Monday, July 11, 2011

The Million-Dollar Pixie

Years before Cosmopolitan magazine became known as Cosmo and advocated that liberated, independent, strong, intelligent and powerful women keep a married man on the side to help pay the bills movie star Hayley Mills appeared on the cover, goofing around and reinforcing a young image.Cosmopolitan used to be a well-rounded periodical of not only light articles but some in-depth investigative stories as well. From the December 1962 cover Hayley Mills talks about how her family keeps her grounded, the ways the young women of Moscow are defying Cold War stereotypes of behavior and fashion and the growing number of adults who are taking care of grandchildren born by unwed mothers. I'd like to present the Hayley Mills family-centric article "The Million-Dollar Pixie" in its entirety but laying the magazine flat enough to scan the pages would cause them to separate from the binding. I'll leave that sort of damage to those who cut ads and art out of vintage magazines and sell them online. So instead of the fascinating Hayley article I'll present a few pages of interior artwork instead.

Like many other magazines of the time a lot of page space was filled with fiction and non-fiction stories. For my tastes it isn't so much the writing and authors that are of interest but the art and illustrations that accompanied the stories. Frequently the art is classic and highly skilled and is widely appreciated as a stylistic snapshot of the era. Of all the art in this issue of Cosmopolitan it is the two pages that accompany the "complete mystery novel" Snow Job by Malcolm Gair, illustrated by Mitchell Hooks that I like the most. I've got a thing for duo-tone (or nearly so) magazine illustrations.

He put out his hand to throw back the bedclothes, but Sally caught his arm in
her long tanned fingers and stopped him. "You're doped," she said.

When he got to the low point of the cliff, he looked up.
On top stood a figure with a large stone poised to throw.

Cosmopolitan changed in the way it did to stay relevant and alive by appealing to a young, trendy and orgasm-conscious female demographic. While not the New Yorker by any means it was not a bad magazine at all and was likely better than many it competed with on the news stands. The change in the magazine was a sign of what was happening in the publishing industry as a whole at the time. The fact is if Cosmopolitan didn't change to increase readers and ad revenue when it did it would probably have ceased publication decades ago and been all but forgotten. I'm glad that Hayley wasn't featured in the magazine during a time when the cover would feature "new" sex positions and ways to drive your man wild in bed.

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