The Amazing Volkswagen (Pic Magazine, 1955)
One of the unexpected treats to appear on the roads during the post-war years was the Volkswagen.
It seemed as if the car began to go into production the very second after the Germans cried "uncle"; we were startled to read in this article that in the years between 1945 and 1955, the West Germans had succeeded in manufacturing a half million of them, and 200,000 were exported throughout the world to 100 countries.
Much of the credit for this success was due to the visionary CEO of Volkswagen, Heinz Nordhoff (1899 - 1968), who was able to assess the faults of the existing model and make the necessary improvements:
"The power was low, and the engine had a life of only 10,000 miles. Nordhoff brought in new experts who redesigned every vital component, working on the original pre-war designs of Ferdinand Porsche... The new car was quieter and more powerful, and had hydraulic brakes and shock absorbers. Soon, models with luxury touches were introduced."
The article is illustrated with 21 photographs, and it tells an amazing story, given the fact that the nation's infrastructure was in such a state of disrepair
The Post-War Miracle that was Volkswagen (Pic Magazine, 1955)
Out of the smoldering ruins of Japan came the Honda factories; while Germany amazed their old enemies by rapidly beating their crematoriums into Volkswagens. Confidently managed by a fellow who only a short while before was serving as a lowly private in Hitler's retreating army, Volkswagen quickly retooled, making the vital improvements that were necessary to compete in the global markets.
Ludwig Erhard (1897 – 1977), West Germany's Minister of Economics between the years 1949 and 1963, once remarked that Germany was able to launch its "Wirtschaftswunder" (economic miracle) by implementing the principles of a market economy and laissez-fair capitalism within the framework of a semi-socialist state.
Jane Russell Sur la Plage... (Pic Magazine, 1941)
When these eight pictures of Hollywood actress Jane Russell (1921 - 2012) were snapped in the spring of 1941, she wasn't up to much. She was studying acting at Max Reinhardt's Theatrical Workshop in Los Angeles and more than likely waiting for her seven year contract with Howard Hughes to expire. The film that she'd made with him the previous year, The Outlaw, would not [be widely] distributed for some time and so we imagine that she jumped at the chance to put on a bathing suit and clown around on the beach when she got the call from the boys at PIC MAGAZINE. With the onslaught of the Second World War, she would be doing much of the same sort of posing for the pin-up photographers.
In the attached photo-essay, the PIC editors went out on a limb and called her "one of America's greatest beauties".
••Is it me, or was she really bad in THE OUTLAW - watch some of her clips from that highly unimpressive 1943 movie••
Preston Sturgis, Director (Pic Magazine, 1944)
One Editor's Obsession (Pic Magazine, 1941)
It seemed to have made no difference to the editors of PIC MAGAZINE how dark and thick the clouds of war were that encircled the United States one month prior to the Pearl Harbor attack - they ran yet another puff piece on Jane Russell five months after they had published their last puff piece on Jane Russell.
Women War Workers (Pic Magazine, 1943)
Attached is a photo-essay from a 1943 issue PIC MAGAZINE illustrating the roll women played in a California bomber factory.
When Robert Cowell Became Roberta Cowell (Pic Magazine, 1955)
This 1955 magazine article tells the story of Roberta Cowell, who was once a hard-charging R.A.F. Spitfire pilot who went by the name Robert Cowell until he decided that he would much prefer to be a woman. Today, Cowell is remembered as the first Briton to surgically change genders.
Seeing that this was written during the era of the Howdy-Doody Show, it is absent of words such as vaginoplasty, labiaplasty, breast augmentation - even the words chromosome and hormone cannot be found. What comes across clearly is that the sexual reassignment surgery was a success and the transformation from male to female was verified by two accomplished physicians of the time.
From Amazon: Roberta Cowell's Story
The Dos and Don't in Men's Suiting of the Forties (Pic Magazine, 1945)
This article appeared in an issue CLICK MAGAZINE that was deliberately edited to aid those young men who had been wearing uniforms for the past few years and, subsequently, had no knowledge whatever of tailoring or of fabric that was not government issued. It consists of a handy guide for the aspiring dandy showing just how a gentleman's suit should fit if it is to be properly worn.
Read an article about the history of Brooks Brothers
When the Depression Lingered Into the War Years (Pic Magazine, 1942)
"It matters not that we're fighting a war on, under and over all the seas and on half the continents of the earth. Uncle Sam is determined that there shall be be no new army of 'forgotten men' to make a mockery of all the things for which we are now fighting...The Farm Security Administration [has been] detailed to look out for migratory defense workers - the kind who can't find a place to live in overcrowded war-boom towns"
Martha Vickers (Pic Magazine, 1945)
Perhaps one of the first magazine articles about the beautiful actress Martha Vickers (1925 – 1971) who is best remembered by fans for her performance as the fabulously slutty "Carmen Sternwood" in the 1946 film The Big Sleep.
This article tells the tale of her early days in 1940s Los Angeles and her work as a photographer's model, which turned a few of the crowned heads of Hollywood:
"A color photograph of her was seen by David Selznick, who forthwith signed her. Selznick gave her drama and diction classes for a year without casting her in a picture, and when option time came up, her contract was dropped. That, naturally, was a great disappointment..."
••Watch A Martha Vickers Slide Show ••
The Nazis Liked to Flatter Themselves (Pic Magazine, 1943)
The Nazis had so many wonderful things to say - about themselves...
"Yes, we are barbarians! We want to be barbarians. It is an honorable title. We shall rejuvenate the world."
Lounges for WAACs and WAVES (Pic Magazine, 1943)
All thanks to the efforts of a private donor, three lounges were built explicitly for the women volunteers of the WACs and WAVES. Furnished with vanities, hair dryers, magazines and ping-pong tables; they must have been a big hit - they look very much like the sets of a Fred Astaire movie.
Click here to read about the U.S.O. entertainers...
Cecil B. DeMille Tries his Hand at Radio (Pic Magazine, 1941)
"At the age of 63, after 44 years in show business, and ten years as director of the Lux Radio Theater, Cecil B. De Mille is still producing. He can't stop and he probably never will. He is first, last and all the time a showman. The show business is in his blood, and whether he is on a set or taking his leisure at home, his heart and mind are in the theater. He loves to have people around him so that he can play a part, for consciously or unconsciously, he is always acting... C.B.'s father was an actor and playwright, and later a partner of David Belasco. His mother was an actress, and later a very successful play agent."
A Monopoly on Radio Talent? (Pic Magazine, 1941)
This article will cue you in to a 1941 dust-up between the FCC and the biggest radio broadcasters in America.
Apparently CBS, NBC and the Mutual Broadcasting System were in cahoots, united behind a scheme to fix the prices they had to cough-up in order to pay all the various assorted musicians and acting talents they needed to hire if they were to attract their radio audiences. The feds got wind of the plan and smelled a rat:
"The big radio networks are currently worried by the Federal Communication Commission's accusation that they are talent monopolists, part of the FCC's blanket charge that the radio chains constitute a trust within the broadcasting industry..."
1946 Broadway (Pic Magazine, 1946)
The Hunt in Occupied-Germany (Pic Magazine, 1946)
While the hunt for Nazis and hidden weapons cachés was taking place in allied-occupied Germany, a small number of U.S. Army detectives happened upon the entire archives of the Nazi Party.
The Show-Biz Blood of Cecil B. DeMille (Pic Magazine, 1941)
"At the age of 63, after 44 years in show business, Cecil B. De Mille is still producing. He can't stop and he probably never will. He is first, last and all the time a showman. The show business is in his blood, and whether he is on a set or taking his leisure at home, his heart and mind are in the theater. He loves to have people around him so that he can play a part, for consciously or unconsciously, he is always acting... C.B.'s father was an actor and playwright, and later a partner of David Belasco. His mother was an actress, and later a very successful play agent."
The article goes into more depth outlining De Mille various triumphs in silent film and his work on The Squaw Man.
Building the Suburban Dream (Pic Magazine, 1955)
The author Thomas Hine pointed out in his 1986 tour-de-force, Populuxe, that by the time the Eisenhower years rolled around, suburban houses were growing in size, as is typified in the attached article that was created to sell the plans for a 1,290 square foot piece of suburban splendor. Gone were the days of the "little boxes" that dotted the countryside throughout the late Forties and early Fifties; these newer and larger domiciles were built in the shapes of "U" or "L" and the most popular models were built in the "Ranch House" style with attached garages (gasp!).
Lucille Ball Gets Noticed (Pic Magazine, 1940)
Among all the many lovelies who resided in the Hollywood of 1940, the wide-awake editors of PIC MAGAZINE singled-out Lucille Ball (1911 – 1989) as the one to watch:
"Barring accidents, Lucille Ball tomorrow will occupy the spot now disputed by Carol Lombard, Joan Crawford and Ginger Rogers - as First Lady of Hollywood. Lucille deserves to get it and she has what it takes to get there. The red-headed ex-chorus girl has talent, ability looks, personality and willingness to take every punishment on her way up."
You can click here to read about her doomed marriage to Desi Arnaz...
''A Message to the White Collar Class'' (Pic Magazine, 1941)
A very self-conscious column regarding the American class structure.
The Star of THE OUTLAW (Pic Magazine, 1943)
Those cheeky, ill-informed editors at PIC MAGAZINE impertinently protested that the Howard Hughes' movie The Outlaw should have been in the theaters ages ago - failing all the while to recognize that the film had been released a week prior to the publication of their article.
But they made up for it by providing their readers with six seldom-seen cheesecake pictures of the star, Jane Russell.
Dan Burley, Editor (Pic Magazine, 1943)
Dan Burley (1907 - 1962) was a much admired man of his day; noted editor and columnist who served at a number of respected African-American newspapers and magazines, a Boogie Woogie pianist, sports writer covering the Negro League and he was to Jive what Samuel Johnson was to English - a lexicographer. This PIC MAGAZINE profile centers primarily on his efforts to translate famous English lines into Jive talk and chronicle the "slanguage" .
More about the African-American press corps can be read HERE.
Robert Best of South Carolina (Pic Magazine, 1943)
On July 26, 1943, in the same U.S. Federal Court that tried the American poet Ezra Pound (in absentia) for treason, Robert H. Best (1896 – 1952), formerly of the Associated Press, was also convicted on the same charges. What Iva Toguri (the alleged Tokyo Rose) was believed to have done for Hirohito, and what Pound did for Mussolini is what Best did for Adolf Hitler: he had broadcast Nazi radio propaganda.
You might also care to read about the American Bund.