The 1968 Exhibit: "Movie Mirror" fan magazine, January 1968

movie-mirrorMovie mags: the more things change, the more they stay the same

Movie magazines--filled with gossip, pictures, and ads--have been around just about as long as the movies themselves. (Photoplay and Motion Picture each began publication--amazingly--in 1911, and both continued for nearly 70 more years.) *The formula remained virtually unchanged for decades: "behind-the-scenes" backlot stories; gossip columns; candid shots of movie stars at parties and at home; relentless reportage on marriages, divorces, and love affairs. *My guess is that they were most popular when the movies themselves most intensely commanded the public's leisure hours, that is, Hollywood's "Golden Age," between about 1920 and 1945 or so. *When TV came along in the late 1940s, the magazines were forced to accommodate whole new boatloads of "stars." *This particular rag may be called Movie Mirror, but look who's on the cover in 1968: *America's sweethearts, the squeaky-clean Lennon Sisters singing group from television's wildly popular Lawrence Welk Show. * (This was a big year for the Lennons, who were now mostly grown-up Mommies, as evidenced in this cover photo. *1968 was the year they left the show to start work on a variety series of their own.)

Liz and Dick and Eddie and Debbie and Jackie and Mia and Frank and.....

In the 1960s, there were several public "stars" who were mainstays for the gossip rags: *Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton; Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds; Elvis; Jackie Kennedy. *Liz Taylor was a nearly monthly fixture on movie-mag covers beginning about 1950; First Lady Jackie Kennedy--"America's Newest Star"--began appearing on the cover of Photoplay in 1962. *They remained in the public eye for what seems, in retrospect, to be close to forever. *With the exception of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, it's hard to think of stars today who have quite that endurance. *The half-life of the gossip-worthy tabloid figure has shortened considerably. *One cannot*imagine, for example, that five years from now that the tabloids--or their more "upscale" equivalents, such as People--will be paying much attention to Jon and Kate Gosselin. * And movie magazines themselves, for that matter, have all but disappeared, replaced by the ever-popular tabloids and by*People and US Weekly and other rags following not just movie stars, but socialites, millionaires, reality-TV and talk-show stars, and endless personalities who are famous for being famous-- you know who I mean.

"Do you want a dream figure?"

So here, in January 1968's Movie Mirror are the usual suspects: *paparazzi photos of Liz and Dick on vacation with boatloads (literally) of their kids; Eddie Fisher (cuckolded former husband of Liz, looking a little worse for wear) and his current celebrity girlfriend, songstress Connie Stevens; Jackie Kennedy, romantically linked with the titled, hyphenated British diplomat David Ormsby-Gore; Elvis tiffing with wife Priscilla; Mia Farrow, unhappily married to Frank Sinatra, and heading off to India to see the Mararishi Mahesh Yogi ("What personal demons pursue her halfway around the world to a Shangri-La?"). *And the usual ads, overwhelmingly aimed at women, mostly for products promising personal transformation: girdles ("Compreso-Belt"); push-up bras, wigs, diet aids, teeth and skin whiteners, acne creams, varicose vein removers, and alcoholism cures.