British adventure magazine takes readers to the ends of the Earth.
The British men’s adventure magazine The Wide World debuted in 1898 and lasted all the way until 1965. That’s not quite National Police Gazette or Argosy longevity, but it’s still very good. During that entire time, a span encompassing two global conflagrations and various economic fluctuations, it failed to print only four issues—including once when a German aerial bomb flattened its pre-press facility.
The magazine’s founder was George Newnes, who also published The Strand Magazine, Tit-Bits and other titles. With The Wide World he hit upon an audacious marketing gimmick—he assured readers that every word in the magazine was true, and made “Truth Is Stranger than Fiction” the publication’s slogan. This claim was hot air, of course, but that idea—and the conceit that adventurers were a sort of global club that owed allegiance to one another—helped make the magazine a success among readers who considered themselves men of the world, or longed to be.
A strong focus on exotic lands and inscrutable dark-skinned inhabitants resistant to the white man’s ordained incursions likewise played well with readers, as Britain’s colonial era evolved into a post-colonial one. That makes The Wide World a repository of some ugly attitudes, however the magazine also managed such feats as being the first publication to report the death of Butch Cassidy in Bolivia, and publishing stories by many literary notables. Above and below you see a collection of covers, nicely rendered in pulp style by various artists.
, South Africa
, New Zealand
, The Wide World
, Butch Cassidy
, George Newnes
, magazine art
She really isn’t dressed for this, but luckily neither is he
Andrew Garve’s The End of the Track was published in 1955, with this Berkeley Books paperback appearing in 1958. Garve, who was actually British author Paul Winterton and also wrote as Roger Bax and Paul Somers, livens up the thriller formula a bit here by pitting a forest ranger and his wife against two blackmailers, then mixing in a wilderness blaze that kills one villain but leaves the other missing. When police suspect the ranger of incinerating the blackmailer intentionally, he’s suddenly the focus of a murder investigation even as the other crook needs to be dealt with. The stunning, almost sepia toned art here brings to mind the infamous Slenderman, don't you think? It's uncredited—a crime in itself.
A silk sash, a tight knot, and gravity equal suicide. Or do they equal murder?
Above you see the cover of British author James Hadley Chase’s 1953 revenge thriller I’ll Bury My Dead. It has what we consider unusually downbeat art, but with the body count in the story being so high maybe that’s to be expected. Basically, a shady P.I. dies of an apparent gun suicide, but his brother is convinced it’s murder and decides to investigate. He ends up uncovering a blackmail racket, getting on the wrong side of the police, and being connected to more corpses, including that of his brother’s wife, depicted in George Erickson’s cover art. Were these murders or suicides? This book was savagely reviewed for the most part but was reprinted as recently as 2009, which goes to show that pulp is critic proof.
What’s scarier than National Informer Reader? Actually daring to look inside.
On the opposite end of the tabloid spectrum from yesterday’s Top Secret, we have an issue of National Informer Reader published today in 1971. You may remember our previous entries on National Informer Weekly Reader. What you see above is simply the earlier, monthly iteration of the same rag. You wanna be scared on Halloween? Just peel back the cover on this baby.
Reader editors start by donning their anthropology hats and telling readers that by the year 2000 there will be 2.5 women on Earth for every man. You know what that means right? “In the year 2000 men will be catered to by women as in no other era in the history of mankind. Every week will be a special week dedicated in some way to the male sex. For instance, one week will be called National Sex Week, and if a man gives at the office he doesn’t have to give at home. 2000 is the start of the era when men will have the whip hand.”
Because men need more control, right? Well, if that prospect isn’t frightening enough, Reader tells us California is a breeding ground for devil-worshipping cults, drugs are destroying family life via osmosis from bad neighbors, virgin women are lamentably impossible to find anymore, and psychopathic outlaws and sex perverts have invaded America’s freewheeling outdoor music festivals. Readers also get to solve a murder mystery (which you can try below). All very scary.
Elsewhere in the issue, readers get Raquel Welch (just below) in a promo shot from Myra Breckenridge, and two photos of Malta-born British twins Mary and Madeleine Collinson, who posed together for Playboy’sOctober 1970 centerfold and were the first (but not last) identical twins to do so. Both also appeared in movies, always together, because, well, twins. Their most remembered feature is Hammer’s schlock vampire classic Twins of Evil (although only one twin is a vampire in the movie). Sadly, Madeleine Collinson died last month on Malta
Lastly, Sophia Loren urges women to have sex before marriage. Loren describes women as “ridiculously moral. So they go out and marry a man without having a love affair first to find out if they are compatible.” Any potential husband, she says, might be anything from a sadist to a eunuch, and she recommends premarital sex, trial cohabitation, and state mandated probationary marriage that doesn’t legalize until three years have passed.
We have a few scans below, about fifteen issues of National Informer and National Informer Weekly Reader we’ve already shared (we’ll get you started in the archives here, here, here, and here), and we have nine more issues we hope to get through eventually. If that prospect doesn’t scare you nothing will.
, Twins of Evil
, National Informer Weekly Reader
, National Informer Reader
, National Informer
, Myra Breckenridge
, Raquel Welch
, Sophia Loren
, Madeleine Collinson
, Mary Collinson
No, not gill like a fish—gill like a Gillian.
Gillian Duxbury was a British actress who appeared in only a few television shows, but she managed another type of fame, starring on many magazines, tabloids, album covers, and—importantly for this website—1970s crime paperbacks. Movie stardom it isn’t, but it’s good enough for us. We have a few examples below.
Glass Key paperback art is tops thanks to another Italian master.
Brian Donlevy and Veronica Lake’s film noir The Glass Key, which was Hollywood’s second try at Dashiell Hammett’s novel, premiered this month in 1942. To be exact, it opened yesterday in New York City and throughout the U.S. on October 23. The poster most often seen online is the theatrical release version we showed you several years ago, but alternates were produced and two of them appear below. What we really wanted to share, though, is this great paperback cover from UK-based Digit Books. It’s from 1961 and features the art of Italian illustrator Enrico de Seta, who we’ve mentioned before. If you haven’t watched The Glass Key we recommend it, and if you haven’t read the book, just know that it was Hammett’s personal favorite.
, New York City
, Digit Books
, The Glass Key
, Dashiell Hammett
, Enrico de Seta
, Alan Ladd
, Brian Donlevy
, Veronica Lake
, poster art
, cover art
, film noir
History’s most storied serial killer finally identified.
Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper has published a story in which it claims infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper has been identified through DNA testing. The analysis was performed on a shawl found by police on the body of Catherine Eddowes, the fourth of the Ripper’s canonical victims, killed on the same night as Elizabeth Stride in what is termed by Ripper scholars as “The Double Event.” The shawl had recently been bought at auction by an amateur sleuth and passed on to genetic experts, who took samples from the fabric and found matches to the DNA of descendants of Eddowes, and to the descendants of Aaron Kosminski, an original Ripper suspect who had been questioned and surveilled by police back in 1888.
The Mail has said the new evidence “puts to end the fevered speculation over the Ripper’s identity,” but we imagine independent corroboration will probably have to follow before that’s true. Kosminski was of Polish descent and had emigrated from the Russian Empire to London. Police reports from the time of the murder describe him as a serial masturbator, and indeed the Kosminski DNA sample from the shawl is thought to be semen, meaning that in the few minutes after the killing he both mutilated the corpse and ejaculated over it. Presumably more details will emerge in the coming days, but the announcement of Kosminski as the killer, if true, has to rank as one of crime history’s most significant, and may bring to a close one of its most baffling murder cases.
Update: That didn't take long. Various scientists and DNA experts say the genetic analysis done on the shawl was botched due to error of nomenclature. Instead of an extremely rare genetic match, DNA extracted from Eddowes' shawl actually matches that of most people of European descent. So forget everything we wrote above.
Monroe may wobble but she won’t fall down.
Marilyn Monroe shows up just about everywhere, and here she is yet again where we didn’t expect to see her—fronting a Malaysian film publication that appeared today in 1953. The magazine, called Filmalaya, is in English, which marks it as aimed at the British colonial community that occupied the upper stratum of society in Malaysia and Singapore. The cover photo is from a publicity series made when Monroe filmed the movie Niagara in Ontario, Canada in late 1952, and let’s just assume her perch is not as precarious as it seems and there’s a handy ledge or lawn behind her in case she goes heels up. But if she does, there are other stars in the magazine, such as Joan Collins, Betty Grable, Rhonda Fleming, Ava Gardner, and Nat King Cole.
Filmalaya represents an interesting snapshot into colonial society, as in the article about Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in London, which describes the thrills and excitement in Malaysia during the event. Doubtless, the mood around the Commonwealth probably seemed festive when viewed from inside the colonial bubble, but we doubt actual Malaysians were particularly moved. Needless to say, this magazine is rare, but luckily items from Asia are often a bargain, so this cost a mere six U.S. dollars. While the inside is nothing special visually speaking, that doesn’t matter when the magazine has this great cover and is such an informative slice of history. We’ve uploaded a few of the best pages below. Enjoy.
, Niagara Falls
, Marilyn Monroe
, Joan Collins
, Betty Grable
, Rhonda Fleming
, Ava Gardner
, Nat King Cole
, Queen Elizabeth II
They were on a collision course from the moment they met.
This cover of the The National Insider published today in 1963 touts a true story about actual people for a change of pace, in this case Harvey and Christine Holford. Thirty-one-year-old Harvey Holford was a club owner and well-known figure in Brighton, England; eighteen-year-old Christine Hughes was a local party girl. They met, romanced, and married each other, but Christine quickly found Harvey a sexual bore and he soon resented her constant bedding of other men. At one point he shaved her head bald as punishment for her philandering, then later apologized by buying her a sports car. But these stints of tranqulity never lasted long. The last straw came when she allegedly taunted him using their daughter Karen, claiming she wasn’t his, which resulted in him shooting her.
When police came to their flat the couple were sitting up in bed. She had six bullet wounds, one in the face, and was long gone from this world. She was propped against her husband, who was comatose from an overdose of pills. But he recovered and was held in Lewes Prison until he could stand trial for murder. The day before the proceedings were to begin he tossed himself from a window and fractured his skull. He recovered again, and eventually went to trial before a sympathetic judge who, referring to Christine’s taunt about the paternity of the couple’s daughter, at one point told those assembled in the court, “Can you imagine any words more calculated not only to sear and cut deeply into the soul of any man but to rub salt into the wound at the same time?” Harvey Holford was later acquitted of murder to vigorous applause from the public gallery, and convicted instead of manslaughter, serving three years before being paroled in 1964.
Of course, the key to acquitting a man of murdering his adulterous wife is to consider her a piece of property rather than a human being, and there’s little doubt that’s what happened in the Holford case, for as hurtful as infidelity may be, male pride eventually heals whereas dead wives never do. Harvey claimed to have acted in a fit of passion—the very quality Christine always claimed he lacked in their marriage—but we tend to think divorce is the more sensible remedy for unfaithfulness. Or sometimes even—call us crazy—reconciliation. To this day, though, many still doubtless think Harvey Holford was blameless. Luckily for him, the presiding judge was one of them.
Our civilization has avoided nuclear destruction so far, but has it been by design or chance?
This debris cloud was generated yesterday in 1952 by the nuclear blast codenamed Dog, which was part of Operation Tumbler-Snapper, a series of tests that occurred at the Nevada Test Site that year. The people you see in the image are just a few of the 2,100 marines who observed the explosion. Last month Chatham House released a sobering nuclear study showing that there have been thirteen incidents since 1962 that qualify as “near use” of nuclear weapons. In two of those—the famed Oleg Penkovsky incident and the less famous but more serious Stanislaw Petrov incident—nuclear holocaust may have been averted only because individuals disobeyed orders. Chatham House also details many instances of “sloppy practice.” Two examples: President Jimmy Carter once left the U.S. nuclear launch codes in a suit that was taken to the dry cleaners, and in 1981 when Ronald Reagan was shot, his bloody pants containing the launch codes ended up in the hands of FBI agents who had no authorization to possess them. There are instances of sloppy practice from as recently as 2013. If you’re in the mood for some sobering reading, the report is here.
, Soviet Union
, Operation Tumbler-Snapper
, Chatham House
, Jimmy Carter
, Ronald Reagan
, Oleg Penkovsky
, Stanislaw Petrov
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1933—King Kong Opens
The first version of King Kong
, starring Bruce Cabot, Robert Armstrong and Fay Wray, and with the giant ape Kong brought to life with stop-action photography, opens at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The film goes on to play worldwide to good reviews and huge crowds, and spawns numerous sequels and reworkings over the next eighty years.
1949—James Gallagher Completes Round-the-World Flight
Captain James Gallagher and a crew of fourteen land their B-50 Superfortress named Lucky Lady II in Fort Worth, Texas, thus completing the first non-stop around-the-world airplane flight. The entire trip from takeoff to touchdown took ninety-four hours and one minute.
1953—Oscars Are Shown on Television
The 26th Academy Awards are broadcast on television by NBC, the first time the awards have been shown on television. Audiences watch live as From Here to Eternity wins for Best Picture, and William Holden and Audrey Hepburn earn statues in the best acting categories for Stalag 17 and Roman Holiday.
1912—First Parachute Jump Takes Place
Albert Berry jumps from a biplane traveling at 1,500 feet and lands by parachute at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. The 36 foot diameter chute was contained in a metal canister attached to the underside of the plane, and when Berry dropped from the plane his weight pulled the canopy from the canister. Rather than being secured into the chute by a harness, Berry was seated on a trapeze bar. It's possible he was only the second man to accomplish a parachute landing, as there are some accounts of someone accomplishing the feat in California several months earlier.
1932—Lindbergh Baby Is Kidnapped
The twenty-month-old son of aviator Charles Lindbergh, Charles Augustus Lindbergh III, is kidnapped from the family home in East Amwell, New Jersey. Over two months later the toddler's body is discovered in woods a short distance from the home. A medical examination determines that he had died of a massive skull fracture. A German carpenter named Bruno Hauptmann is arrested, tried, and convicted for the crime. He is sentenced to death and executed in April 1936.
1953—Watson and Crick Unravel DNA
American biologists James D. Watson and Francis Crick tell their friends that they have determined the chemical structure of DNA. The formal announcement takes place in April following publication in Nature magazine. In 1968, Watson writes The Double Helix, a non-fiction account of not only the discovery of the structure of DNA, but the personalities, conflicts and controversy surrounding the work.
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