosevelt get the Democratic nomination and become president in 1933.  But Roosevelt had alienated Hearst with New Deal regulations, taxes, and spending programs.  Hearst was once in labor’s corner too, but came to see unions as a threat to his newspaper empire.  Brisbane had made a similar turn.  In the 1961 biography, Citizen Hearst, by W.A. Swanberg, Brisbane is described as “a one-time socialist who had drifted pleasantly into the profit system… in some respects a vest-pocket Hearst — … a liberal who had grown conservative, an investor.”  Brisbane’s columns continued until his death in 1936.

Walter Lippman caricature from March 1934 VF cover.
Lippman caricature from March 1934 VF cover.
     Another journalist, Walter Lippmann (b.1889- d. 1974) — shown inside FDR’s “chin” on the March 1934 cover in a Miguel Covarrubias caricature — had been an editor at the New Republic in 1914-17.  Lippmann became Assistant Secretary of War during WWI and worked at the New York World newspaper in the 1920s.  In 1931 he began writing for the New York Herald Tribune and soon had a highly influential syndicated column.  His early books, such as Public Opinion (1922), and A Preface to Morals (1929) championed liberalism, and he was an early supporter of FDR the New Deal, but he later became disillusioned and an FDR and New Deal critic.  In 1936, he would support Republican Alf Landon for president, leading some to conclude he had become a reactionary, though he was a defender of liberal principles, as found in a later book, The Good Society.  Lippmann would win a special Pulitzer Prize citation in 1958 praising his powers of news analysis.

     All of the other faces on the March 1934 cover of Vanity Fair are also those of various political and business figures of that day.


June & Sept 1934
FDR’s “Brain Trusts”

Artist Paolo Garretto gives Washington’s Capitol building a ‘brain trust’ look with scholarly glasses and a mortarboard for the June 1934 cover of Vanity Fair.
Artist Paolo Garretto gives Washington’s Capitol building a ‘brain trust’ look with scholarly glasses and a mortarboard for the June 1934 cover of Vanity Fair.
     Throughout his New Deal tenure, Franklin Roosevelt had a group of key advisors — university educated, wise men and women who helped him launch, revise, and relaunch various New Deal programs during 1933-1936.  This “team-of-experts” approach seems to have originated with speechwriter and legal counsel Samuel Rosenman who suggested in March 1932 that FDR have an academic team to advise him.  It wasn’t wholly unprecedented, however, as Presi- dent Woodrow Wilson had a group of academic advisors in 1917 to help him prepare for peace negotiations following World War I.  But in 1932, New York Times writer, James Kieran, first used the term “Brains Trust” when referring to a close group of experts that surrounded then-candidate Roosevelt.  Others say that close FDR advisor, Louis Howe, actually used the term first, though derisively, in conversation with Roosevelt.  FDR had two brain trusts — one early in the first New Deal, primarily during 1933, and another in the second phase of the New Deal in 1935-36.  Among those in the first group were Columbia law professors — Raymond Moley, Rexford Tugwell, and Adolph Berle — and also James Warburg from the Bank of Manhattan, who became a financial adviser to FDR.  Although these experts never met as a group, each of the original Brain Trusters had Roosevelt’s ear on certain matters, and they played key roles in shaping and/or advancing the original New Deal.  Newspapers of the day, however, often ridiculed them as idealists.  The second FDR brain trust, helping craft the programs of 1935-1936, were men associated with the Harvard law school — Benjamin Cohen, Thomas Corcoran, and Felix Frankfurter.

Vanity Fair’s September 1934 issue featured FDR’s Brain Trust as an educated eagle with Uncle Sam in its grasp.
Vanity Fair’s September 1934 issue featured FDR’s Brain Trust as an educated eagle with Uncle Sam in its grasp.
     Vanity Fair, using the talents of Italian caricaturist and artist Paolo Garretto, made the Brain Trust their cover subject for both the June and the September 1934 issues.  In June, the Capitol building was shown wearing a pair of scholarly glasses and a mortarboard to symbolize the influence of FDR’s first Brain Trust bringing, presumably, good and enlightened policy.  By the fall of 1934, a number of government programs that FDR and his administration had created were becoming fair game for journalists and artists.  For the September 1934 issues, Paolo Garretto once again caricatured the Brain Trust in a cover scene showing the New Deal era symbol, the NRA eagle, cast in academic black with mortarboard, carrying in its talons, a somewhat watchful Uncle Sam, holding onto his hat.  Presumably, this enlightened American thunderbird is taking Sam to a better place, but perhaps not.  In fact, in due time, some of FDR’s Brain Trusters would part ways with him and his policies.  Raymond Moley of the first Brain Trust broke with Roosevelt and became a sharp critic of the New Deal from the right.  James Warburg also left FDR’s government in 1934, having come to oppose certain policies of the New Deal.


October 1934
“Tattooed Sam”

Vanity Fair of October 1934 featured Uncle Sam as ‘The Tattooed Man,’ bearing all manner of New Deal program and/or government agency acronyms.
Vanity Fair of October 1934 featured Uncle Sam as ‘The Tattooed Man,’ bearing all manner of New Deal program and/or government agency acronyms.
     Artist Paolo Garretto also did the cover art for the October 1934 issue of Vanity Fair, titled, “The Tattooed Man,” capturing the begining of FDR’s “alphabet soup” of agencies and programs that would proliferate in the New Deal.  In this case, Garretto shows Uncle Sam with all manner of tattoos on his body, each an acronym for one of the New Deal’s laws or programs — each also signifying an attached special interest.  The sign on the curtain over Sam’s left shoulder and above the tattoo artist at work, reads: “Dr. Braintrust, Tatoo Artist; $1.00 Per Letter; Eagles, $3.00 Each.”

     Among the programs or agencies tattooed on Sam in this illustration are: AAA, the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, created in 1933 to pay farmers to reduce crop area with the intention of reducing crop surpluses to help raise crop values to restore farm stability; CCC, for the Civilian Conservation Corps of 1933-1942, which employed young men to perform unskilled work, often installing natural resource-conserving improvements in rural areas; NRA (with Eagle on Sam’s chest) was the National Recovery Administration created by the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 to promote economic recovery by ending wage and price deflation and restoring competition; and the FERA, Federal Emergency Relief Administration, which during the first hundred days of the Roosevelt Administration distributed federal monies to the states to be used to provide work relief or direct relief to households.  The FHOLC, or Federal Home Owners Loan Corporation, was created in 1933 to assist in the refinancing of homes.  Between 1933 and 1935 one million people received long term loans through this agency that helped save their homes from foreclosure.  The Public Works Administration (PWA) was another emergency agency established in 1933, while the Public Buildings Administration (PBA) and the Public Roads Administration (PRA) were prior federal agencies that were rearranged to offer grants to states and cities to build roads and federal buildings outside Washington, D.C.  These grants were also used largely to employ workers but also for building public infrastructure and buildings — dams, roads, and schools.

     The CSB, or Central Statistical Board, was created in 1933 to coordinate federal and other statistical services.  Its duties were later absorbed by the Budget Bureau in 1939.  The SAB, also known as The National Research Council’s Science Advisory Board, was created by an executive order issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in July 1933 to help address scientific problems of the various government departments, initially to undertake a survey of the overall relationship between science and the government.  The FCC, or Federal Communications Commission, was created in 1934 to regulate interstate and foreign communication by telegraph, telephone, cable, and radio.  The SEC, or Securities and Exchange Commission, was created in 1934 to protect public and private investors from stock market fraud, deception and insider manipulation on Wall Street.

Paolo Garretto
Artist Profile

Paolo Garretto, photographed by Lusha Nelson, for the August 1934 issue of Vanity Fair.
Paolo Garretto, photographed by Lusha Nelson, for the August 1934 issue of Vanity Fair.
     Paolo Garretto, (b.1903-d.1989), was born in Naples, Italy.  As a young boy at age 12 or so, he lived in Philadelphia for a time as his father a was a scholar and teacher who frequently traveled.  With the outbreak of WWI the family returned to Italy.  After a brush with fascism as a youth, his father pushed Paolo back to school for an architecture degree, then to England where he became a caricaturist, later moving to the U.S.  He was first commissioned for work at Vanity Fair by Clair Booth Brokaw/Luce in 1930, the magazine then promoting color caricature.  Garretto specialized in major political figures and jazz-age celebrities and he helped give Vanity Fair a portion of its graphic identity in the 1931-35 period, designing some 50 covers there.  Later, when World War II broke out, Garretto, an Italian citizen living in the U.S., was interned as an enemy alien and deported to Italy.  He was approached by the Nazis to produce caricatures of President Roosevelt and other Allied leaders.  When he refused, he was interned as a political prisoner in Hungary from 1942 until the end of the war.  Garretto, in fact, a decade earlier, had done a caricature of Hitler’s head affixed to the “body” of the swastika on a Nazi flag for the Nov 1932 cover of Vanity Fair.

A Paolo Garretto caricature of New York Democrat, Al Smith, for ‘Vanity Fair,’ October 1934.
A Paolo Garretto caricature of New York Democrat, Al Smith, for ‘Vanity Fair,’ October 1934.
     Garretto often critiqued celebrity culture with gaiety, wit and satire.  Art experts note that he used a stark and stylized approach in casting his subjects.  In the October 1934 issue of Vanity Fair, in addition to “The Tattooed Man” cover (above), he also did a drawing inside the magazine of Al Smith, the four-term governor of New York, progressive reformer, and onetime presidential contender.  This caricature evoked the “Happy Warrior” Al Smith of the campaign trail, capturing his flamboyant character and a “patriotic heart,” depicting him in a theatrical gesture amid the city’s skyscrapers; or as one critic observed, ” a celebration of New York’s native son and Smith’s distinctive character.”  But in late 1934, Smith’s political fortunes within the Democratic Party were declining due to a feud with FDR.  Over the years, Garretto’s work has emerged periodically in U.S. museum and libraries, such as one New York Public Library exhibition titled “Celebrity Caricature in America.”  His work today resides in various collections, including those at the National Portrait Gallery, the Library of Congress, and the Smithsonian Museum of Art.  The web site Cartantica.It offers a sampling of some of Garretto’s celebrity caricatures.


November 1934
FDR’s “Blue Eagle”

Vanity Fair’s November 1934 issue shows master chef FDR serving up one of his favorite New Deal program symbols: the National Recovery Administration’s Blue Eagle.
Vanity Fair’s November 1934 issue shows master chef FDR serving up one of his favorite New Deal program symbols: the National Recovery Administration’s Blue Eagle.
     Through 1934, FDR continued doing battle with one political faction or another not happy with his initiatives.  Conservatives argued that Roosevelt had done too much.  Some of them organized the American Liberty League in August 1934 to galvanize the right.  However, in the mid-term elections November 1934, the Democrats gained enough seats in both houses of Congress to enjoy veto-proof majorities.  Vanity Fair that month offered a Miguel Covarrubias cover illustration depicting FDR as a master chef who is shown serving up a dish of American fare featuring the NRA blue eagle on a platter.  Some viewed this as perhaps a counterpoint to former president Herbert Hoover’s promise of a “chicken in every pot.”  However, Roosevelt’s Blue Eagle NRA took a fair amount of lampooning and criticism during its tenure, which was somewhat shortened by its legal and constitutional difficulties.

     The National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) of June 1933 was one of the famed “first 100 Days” laws enacted in FDR’s first term to deal with the Great Depression.  It was enacted to promote economic recovery by ending wage and price deflation and restoring competition.  Among other things, the act authorized the President to regulate industry and permit cartels and monopolies in an attempt to stimulate economic recovery.  The Act was implemented by the National Recovery Administration (NRA) and the Public Works Administration (PWA), and it authorized the creation and use of industrial codes of fair competition, guaranteed trade union rights, permitted the regulation of working standards, regulated the price of certain refined petroleum products, and authorized public works projects.

‘Blue Eagle’ poster displayed by U.S. companies during 1933-35 that were in compliance with certain New Deal recovery programs.
‘Blue Eagle’ poster displayed by U.S. companies during 1933-35 that were in compliance with certain New Deal recovery programs.
     Under the program, a blue eagle — a blue-colored American “thunderbird” with outspread wings — became a prominent symbol used in display by U.S. companies to show compliance with the NIRA.  The Blue Eagle became an official symbol of the industrial recovery in July 1933.  All companies that accepted the Re-employment Agreement or a special Code of Fair Competition were permitted to display a Blue Eagle poster with the slogan, “NRA Member.  We Do Our Part.”  Consumers were encouraged to buy products and services only from companies displaying the Blue Eagle poster.  However, under the NRA, regulations proliferated, which eventually led to a significant loss of political support for Roosevelt and the New Deal.  Roosevelt had sought reauthorization for the NIRA in February 1935, but the backlash against the New Deal, coupled with congressional concern over the NIRA’s suspension of antitrust law, left FDR without the needed political support.  NIRA was set to expire in June 1935, but in a major case, the Supreme Court held it unconstitutional in the case of Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States.

     The Blue Eagle’s days as an official symbol of the NRA and the economic recovery ended by September 1935.  However, a part of its legacy survives to this day in the name of the Philadelphia Eagles football team, as in 1933, Philadelphia native and college football coach Bert Bell, who had formed a new National Football League franchise to replace the defunct Philadelphia team named the Frankford Yellow Jackets, named his new team the Eagles in recognition of the NRA.

     However, during its two years or so of operation, the NRA issued 557 basic and 189 supplemental industry codes.  In addition, some 3,000 administrative orders were issued, running to over 10,000 pages of rules, with thousands of opinions and guidelines from national, regional, and local code boards. Debate over the NIRA’s creation and effectiveness continues to this day, but chief among its failings was its allowance of economically harmful monopolies and its lack of support from the business community, including powerful players such as Detroit automaker, Henry Ford.  Franklin Roosevelt, meanwhile, had shifted his views on the best way to achieve economic recovery, and began a new legislative program that would become known as the “Second New Deal” in 1935.


January 1935
The New Year

Vanity Fair rang in the 1935 new year with a foldable cover design that revealed a leaner Sam from 1934.
Vanity Fair rang in the 1935 new year with a foldable cover design that revealed a leaner Sam from 1934.

     As the nation rang in its new year of 1935, Vanity Fair’s January issue offered a Miguel Covarrubias caricature of a seemingly robust and pleased Uncle Sam on its cover symbolizing the hoped-for better year ahead.  Readers of this issue found instructions on an inside page, that after a series of folds of the cover art, which opened out in two halves, a sad and leaner version of Uncle Same appeared, representing the previous year, 1934, contrasting sharply with the stout and happy figure presented for 1935.  By 1935, however, the country had only achieved a modest degree of recovery, with Roosevelt and his Administration under siege by a variety of critics.  Still, on January 4, 1935, when FDR delivered his State of the Union message to Congress, he proposed legislation with long-term goals for “social security” — programs for the aged, the unemployed, and the ill.  He also called for better housing, taxation reforms and more jobs for the unemployed, and Congress, with its increased Democratic margins, would respond with new programs and more money, helping FDR with what would become known as his “second New Deal.”


Vanity Fair’s March 1935 cover has artist Paolo Garretto depicting FDR as puppet master playing industrialist against the working man as his ‘second New Deal’ offered labor strengthened bargaining rights.
Vanity Fair’s March 1935 cover has artist Paolo Garretto depicting FDR as puppet master playing industrialist against the working man as his ‘second New Deal’ offered labor strengthened bargaining rights.


March 1935
Beowulf full
Labor Rights

     In the spring of 1935, responding to the setbacks in the courts and skepticism throughout the nation, FDR, his Admin- istration, and allies in Congress embarked on their “second New Deal” with initiatives that in some ways were regarded as more radical, more pro-labor, and more anti-business than programs of the first New Deal of 1933-34.  Among these was the National Labor Relations Act, also known as the Wagner Act, for Senator Robert Wagner of New York.  Following in the wake of earlier initiatives for worker rights and collective bargaining begun in 1933-34 under the NIRA, the Wagner Act would bring more specific law protecting labor organizing.  Under the law — debated in Congress during early 1935 and signed by FDR in July that year — employers could not restrain, interfere, with or coerce employees in the exercise of their rights, could not create or support “company unions,” could not discriminate against an employee for union activities, and could not refuse to bargain with a duly designated majority union.

     Accordingly, Vanity Fair’s March 1935 issue used its cover to show Franklin Delano Roosevelt as a puppet master, playing the industrialist against the working man with artist Paolo Garretto’s illustration, also a commentary on FDR’s second New Deal as being more pro labor.


April 1935
“Ringmaster”

Vanity Fair, April 1935: Franklin Roosevelt shown as confident ringmaster taming all manner of political beasts.  Artist, Constantin Aladjálov.
Vanity Fair, April 1935: Franklin Roosevelt shown as confident ringmaster taming all manner of political beasts. Artist, Constantin Aladjálov.
     The cover of Vanity Fair’s April 1935 issue features an illustration by Russian illustrator Constantin Aladjálov who cast Franklin Roosevelt as a jolly ringmaster.  FDR appears to have tamed all the unwieldy political beasts, while cajoling and aiding others to their best performance.  The Republican elephant is shown, along with the Democrat’s donkey; Wall Street’s bull and bear are there too — the bull appearing on his last legs with tongue hanging out; the bear, wide-eyed and scratching his head, perhaps trying to figure out what FDR would throw at the economy next.  The Tammany tiger is there too, looking tamed and obedient.  Tammany Hall was the political machine that had dominated New York city politics, but Roosevelt stripped Tammany of its federal patronage.  Caged above FDR is a diminished American eagle, while the New Deal’s NRA blue eagle is on the floor below, appearing to have a splint on its leg, as the NRA by then had received a fair amount of criticism and was headed for a fall in the Supreme Court.  Still, the overriding theme on this April 1935 Vanity Fair cover is FDR in control, leading the way, and putting a smiling face on the still very bleak times.

     Constantin Aladjálov — the artist who did this cover (b.1900- d.1987) — was a painter and illustrator who studied at the University Petrograd, Russia.  His work appeared on the covers of Vanity Fair and other Conde’ Nast publications during the 1930s.  Until he arrived in New York in 1924, Aladjálov dabbled in everything from sign painting, to portrait painting, to court painting.  He designed covers for The New Yorker from 1926-1960 as well as The Saturday Evening Post.   His work also appeared in George Gershwin’s Song Book (1932) and Alice Duer Miller’s Cinderella (1943).  Over the years, there have been various national and solo shows of his work in Hollywood, New York, and Dallas. His art is found today in collections at the Brooklyn Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Modern Museum of Art, and the Dallas Museum of Art.

     Back in the New Deal, FDR by 1935 had Democratic majorities in the Congress, and in the spring of that year his Administration charged ahead with more ambitious programs to help the economy.  In April, Congress established the Soil Conservation Service in the Department of Agriculture to help stanch the dust storms plaguing the west, and it also authorized nearly $5 billion in relief spending used to set up various programs such as the Works Progress Administration (WPA), established in May 1935.  The WPA would become one of the best known New Deal programs, putting millions of Americans to work on various public works projects.

Vanity Fair’s May 1935 issue features a Paolo Garretto caricature of FDR crushing an electric utility executive with his ‘utility reform' Easter Egg.
Vanity Fair’s May 1935 issue features a Paolo Garretto caricature of FDR crushing an electric utility executive with his ‘utility reform' Easter Egg.


May 1935
“Utilities”

     In the 1920s, electric utility holding companies had consolidated in America to such an extent that by the end of the decade, less than a dozen utility systems controlled three-fourths of the nation’s electric power business.  The booming utilities, seen as secure investments in the 1920s, lured in millions of investors, though their pyramidal structures and inflated values were revealed in the 1929 market crash.  Attempts at weak regulation followed.  FDR fought vehemently against the holding companies, calling them “evil” in his 1935 State-of-the-Union address. 

     After a hard-fought campaign in Congress, the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 was passed.  Among other things, the new law required holding companies which owned 10 percent or more of a public utility to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission and provide detailed accounts of their financial transactions and holdings.  The legislation had a dramatic effect on the operations of holding companies and over the next two decades or so, their numbers would decline dramatically — from 216 to 18 between 1938 and 1958.

     Vanity Fair’s May 1935 issue — in a cover take-off on the annual Easter Egg roll at the White House — featured a caricature by artist Paolo Garretto depicting a grinning Roosevelt pushing a giant Easter egg labeled “Utilities” over a top-hatted electric company executive who is holding a banner that reads “private ownership.”

     FDR’s fight for public power became an integral part of his New Deal campaign.  In addition to the utilities bill, Congress also passed the Federal Power Act of 1935, which gave the Federal Power Commission regulatory power over interstate transmission and wholesale transactions of electric power.  The Federal Power Act also gave the FPC the legal power ensure that electricity rates were “reasonable, nondiscriminatory and just to the consumer.”  And adding to this public power initiative, and that of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) already created in 1933, Roosevelt by executive order in May 1935 authorized the U.S. Rural Electrification Administration (REA) to create and finance rural utility companies to serve farmers and rural Americans all across the country.


Demise of Vanity Fair

Miguel Covarrubias' illustration, 'Bali Beauty,' for the February 1936 issue of Vanity Fair, marked the last issue of the magazine that had used its covers to spotlight FDR & the New Deal.
Miguel Covarrubias' illustration, 'Bali Beauty,' for the February 1936 issue of Vanity Fair, marked the last issue of the magazine that had used its covers to spotlight FDR & the New Deal.
     Vanity Fair’s cover art shifted away from FDR and the New Deal after May 1935, focusing on Europe and the rise of the Nazi threat, with Paolo Garretto cover art on those topics in June and August 1935.  Thereafter, the front covers were also somewhat lighter — a race horse was featured in September 1935, Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow in October 1935, a Hollywood scene for November, and Santa Claus in December.  For the last two issues in 1936, a stylized skier was used on the January 1936 cover, and for the final February issue, a Miguel Covarrubias illustration appeared,  shown at right, “Bali Beauty”.

     Lack of advertising revenue, the continuing Depression, and the changing times helped to hasten the end of Vanity Fair, which was folded into Vogue, another Conde’ Nast publication.  Vanity Fair had seen some of its best years in terms of sales in 1931 and 1935, and it continued to attract new readers in that period.  Vanity Fair had become more political during the Depression than it ever had been before, bringing along some of it previously non-political sophisticates into an at least  appreciative following of politics.  Vanity Fair’s readership, according to some, even though it showed signs of growth, no longer had the market value it once did: its readers weren’t buying the products the magazine advertised.  And it was also considered a bit too urbane for those times, despite its political satire.  So it ceased publication.  But it would rise again, in a new form, in the 1980s.

     As for FDR and the New Deal, had Vanity Fair lasted through the later terms of his presidency, and the controversies that swirled around them, there is no telling what turns the cover art may have taken — but it is likely that good caricature and satire would have continued in fair display.  Happily, in its modern rebirth since 1983, Vanity Fair has renewed and continued the creative blending of art, satire, and politics to good effect, though there still may be some pining for that old-form, art caricature that can grab readers’ attention in unique ways and leave lasting impressions.

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Date Posted:  2 November 2009
Last Update:  8 September 2010
Comments to:  jdoyle@pophistorydig.com

Article Citation:
Jack Doyle, “FDR & Vanity Fair, 1930s,” PopHistoryDig.com,
November 2, 2009.

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Sources, Links & Additional Information

Another sample of Vanity Fair cover art from January 1932 – Paolo Garretto depicts the changing allegiances of Ramsay MacDonald, then Britain's prime minister, by dressing him in worker's overalls on one side and an aristocrat's suit and top hat on the other.
Another sample of Vanity Fair cover art from January 1932 – Paolo Garretto depicts the changing allegiances of Ramsay MacDonald, then Britain's prime minister, by dressing him in worker's overalls on one side and an aristocrat's suit and top hat on the other.
Miguel Covarrubias’ cover for Vanity Fair’s August 1932 issue featured tennis star Helen Wills Moody.
Miguel Covarrubias’ cover for Vanity Fair’s August 1932 issue featured tennis star Helen Wills Moody.
Miguel Covarrubias’ caricature of Greta Garbo appeared on the February 1932 cover of Vanity Fair.
Miguel Covarrubias’ caricature of Greta Garbo appeared on the February 1932 cover of Vanity Fair.
Paolo Garretto casts Adolf Hitler in political cartoon for Vanity Fair’s November 1932 cover.
Paolo Garretto casts Adolf Hitler in political cartoon for Vanity Fair’s November 1932 cover.
John D. Rockefeller & Joseph Stalin, ‘Impossible Interviews,’ Vanity Fair, April 1932.
John D. Rockefeller & Joseph Stalin, ‘Impossible Interviews,’ Vanity Fair, April 1932.
Queen Marie & Mae West, ‘Impossible Interview,’ June 1932, Vanity Fair
Queen Marie & Mae West, ‘Impossible Interview,’ June 1932, Vanity Fair
Miguel Covarrubias caricatures of Walter Lippmann & Walter Winchell, ‘Impossible Interviews,’ Vanity Fair, 1930s.
Lippmann & Walter Winchell, ‘Impossible Interviews,’ Vanity Fair, 1930s. Miguel Covarrubias.

David Friend, “Vanity Fair: The One-Click History,” VanityFair.com, 2008.

Amy Fine Collins, “Vanity Fair: The Early Years, 1914-1936,” VanityFair.com, 2008

Cleveland Amory and Frederic Bradlee (eds.), Vanity Fair: A Cavalcade of the 1920s and 1930s. New York: Viking Press, 1960.

“Vanity Fair,” The American Studies 1930s Project, English Department, University of Virginia, site accessed, October 2009.

David Friend, “The 1930s and Vanity Fair,” VanityFair.com, June 11, 2008.

Kitty Hoffman, “A History of Vanity Fair; A Modernist Journal in America.” Dissertation, University of Toronto, Canada,1980.

Walter Lippman, “Post Mortem: The Election,” Vanity Fair, January 1929.

“West Will Launch Roosevelt Boom; State of Washington Expected to Put Him Before Nation for Presidency Feb. 6,” New York Times, Tuesday, January 5, 1932, p. 8.

Jay Franklin, “New Years Day and Mr. Hoover,” Vanity Fair, January 1933.

Marcus Duffeld, “Brightening Up Politics,” Vanity Fair, January 1933.

“Roosevelt Orders 4-Day Bank Holiday, Puts Embargo on Gold, Calls Congress,” New York Times, March 6, 1933.

“President and Wife Call on Mr. Holmes; Felicitate the Former Supreme Court Justice on His Ninety-Second Birthday,” New York Times, Thursday, March 9, 1933, Section, Social News, p. 17.

Jay Franklin, “Not a Cabinet But a Coalition,” Vanity Fair, May 1933.

The New Deal,” Wikipedia.com

David A. Horowitz, “Senator Borah’s Crusade to Save Small Business From the New Deal,” The Historian, June 22, 1993.

“Walter Lippmann,” The Columbia Encyclo- pedia, sixth edition, Encyclopedia.com, 2008.

Johnna Rizzo, “Covarrubias’ Early Days in New York,” Humanities, May/June 2006.

Edward Sorel, “Covarrubias,” American Heritage Magazine, Vol. 45, Issue #8, December 1995.

Miguel Covarrubias,” Wikipedia.com.

Kurt Heinzelman (ed), The Covarrubias Circle: Nickolas Muray’s Collection of Twentieth-Century Mexican Art, University of Texas Press, 2004.

“Illustration: The Genius of Miguel Covarrubias,” AnimationArchive.org, Monday, May 14, 2007.

Henry C. Pitz, “Miguel Covarrubias of Mexico City,” American Artist, January 1948, pp 21-24.

Samples of Miguel Covarrubias artwork, American Art Archives.

Miguel Covarrubias, “Impossible Interviews”
(samples follow below)

“Marie of Romania vs. Mae West,” text by Corey Ford, Vanity Fair, June 1932.  The Romanian Queen laments her neglect by the public, to which West replies:  “What I mean, sister, lemme put you wise. Royalty don’t get you any place, any more.  Today they only want the kind of a Queen they can hold on their laps. Lookit me, for instance.  Every other inch a Queen, from hips to whoozis.” (see image, below right)

“John D. Rockefeller Sr. vs. Joseph Stalin,” Vanity Fair, April 1932.

“Senator Smith W. Brookhart vs. Marlene Dietrich, Vanity Fair, September 1932.

“S.L. Rothafel vs. Arturo Toscanini,” Vanity Fair, February 1933.

“Herr Adolf Hitler and Huey ‘Hooey’ Long vs. Joseph Stalin and Benito Mussolini,”Vanity Fair, June 1933.

“Sally Rand (dancer/stripper) vs. modern dance pioneer, Martha Graham,” Vanity Fair, December 1934, text by Cory Ford.  In the accompanying mock dialogue, stripper Sally is quoted as saying they were “…just a couple of little girls trying to wriggle along.”

“Freud vs. Jean Harlow,” Vanity Fair, May 1935.

George Arliss vs. Cardinal Richelieu, Duke of Wellington, and Disreali,” Vanity Fair, January 1936.

Mike Rhode, “Miguel Covarrubias Portraits on Display This Fall” (with earlier review), ComicsDC, Thursday, August 30, 2007.

Steven Heller, “Paolo Garretto: A Reconsider- ation,” undated paper (PDF) with sample Paolo Garretto works, 13pp.

“Paolo Garretto Is Dead; Italian Caricaturist, 86,” New York Times, Tuesday, August 8, 1989.

Sampling of Paolo Garretto caricatures at Cartan- tica.It.

Steven Heller, Design Literacy: Understanding Graphic Design, Allworth Press, 2004, 433pp.

Price Fishback, Professor of Economics, University of Arizona, New Deal 2 Editor, “Impact of New Deal Programs on Welfare,” Analysis Online.Org.

Price V. Fishback, William C. Horrace and Shawn Kantor, “Did New Deal Grant Programs Stimulate Local Economies? A Study of Federal Grants and Retail Sales During the Great Depression,” Journal of Economic History, March 2005.

Fishback, Price V., William C. Horrace, and Shawn Kantor. “The Impact of New Deal Expenditures on Mobility During the Great Depression,” Explorations in Economic History, 43 (April 2006), 179-222.

Alex J. Pollock, “A 1930s Loan Rescue Lesson,” Washington Post, Friday, March 14, 2008

National Labor Relations Board, The First 60 Years — The Story of the National Labor Relations Board: 1935-1995, American Bar Association, 1995.

Cabell B. H. Phillips, From the Crash to the Blitz, 1929-1939, Fordham University Press, 596pp.

PBS, “Regulation: Public vs. Private Power: From FDR to Today,” Frontline, Program: “Blackout: What Caused the Power Blackout in California?  And Who’s Profiting?,”  A co-productin of Frontline and The New York Times, June 2001.

See Vanity Fair Store to purchase prints of vintage Vanity Fair magazine covers from the 1930s and other time periods.


 





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