Sportswire Dec 29 2016
SAY IT AIN'T SO JOE
A legendary boxer faces the winter of his discontent.

The National Police Gazette asks on a cover from this month in 1950 “What Will Happen to Joe Louis?” It's a poignant question. Louis had earned more than $4 million during his boxing career (about $40 million in 2016 money), but thanks to predatory managers and slimy handlers had received only about $800,000 of it. However, his gross earnings left him with a huge tax bill, forcing him to fight past his prime in an attempt to pay off the debt. In September 1950 he met Ezzard Charles and was thrashed. For his pain he earned just over $100,000—not nearly enough to pay off the government. Left with no choice, he decided to shoot for another big payday. First he notched several wins again club level fighters, then booked a bout against another top boxer. That boxer was twenty-seven year old Rocky Marciano, and the meeting ended with Louis being knocked clean out of the ring. So, getting back to the Gazette's question: "What will happen to Joe Louis?" What happened is he retired and became an exhibition fighter, still carrying that heavy debt, and he never paid it off.

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Sportswire May 11 2016
BLEEDING FOR THE CAUSE
He gave every last drop of his blood—to the IRS.


This National Police Gazette cover from this month in 1951 shows a bloodied Joe Louis in the midst of a title bout loss to Ezzard Charles in September 1950. Louis had retired, but when the U.S. government's Internal Revenue Service came after him for $500,000 in back taxes, he fought again—at age thirty-six—with the agreement that the proceeds would clear his debt. Thus Gazette's sub-head: “Why Joe Louis Can't Quit.” He'd hoped to pay off the entire bill with one fight, but the crowd was small and the purse far less than expected. With debt still outstanding, he did the only thing he could—take more fights.
 
And in the center of the magazine Gazette offers up Hazel Nilsen as its Date of the Month. Gazette featured established personalities on its calendar pages only occasionally, which means the magazine's promo shots today serve as an encyclopedia of aspiring starlets who almost—but never quite—made it. Nilsen was aiming for Broadway because of the excitement of acting before a live audience, but never appeared in a play. Instead she scored small roles in three Hollywood westerns between 1949 and 1952, including as an Indian maiden named White Fawn in Apache Chief, before fading from the scene. Showbiz is a cruel mistress.

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Sportswire Nov 4 2014
BOXER'S DOZEN
Twelve leading causes of headaches and bodily pain.

The National Police Gazette devoted much of its space to boxing. Above you see twelve pages, some originals and some reprints, from its monthly feature the Gallery of Champions. Of course, Jimmy Carter, at top, later went on to become president of the United States. Really a remarkable story. 

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Vintage Pulp Jun 8 2014
TAKE YOUR PIC
All celebrities great and small.


We’ve featured Pic magazine only once before, but not because it was an unimportant publication. Quite the opposite—we’ve seen issues as early as 1936 and as late as 1958, making it both a Depression and World War II survivor, presumably no easy feat and certainly a run indicative of sustained popularity. Early issues seemed focused on sports, but it soon broadened to include celebrities. It was launched by Wagner Publications of New York City, and this issue appeared in June 1952 with a cover featuring actress Suzan Ball placing a crown on the head of Akton Miller, a man Pic had chosen as its Hot Rod King. Inside you get a raft of Hollywood stars, including photos of Yvonne De Carlo in Uruguay, Marilyn Monroe, Janet Leigh, and Joan Vohs, shots of New York Giants manager Leo Durocher and his beautiful actress wife Laraine Day, and some nice boxing pictures. There’s also an interesting feature on the day’s top vocalists (with African-Americans notably excluded), and a profile of crooner Tony Bennett. 

But it’s Suzan Ball’s story we’re interested in today. Her path to show business was so typical of the period as to be almost banal—she was spotted in a Santa Maria, California newspaper after winning a cake baking contest. Universal-International scouts thought she looked a bit like Jane Russell, so they swept her up, shuttled her down Highway 101, signed her to a contract and began selling her as a hot new Tinseltown commodity, proclaiming her the New Cinderella Girl of ’52. Soon the influential columnist Hedda Hopper took up the refrain, naming her one of the most important new stars of 1953, thus ensuring that year would belong to Ball.

It was then that her train to stardom jumped the tracks. She injured her leg performing a dance number in East of Sumatra, and later in the year had a car accident and hurt the leg again. Treatment for those two injuries led to the discovery of a cancerous tumor. Soon afterward she fell and broke the limb, and when doctors decided they couldn’t remove the tumor they instead took the entire the leg. That was in January 1954. Ball soldiered on in her show business career with an artificial leg, starring in Chief Crazy Horse, though she lost fifteen pounds during the production, and later playing nightclub dates and appearing on television shows. In July 1955 she collapsed while rehearsing for the show Climax, whereupon doctors discovered the cancer had metastasized and spread to her lungs. A month later she died at age twenty-one. We have about fifty scans below.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 13 2011
THERE GOES THAT MAN AGAIN
Just when you think you’ve seen the last of this guy, he turns up yet again.

Well, here we go again with The National Police Gazette and der Führer. This July 1953 issue brings us to eleven covers we’ve shared of one of history’s biggest monsters. We have seven more in our archive, and there are certainly others out there in the world to be unearthed. It makes a sort of sense, we suppose, that a person who irreparably warped the course of the twentieth century also warped the Gazette’s editorial content. In this case, Gazette purports to have located his secret hideout. Where is it? Would you believe Antarctica? No, seriously. They claim that, as of 1953, Hitler was chilling with penguins on an ice shelf. Oooo—march-off! Penguins win! Anyway, this from the Gazette’s text: "Hitler is alive! Hitler is plotting to return! These are facts Police Gazette has investigated and fearlessly revealed during recent months. [snip] Why doesn’t the United States government take immediate action on our information—track down Hitler, arrest him, and bring him to trial? The answer is this. Our government’s hands are tied. We are a democratic nation and we cannot trespass upon, invade, or interfere with the territorial integrity of another country." Is it not revealing that the Gazette—a rightwing scandal sheet—informs its readers that a murderer of millions must be captured and brought to trial? And that bit about the United States being a democratic nation that cannot simply invade another country? That’s really something, isn’t it? Oh, how times change. But we digress. We’re wondering if Hitler possibly appeared on more Police Gazette covers than any other person. No way to research that, so we’ll just speculate—yes, he did. But in Gazette’s defense, it never presented him as anything other than an object of fear or ridicule. At least, not that we’ve seen. We’ll have more Gazette later, and you can get Antarctic scoop below. 

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Vintage Pulp | Sportswire Mar 6 2010
JOLTIN' JOE
Joe Louis was indomitable during his prime, but was forced to fight long after his youth was gone.

Above we have a National Police Gazette with a boxing cover, from sixty years ago this month, with the editors’ warning to the retired Joe Louis to stay out of the ring. But what the Gazette didn’t know was that the 36 year-old Louis was under investigation by the IRS, and he suspected the outcome wouldn’t be good. In May 1950 Louis was jolted when the authorities declared that he owed half a million dollars in back taxes. With only one way to earn the cash, he cut a deal to box for prize money to put toward his debt. He fought and lost to Ezzard Charles in September, and the next year was knocked clean out of the ring by Rocky Marciano. But for all his efforts he was still in debt. The purses had been low because no one wanted to pay to see Louis—who was the first African-American considered a national hero by both blacks and whites—beaten to a pulp. After the Marciano debacle, the fight offers dried up. Louis retired again, and this one stuck. We’re going to get back to Joe Louis at a later date, because his is one of the more interesting and inspiring stories you’ll run across. His financial troubles were not so much a failure of character as a failure to comprehend the corrupting force of money, and the need to hire not just a lawyer, a manager, and an accountant, but a lawyer to watch your lawyer, a manager to watch your manager, and especially an accountant to watch your accountant. We have some Gazette interior pages below, and you can see the other Gazette boxing covers here and here. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
July 27
2003—Hope Dies
Film legend Bob Hope dies of pneumonia two months after celebrating his 100th birthday.
July 26
1945—Churchill Given the Sack
In spite of admiring Winston Churchill as a great wartime leader, Britons elect Clement Attlee the nation's new prime minister in a sweeping victory for the Labour Party over the Conservatives.
1952—Evita Peron Dies
Eva Duarte de Peron, aka Evita, wife of the president of the Argentine Republic, dies from cancer at age 33. Evita had brought the working classes into a position of political power never witnessed before, but was hated by the nation's powerful military class. She is lain to rest in Milan, Italy in a secret grave under a nun's name, but is eventually returned to Argentina for reburial beside her husband in 1974.
July 25
1943—Mussolini Calls It Quits
Italian dictator Benito Mussolini steps down as head of the armed forces and the government. It soon becomes clear that Il Duce did not relinquish power voluntarily, but was forced to resign after former Fascist colleagues turned against him. He is later installed by Germany as leader of the Italian Social Republic in the north of the country, but is killed by partisans in 1945.
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