Friday, April 10, 2015

A Look at the New Yorker's Eighth Issue: April 11, 1925

Easter was the heavenly theme of the New Yorker's cover for the April 11, 1925 issue, but inside the magazine it was business as usual.
Rea Irvin, The New Yorker, April 11, 1925
Are the Coolidges going to have a baby in the White House? The person to ask is Ted Clark, the President's personal secretary, long before there was any such thing as a Press Secretary. "He refused to confirm or deny. Anybody knows what the effect of that was bound to be. For rumoring purposes it confirmed." Of course, there is no baby on the way. Meanwhile the illustration shows a lesson from Dogwalking 101.
"The Talk of the Town"
This "Talk" piece is quoted in Guide to the White House Staff (CQ Press, 2013, page 31) by Shirley Anne Warshaw, who notes that Mr. Clark was actually the President's "assistant private secretary."
Guide to the White House Staff

Two weeks earlier the annual Dutch Treat show was mentioned in "The Talk of the Town:"
"The Talk of the Town," The New Yorker, March 28, 1925, page 4

Now the great event at the Waldorf-Astoria has taken place, memorialized with a spread across two pages by Reginald Marsh, who doesn't spend too many nights at home from the looks of it. The D.T.'s, or delirium tremens, is of course a severe form of alcohol withdrawal quite familiar to a nation in theory withdrawing from alcohol on a grand scale. Fortuitously, these initials can also be made to stand for the Dutch Treat show, which is a revue featuring  songs, sketches, and presumably abstinence from alcohol.

"The Student Prince," front and center on the left-hand page, is a 1924 operetta with music by Sigmund Romberg and lyrics by Dorothy Donnelly. It contains, as it happens, the famous "Drinking Song" which thirsty Prohibition Era audiences--if you'll forgive the phrase--simply lapped up. Literary lights Ring Lardner and Bob Benchley dominate the right-hand page. Benchley, like the New Yorker's editor Harold Ross, is a charter member of the Algonquin Round Table. The young magazine continues to give a lot of press to Mr. Ross's lunchtime crowd. Here Benchley is covered in armor and singing with minstrels in blackface.
Reginald Marsh, "The D.T's. of 1925" The Dutch Treat Show

Eldon Kelley, Spot drawing

By far the most popular illustrator of the 1920's, John Held, Jr., regularly illustrates magazine covers for Life and book covers for F. Scott Fitzgerald. He comes from Salt Lake City where he was a colleague of the young newspaperman Harold Ross. Here he makes his first appearance in Mr. Ross's new magazine, a sure sign that Ross is still serious about recruiting major talent. Held's contemporary round-headed style is abandoned here as he adopts a mock "engraving" style which is actually linoleum block printing. This new old-fashioned style of his will prove quite versatile and effective over the coming years.
John Held, Jr., The Rumrunner's Sister-in-Law

Hans Stengel's first cartoon--he already provided a "Profiles" portrait in the fifth issue--isn't merely window dressing--or is it? The brash young magazine's exaggerated depiction of the old codgers is unforgiving and perhaps unforgivable.
Hans Stengel, One of Our Clubs on the Avenue Arranges Its Spring Window Display

"Of All Things" is truly all over the place this week. There's mention of President Coolidge, Governor Smith, Mayor Hylan, Harvard, Florenz Ziegfeld, and the intractable five-cent subway fare. Then there is the Birth Control Conference mentioned in the second item. Margaret Sanger, the crusader for birth control, is the subject of this week's "Profiles," but Dr. Norman Haire's comment is altogether chilling. To use this as mere fodder for a gag seems all too glib. Reading on, the rest of the page seems trivial.
"Of All Things"
Three illustrated portraits:
"The Hour Glass"
Alfred Frueh gives you your money's worth: three panels each with three barbers giving three shaves. In a few years, the magazine will be doing far better than this with just a single panel.
Alfred Frueh, Chivalry

Is the magazine becoming more readable?
"Justifiable Homicide"
Illustrator Carl Fornaro, who created the March 21 issue's skyline cover, here draws birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger.
"Profiles:  The Child Who Was Mother to a Woman"
Illustration of Margaret Sanger by Carl Fornaro
Miguel Covarrubias caricatures some of the biggest names in the theatre. Ninety years after the fact, most of these names remain well-known. (Ralph Barton must have the week off.)
Miguel Covarrubias, Mr. Covarrubias Looks at the Players
A dramatic approach to the piano:

There's always plenty to do in town. A sampling:
"Goings On"
Rea Irvin provides a brand new new subject heading for the "Art" page.
Illustration of Georgia O'Keeffe by Henry Major
Oscar Cesare's only cartoon for the magazine is an illustration of Mayor Hylan resting on the beach.
"Limitations of Intellectuals" by the Professor
Illustration by Oscar Cesare

Who is Cesare? Take that, Kaiser! Bonnet Rouge is a powerful World War I political cartoon by Cesare that shows his more serious side.
Oscar Cesare, Bonnet Rouge
Original art

"The tone of the hat-check attendant's 'Thank you' is about the same for a dime as a dollar." Perhaps, but how can a concession force far-off employees to turn over all tips?
"When Nights Are Bold"
This sounds suspiciously like another fake contest, but why not subscribe a few hundred times to the New Yorker to find out for sure?
"See Wilkes-Barre, Pa., for Nothing"

Many of these "Journalistic Jingles" are amusing. How about that?
"Journalistic Jingles"
Paul Reilly begins his short-lived career with the magazine. Who'd like to weigh in on this one?
Paul Reilly, Knickerbocker History--Primary Election for Burgomaster

Here's a slightly later example of Reilly's work, from the old Life:

Paul Reilly, The Kilkenny Cats
March 17, 1927

The advertising slogan "I'd walk a mile for a Camel" is already well known. "The Optimist" is reprinted again for the sake of consistency. Gus Mager's cartoon is rather elevating.
Gus Mager, The Elevator Man's Day Off
Coming up?
Frank Hanley

Groucho Marx mails it in. "Vaudeville Talk" is a brief dialogue between Vaude and Vill. Vill, the second speaker, has Groucho's unmistakable cadence and delivery. As for the first speaker, Vaude conceivably could be enacted by Zeppo or Chico or indeed any straight man.
"Vaudeville Talk"
Despite some gains, The New Yorker is still seeking humor in inconsequential prose.
"Jottings About Town"

"A friend of ours thinks we owe Ford Madox Ford an apology." The editorial "we" established itself first in the back sections of the magazine. The "Books" section takes another look at Ford Madox Ford's Some Do Not... 

Some of the recommended books here already have been reviewed during the magazine's first two months, but who expected to find A. A. Milne's When We Were Very Young on the short list?

"Nowadays it doesn't matter so much what you do as how many people get to know your name." The New Yorker already has it all figured out three years before the birth of Andy Warhol.
"Speaking of Publicity"

"It uses the simplest time table in the world--a train is always just pulling out as you get to the platform." Is the identity of author B. B. Bob Benchley? Busybody?
"Suggestions for the Subway 'Sun'"
The humor is Greek to me.
"When Greek Meets Greek"

"The Drinking Song" from "The Student Prince" (1954 Film)
Music by Sigmund Romberg
Lyrics by Dorothy Donnelly
Voice of Mario Lanza
Edward Purdom as Prince Karl
Ann Blyth as Kathie

Note:  Did you miss it? I already discussed this issue's cover on Easter Sunday.

The New Yorker's last issue, the seventh, just might be worth a look-see as well.

Posts about John Held, Jr. are always a good bet, if you're the gambling type.


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