Out of touch with the rhythm and blues
But now I need a little give and take
The New York Times, the Daily News"
-- "New York State Of Mind," Billy Joel
When Joel wrote that song in the mid-1970s, New York City was reeling. Suburbanization had weakened much of its tax base, many parts of Manhattan were deteriorating, and it faced a financial crisis. As some of the leading Wall Street banks would do a third of a century later, it sought help from the federal government. However, the response was quite different:
That's one of the most famous headlines in the history of the New York Daily News (one of my journalism professors at the University of Maryland, likely a New York native, taped a copy to his office door). Back then, the News was New York's dominant paper, at least in terms of circulation, and had held that honor since the 1920s when its tabloid style revolutionized the newspaper business. However, its circulation waned in ensuing years, and while it's still around today and is a favorite of "straphangers" (subway riders), it sells far fewer copies than the Times. It's even abandoned its famed home on East 42nd Street, where a huge globe sits in the lobby, for cheaper digs on the West Side.
But let's turn the clock back nearly 74 years, to March 29, 1936. It was a Sunday, and guess who the News featured on the cover of its magazine? None other than...
...Carole Lombard, looking pretty stunning (as per usual). In later years, the News would run genuinely full-color photos of her; I'm not certain whether this qualifies or is merely a black-and-white photo enhanced by the art department.
I'm not sure what's on the inside of the magazine, but I know what's on the back:
It's an ad for Maxwell House coffee, featuring future Lombard co-star Jack Benny. (Maxwell House would be followed by Jell-O and Lucky Strike as notable sponsors of Benny's hugely popular radio show.)
As the News then had a circulation of more than 1 million, many people probably saw this magazine -- perhaps even my parents, then both adolescents in Brooklyn.
This magazine is currently being auctioned at eBay; as of this writing, no bids have placed (the minimum bid is $7). Bidding closes at just after 7:55 a.m. (Eastern) on Friday. If you're interested, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/Sunday-News-Cover-Carole-Lombard-1936-Maxwell-House-AD_W0QQitemZ350330369754QQcmdZViewItemQQptZMagazines?hash=item51915136da.