Without a doubt, Marilyn Monroe was the #1 movie starlet of all time. Fifty-two years after her tragic death in 1962, her celluloid image is still the gold standard for Hollywood glamour and beauty. Her tumultuous private life was a gossip columnist and paparazzi's dream, certainly helped further by her marriages to two of the most famous sports and literary figures in America at that time, Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller.
Born Norma Jeane Mortenson (later Baker) in 1926, Marilyn's decade was primarily the 1950's and her image graced the covers of untold thousands of newsstand magazines and newspapers. The 1950's was also Martin Goodman's "primary" decade as a magazine publisher, after the tentative beginnings of the 1940's and before the crashing of American News Corporation in early 1957 that nearly took him out of the game completely.
Martin Goodman was primarily a chaser of newsstand sales tendencies. He was a consummate trend follower. If something was selling, he would produce 3 times as many knock-offs. Quoted once in 1937, "If you get a title that catches on, then add a few more, you're in for a nice profit" (1), it was a business plan that he adhered to for nearly 40 years.
The fullest accounting of Goodman's earliest business and newsstand publications is covered in the recently published book The Secret History of Marvel Comics by myself and Blake Bell, available here: The Secret History of Marvel Comics, published by Fantagraphics Books in October, 2013, or by clicking the link at the top right of this page. Consider this blog post an extension of the coverage of Goodman's magazines found in our book, and Marilyn Monroe's appearances in them.
Needless to say, like every other magazine published of the time, Martin Goodman used Marilyn any chance he could get, putting her beautiful image not only on the covers of his magazines, but also the back covers, inside front covers, and running features inside on everything ranging from what films she was currently working on, to who whatever was happening in her personal life.
What follows below are all the Marilyn Monroe appearances I could find in Goodman publications that I have here in my possession. Some of these were shown in our book, most were not. It will not be a complete survey by virtue of it being impossible to have looked at everything Goodman ever published (still my ultimate goal, though!), but I think it covers most of the major items, at least cover-wise. I will keep this blog entry open for updates and will update it accordingly as time goes on, hoping to make it a permanent archive of Marilyn's appearances on/in Goodman's magazines. Please feel free to send me omissions and I will upload them to this site.
Let me condense Martin Goodman's earlier publishing history into just a few lines.....
Goodman began publishing pulps in 1933. By 1937 he branched off into other types of publications and by 1939 jumped into the nascent comic book industry with Marvel Comics #1. As the 1940's went on, in addition to the pulps and comic books, he introduced humor, pin-up, confession, sports, film, men's and photo magazines. It is with the latter group mixture, a weird blend of film-men's-photo type publications, that we find our first Goodman Marilyn Monroe appearance in 1949. By this time, the umbrella name for the entirety of Goodman's publications was called Magazine Management.
Foto Parade Vol 1, #1 (Dec/49)
Foto Parade Vol 1, #1 (Dec/49) was a large-sized bedsheet magazine (Life Magazine size) published by Goodman's Foto Parade, Inc., a sub-publisher created for this exact magazine and used additionally for the first 62 issues of the long-running war comic book Battle (1951-1959) and the late-run 1953-1960 issues of the true crime magazine Amazing Detective Cases.
Foto Parade followed on the heels of a similar Goodman photo magazine Eye: People and Pictures, which debuted cover date May/49, and would kick off a slew of similar magazines including Focus, Photo, Brief, Sensation and Picture life. Foto Parade would immediately change title to Foto Parade of People with its second issue and I've tracked it to issue #6 (Jan/51) before I lose track of it and it possibly was cancelled to make way for something new.
Dell published an early version Foto in the late 1930's. Then Goodman himself published Flash Foto Features in 1941 for at least 2 issues. Following the seeming demise of the above Foto Parade of People, cover date Jan/53 saw Ace Publishing release the long-running pin-up and news magazine Foto-rama, so this may explain that Ace's A.A. Wynn grabbed up the unused title "Foto".
On page 6 of the above magazine is the article "Meet Marilyn Monroe and a New Picture Magazine", with a sub-heading "Beautiful Starlet of the Marx Brothers' New Movie, "Love Happy" Introduces "Foto Parade, a Magazine of Exciting Photographs and Articles." This is a very early Marilyn Monroe, trying to make a name for herself in film and modeling, but not yet the world wide known starlet she will shortly become.
|FOTO PARADE Vol 1, #1 (Dec/49) p.6|
|FOTO PARADE Vol 1, #1 (Dec/49) p.8|
Focus Vol 1, #5 (Dec/51)
The next time we see Marilyn is on the cover of the long-running magazine Focus, with the sub-heading "Features and Fotos about People and Places". Goodman's Focus had 3 different incarnations. It first appeared as a standard-sized magazine published by the sub-publisher Non-Pareil Publishing Corp. at the same time of Foto Parade above, Vol 1, #1 (Dec/49). Bruce Jacobs was the editor and Ray Robinson (of Goodman's sports magazines) was associate editor. The magazine was extremely thin (only 32 pages) and sported a surprisingly low cover price of only 10 cents! Cover articles included "Sex in College" and "The Nazis Still Run Germany".
(All of these Goodman picture magazines will be a subject of a future blog post. I'm saving all the images for that time, preferring to let Marilyn have her day on this entry!)
It then vanished and reappeared as a 25 cent bedsheet ,Vol 1, #2 (May/50), this time edited by Stan Lee's uncle, Robbie Solomon, and a cover sub-heading "A Pictorial Closeup of People". After a three month additional hiatus, it returned in the same bedsheet format but this time Stan Lee was now the editor. It then appears to have ended with Vol 1, #5 (Dec/50), which had a great pictorial article about Yogi Berra of the New York Yankees.
Focus then reappears again as Vol 1, #1, cover dated Aug/51, as a tiny pocket-sized magazine, a very popular newsstand format of the time where nearly all publishers released photo and picture magazines in this format. Pocket magazines were meant to fit in the reader's pocket! They were a minuscule 5 3/4 by 4 inches in size, with a cover price of 10 cents. Martin Goodman published at least 6 different titles in that format, some only an issue before changing to a different size.
To give you an idea of the size variations of the various magazines, here is an illustration depicting 4 different sizes of Goodman publications, all Marilyn Monroe covers that will be shown here, from bedsheet to regular magazine to digest and down to pocket-sized:
This third incarnation of Focus would stay pocket-sized until the end in 1957 and be edited up to April 1953 by Arnold Hano (Bonnie Hano's husband) and then by James A. Bryans for the rest of its life. (It was killed by the Atlas implosion in the Spring of 1957). The entire 1951 to 1957 run was published by Goodman's Leading Magazine Corp. and all issues have the Atlas globe on the cover, as do all of Goodman's magazines from Nov/51 through Sept/57 cover dates.
Marilyn Monroe's appearances in Focus seems to her most popular and common destination in Goodman's magazines. I've found her on 7 different covers, a back cover, and numerous additional interior articles/photo spreads. Here they are in succession...
In Vol 1, #5 (Dec/51), Marilyn gets the cover and a 6 page article titled "Sex Appeal". How's this for an opening... "When she sucks in her gut and stands on dainty tiptoe, nobody would dare guess they once tried to cast her as a boy."
Focus Vol 2, #5 (May/52)
Marilyn appears in the article: "The 10 Best Undressed Women of '52". The top 10 were Keolaha Keaki, Jabe Russell, Lili St. Cyr, Trudy Williams, Ava Gardner, Ester Williams, Leslie Caron, Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe and Mara Corday (in the centerfold!).
Focus Vol 2, #8 (Aug/52)
For the cover article "10 Sexiest Men in the World (and their Women)", Marilyn appears in the centerfold with her future-husband, Joe Dimaggio.
Focus Vol 2, #12 (Dec/52)
An early photo of Marilyn on the cover only.
Focus Vol 3, #3 (Mar/53)
The cover and six page article "The End of Marilyn Monroe", including centerfold, pages 28-33.
Focus Vol 3, #5 (May/53)
And the inside front cover:
Focus Vol 3, #11 (August 5, 1953)
Focus must have been so successful that for an 8 month period between June of 1953 and February of 1954 it was actually published twice a month! Marilyn will appear in two places this issue, on the inside front cover and in the centerfold of the article "Sex is Getting Too Complicated".
|Focus Vol 3, #11 (August 5, 1953) (inside front cover)|
|Focus Vol 3, #11 (August 5, 1953) (centerfold)|
Focus Vol 3, #13 (September 2, 1953)
Marilyn appears in a three page photo spread titled "You've Never Seen Monroe Like This".
Focus Vol 3, #17 (October 28, 1953)
Another three page article on Monroe titled "Pinch-hitting for DiMaggio". In this case, it's columnist Walter Winchell. Pages 40-42.
Focus Vol 4, #7 (Jun/54)
Cover and four page article "Marilyn Monroe flops", about how Niagara flopped in Brazil.
Focus Vol 4, #10 (Sept/54)
A four page Monroe article titled "How Monroe Pitched her First Curve".
Focus Vol 5, #1 (Jan/55)
Cover and three page article "The Picture Marilyn Didn't Want Shot".
Focus Vol 5, #3 (Mar/55)
Inside front cover only.
Focus Vol 5, #4 (Apr/55)
Single head shot this issue on the "Focus on Headlines and Headliners" page.
Focus Vol 5, #7 (July/55)
Back cover and four page article "Who's Making a Monkey Out of Marilyn?"
Focus Vol 5, #9 (Sept/55)
Marilyn Monroe and Milton Berle back cover. (And a Joe Maneely illustration on p.22!!!!!)
|Joe Maneely illustration!!!|
Focus Vol 5, #11 (Nov/55)
I don't have access to the interior at this moment. Here is the cover.
Filmland Vol 3, #1 (Jan/53)
The next title to feature Marilyn was Goodman's Filmland, one of several film magazines that came out under the editorship of Bessie Little for Magazine Management. Filmland was published monthly by Red Circle Magazine Inc., a sub-publisher that first appeared in 1943 to publish the 5th and 6th releases of Goodman's crime digest paperbacks under the banner Crime Novel Selection #5 and #6. Other publications that sported this publisher include the comic book My Own Romance, Hedy Devine and Comic Capers. The Atlas Mad Magazine clone Snafu also was published under this sub-publisher as well as releases #2 through #5 of Goodman's Red Circle Books, the immediate short-term predecessor to Lion Books.
This issue of Filmland features and iconic breathy pose by Monroe on the cover and a short feature purportedly written by Marilyn herself titled "Failure Was My Spur". Interestingly, Rock Hudson purports to also write the article "My Look at Love", his take on women and his love life.
Eye - People and Pictures Vol 3, #2 (Feb/53)
I find Marilyn next in the digest version of Eye - People and Pictures. Eye was Goodman's debut picture magazine re-launch at the Magazine Management 1949 expansion (he had others earlier during the war) and began as a large bedsheet before shrinking to digest size (see size comparisons in the photo posted above). Marilyn appears on the cover only and the photo looks like it was a colorized black and white photo with an added background.
Eye - People and Pictures Vol 3, #9 (Sept/53)
Marilyn has the lead article, an 8 page pictorial , "Marilyn Learns - How to Marry a Millionaire" while the cover blares "Special - New Marilyn Monroe Photos" showing another cover model, Joyce Johnson.
Eye - People and Pictures Vol 5, #4 (Aug/55)
Marilyn will show up again in Eye as one of many starlets in the article "A Pictorial Guide to the World's Greatest Blondes". In addition to Monroe, will be features on earlier blondes Marlene Dietrich, Carol Lombard, Jean Harlow, Lana Turner, Betty Hutton, Betty Grable, as well as on "the new blondes", Eva Marie Saint, Mamie Van Doren, Pat Gale and Zsa Zsa Gabor. Also mentioned are Roxanne, Gloria Pall, Lilly Christine, Lili St. Cyr and "the show blondes" including Sheree North. "Miscellaneous blondes" include Maria Stinger, Jan Sterling, Marion Brash, Sara Shane, Eve Meyer and Carol Blake. "Today's blonde" is Betty Brosmer and "tomorrow's blonde" Anita Ekberg. Whew!
Here's Marilyn's segment...
Brief Vol 1, #3 (Mar/53)
Title-wise, Marilyn next appears in the digest Brief. Up to this point, all these photo, people and news magazines were little more than Goodman's attempt to show pictures of young, pretty, semi-naked women. Every single magazine sported models and starlets on the cover, back cover, in feature articles and photo spreads, intermixed with sensational news items. Brief was an attempt to get out of the gutter, at least at first. The digest was laid out differently, was squarebound, rather than a stapled pamphlet, and featured the occasional "name" writer. (As seen in our book, Mort Walker drew illustrations in a few issues). Pretty girls still can be found but they were less that 10% of the interior. Even the cover models, at first, were more demure. And Goodman paid more for the articles!
When Brief debuted in late 1952, Writer's Digest covered it extensively in their September, 1952 issue:
"The newest title in the Martin Goodman group, Magazine Management Company, is Brief Magazine, which will appear the latter part of October. It is to be a monthly for general circulation, and will place its chief emphasis on subjects of all ages. Material falls into a wide variety of groups: business enterprises, celebrities, children, communities, crime, culture and education, family, entertainment fields, fashion and food, the home, medicine and health, movies, personalities, science, sex, self-help - anything to interest the family group."
"As for the treatment, Brief will aim at a balanced proportion of fact-articles, first-person pieces, and humor - satirical or otherwise. It will use picture stories and a good deal of illustrative material. Short fillers of about 100 words are also wanted. But no fiction, no poetry, no gag cartoons."
"Article lengths run 1,000 to 2,500 words. The average payment is $200 but depends on length, basic value to the magazine, etc. Lead articles will rate up to $500. A photo-essay that runs four to six magazine pages will bring about $200. Payment is promised within a week of acceptance. Address queries and material for Brief to Robert J. Levin, editor, at 270 Park Avenue, N.Y. 17."(2)
After a period of perceived upscaleness, Brief would eventually revert to form, first continued as a digest similar to Photo and then a stapled pocket-sized magazine exactly similar to Focus and Sensation. Cheesecake ultimately sold better.
In this third issue of Brief, Marilyn gets the inside front cover and a monstrous 10 page photo feature! I'm putting the non-Marilyn cover up below because it's a good one! The cover model is Rosemarie Bowe.
Brief Vol 1, #6 (Aug/53)
In this issue of Brief, Marilyn is not really the subject of the article "After Marilyn ... What?". After appearing on page 25, the rest of the feature is about "other" top contenders to follow her into fame. The contenders following are Mara Corday, Terry Moore, Ursula Thiess and Elaine Stewart.
Brief Vol 2, #3 (June/54)
The cover blares "New Unpublished Photos of Marilyn Monroe" and inside are 8 pages of candid photos of Marilyn filming "River of No Return " in the Canadian Rockies. "Marilyn Makes a Movie". This is what the ambitious Brief has shortly degenerated into. Just another pin-up magazine.
Movie World Vol 4, #5 (Sept/53)
The next strictly movie magazine we find Marilyn is Movie World. Marilyn gives us a killer cover and there's a 3-page cover feature "Is Marilyn Monroe More Than Sexy?"
Comedy Vol 3, #15 (Sept/53)
I have not gone through the scores and scores of Goodman Humorama pin-up digests looking for Marilyn Monroe but I did have a note in my records that Marilyn was on page 58 of this one. Pulling it out reveals she is! And completely unidentified as Marilyn Monroe. Either her image was so iconic that she didn't need identifying (it was!) or Abe Goodman (Martin's brother, who ran this line of publishing) just sneaked it in. It goes without saying Marilyn could be lurking in many other issues.
Photo Vol 3, #6 (June/54)
The only appearance I could find in Photo was this issue (I looked in about 20 issues). Marilyn has the inside front cover and 5 pages inside under an article titled "Hollywood's Perfect Pin-Up". Photo and the new, previously seen Brief, were now exactly the same type of magazine, girly pin-up.
Screen Stars Vol 12, #5 (Nov/54)
Screen Stars is the third major Goodman movie magazine to feature Marilyn Monroe on the cover and the grandfather of all Goodman movie magazines, debuting with Vol 1, #1 (Apr/44). With Bessie Little as editor, this issue sports a fabulous Monroe image and inside a 6 page, text-heavy article "Things They Never Told About Marilyn". Additionally, she can also be found on page 39.
And for those who like to read the articles rather than look at the pretty pictures, here's the entire article including the last two text pages. It's kind of poignant reading at the end about how a nice secure future was in store for both Marilyn and Joe. They'd be separated shortly after this and Marilyn would be gone in eight years hence.
Sensation Vol 2, #1 (June/55)
Sensation was another small pocket-sized magazine similar to the above Picture Life and the previously extensively seen Focus, although it dealt less with world and political news and more with celebrity gossip (and all three titles with heavy doses of pin-up girls!).
This issue below addresses the earth-shattering break-up of screen starlet Marilyn Monroe and retired baseball idol Joe DiMaggio, the biggest couple of the day and one of the largest celebrity gossip news items of all time.
Bunk! Vol 1, #1 (Feb/56)
In 1955 Martin Goodman told the editor-in-chief of his comic book division to create a knock-off of the recently successful Bill Gaines humor publication Mad Magazine. Goodman's Atlas had already done knock-offs of Mad's earlier comic book version with Wild, Crazy and Riot, and when the converted magazine version of Mad took off sales-wise it was a natural that Goodman would follow suit. The magazine was Snafu, and it lasted only three issues, the last issue cover-dated Mar/56. Snafu was written by Stan Lee and produced in full or part by his closest Atlas artistic collaborators, namely Joe Maneely, John Severin, Bill Everett, Russ Heath, Howie Post and Marie Severin (in production). It consisted of parody, satire, and overall wackiness of the illustrated and photo variety, but was primarily illustrated.
Running with this idea, Goodman then released Bunk! #1 cover dated Feb/56, in the off-month between Snafu #2 (Jan) and #3 (Mar). Unlike all of Goodman's newsstand magazines, Bunk! had no credits at all inside, leading me to feel it was produced by the same editorial staff as Snafu, namely Stan Lee, except that Bunk! was 90% photo humor (what Stan Lee excelled at) and only 10% illustration (Joe Maneely and John Severin). This was the direct opposite of Snafu, which was 90% illustration and 10% photo humor. The answer to me is that Bunk! was nothing more than Snafu inventory, packaged slightly more upscale in a squarebound magazine.
Bunk! was published bi-monthly by Goodman's Foto Parade Inc. sub-publisher, and apparently was supposed to be alternating with Snafu on the newsstands. Unfortunately it appears to have lasted a single issue and was cancelled along with Snafu at the same time. A likely scenario of Bunk's existence could be that Snafu's impending cancellation prompted Goodman to produce Bunk! as a way to burn off Snafu's inventory while trying an entirely new title. Alternately, perhaps Stan Lee used up so much of the illustrated Snafu material he was left with an abundance of photo humor material that had no place to go. As it stands, some of the illustrated material, including a Joe Maneely full-page inside front cover gag liquor ad, appears to be unused Snafu material. There is related precedence on this as I believe Read! (Jan/43) was a way to burn off Stag/Male Home Companion inventory following the Joseph Alvin Kugelmass prison fiasco. (See The Secret History of Marvel Comics for details).
Marilyn Monroe appears on the left side of the cover in a censored pose from her infamous calender shoot and on the contents page. Inside is a 2-page humorous take on that calender spread. She also appears on the back cover in a coming attraction ad for a second issue that never seemingly materialized.
Bachelor was Goodman's companion magazine to his Swank, both edited by Bruce Jay Friedman. Swank was picked up by Goodman in 1955 following two earlier short runs in the 1940's, the first 7 issues published by Victor Fox under his Elite Publications, Inc. and then Swank Publications, Inc. companies. This early run was a large-sized Esquire clone. The second later 1940's run was a small digest featuring reprints of articles by name writers that had already been published elsewhere, like a Reader's Digest clone with a male-oriented slant.
Goodman picked up the discarded Swank and immediately tested the first release as a small pocket-sized magazine, numbering it inexplicably Vol 2, #3, (and not following any logic of earlier version numbering) before turning it into a poor-man's Playboy (1950's version), minus most of the naked photos!
Bachelor followed suit in Jan/57, also tested at first as a small pocket-sized magazine (and also inexplicably numbered Vol 1, #2, and without an earlier predecessor, as far as I know) and then as an even poorer man's Playboy! The first magazine-sized issue below features Marilyn as part of the cover. Note the image at the bottom right is the same photo used on the cover of the Jan/55 Focus posted above, with a phony zebra striped dress painted over the original black lingerie of the photo. Wait a minute... "all" those photos were covers of earlier issues of Focus!!! Here are two more I see that Goodman re-used...
Both Swank and Bachelor would go on to long runs, after Goodman sold them, as increasing rivals to Playboy as the decades went on. At some point Martin's son Chip reacquired them and ran them as hardcore skin magazines, Bachelor into the 1980's, and Swank, which continues to run to this very day.
Hollywood Life Vol 2, #1 (Sept/57)
Finally, out last entry (for now). This later Goodman film magazine featured Marilyn as part of the cover. her entry is on page 50. The magazine is nothing more than scores of one-page celebrity gossip updates. Note at the bottom left of the cover is the Atlas globe, this being the latest month the globe will ever appear (Sept/57) as Goodman lost his distributor when ANC (American news Corp.) crashed in April. There is an October cover month with the globe, the comic book Dippy Duck #1, but this is a clerical anomaly as cover proofs show an original Sept/57 date and the issue was on the stands with August and September cover-dated comics.
And that's it for now. There is no way I've found every Marilyn Monroe story among the litany of Goodman magazines but I bet I've found most/all of the cover appearances. Feel free to send me data on any new discoveries in care of this blog.
- Martin Goodman quoted in "Big Business in Pulp Thrillers," The Literary Digest, January 23, 1937 p.30-31.
- Writer's Digest, September, 1952.