Monday, February 16, 2009

Before Helen Gurley Brown

This March 1952 issue of Cosmopolitan was a birthday gift from my mother and it is just as delicious as it looks.
Our cover girl is Mary Sinclair, the "first star of television." She acted in many early TV movies and a Sherlock Holmes series before retiring to Europe in the 1960s to paint.
I'm enjoying her matte red lip, halter top, and the way the white powder puff sets off the black pouf of her hairdo.
This issue came out over a decade before Helen Gurley Brown became editor in chief. Once inside, I was struck right away by just how different things were BHGB (before Helen). For example, you can see on the cover that this issue includes a serious article on Russian politics.

And here is the photo that accompanies a feature on the importance of reading and discussing Bible stories with your children.
Good thing Helen turned it all around. How else would that well-groomed young mom ever have learned the important alternate uses for ice cubes and hair schrunchies.

Before we delve into other features, let's take a look at some excellent old ads.

Here is a precious ad for two soon to be released films, Singin' In The Rain, and Skirts Ahoy!, starring Esther Williams.

Just like in today's magazines, product tie-ins ran rampant. Here's Esther on the page opposite, starring in an ad for Jergen's lotion. All those hours spent swimming dry out her skin! Click to enlarge and read Esther's testimonial.

As I mentioned, we have my mother to thank for this blog fodder. Oh but some mothers. Some mothers are to blame. The sad story in one ad starts like this:
"Poor child, she had no means of knowing why her first real party had been such a failure, why one boy after another coolly ignored her and whispered behind her back. The very night she wanted to be at her best, she was at her worst."

How did this mother fail in the upbringing of her teenage daughter? Click to enlarge the ad. I'll give you one hint. It's an ad for Listerine.

I've written twice about another ad in this series. For a while, Kotex produced ads that were supposed to read like a teen magazine, full of tips on parties and posture. The final tip is not quite as odd as the one I featured last time, but is probably an even worse idea. It addresses what I can only suppose was a common dilemma for the fifties gal: the limp veil. And what to do?

"Slide the tired veil quickly back and forth on a lighted lamp bulb. Slick, last-minute way to crisp that glamour wisp! "

I cannot tell you how many cocktail parties have ended in humiliation for me when my glamour wisps have wilted. But really, this tip seems like it would singe a scarf. And lightbulbs tend to be dusty, don't they? But maybe they weren't dusty in the fifties.