Look magazine ran from 1937-1971 and was a less prestigious but no less popular competitor of Life magazine. Today its lasting legacy is probably for launching the photography career of Stanley Kubrick, but at its peak circulation the magazine was a household fixture with thoughtful articles, well known contributors (you don’t get better than both JFK and MLK, as this issue proves), and good photography. Unlike what we’ve seen before with Playboy and Esquire, Look is nowhere near as absorbed into its own brand and identity, which may have ultimately been its downfall.
Today we are going to dive into our wackiest Jetsons-esque fantasies and celebrate Look magazine’s 25th anniversary with a look into where we could be as a nation and a world in the next 25 years. This is January 16, 1962, and we are going back to…THE FUTURE.
There will be some sad and heavy moments here, especially if you’re paying attention to the life spans of these featured 20th century icons on the cover and comparing them to the publication date. We will get to that. But first, let’s catch up on what’s going down in 1962 by looking at the letters to the editor.
Well, the last issue certainly sounds like it was fun! Fallout shelters and birth control! Do not fvck with that Mrs. David M. Rogers of Detroit, Michigan, her vault is stocked and she is ready to rebuild America brick by radioactive brick. Personally I’m with A.L. Bolin of Jacksonville, Florida on this one.
And now: thoughtful future predictions from the most radical and influential minds of 1962.
Try not to cry, for real. JFK would be assassinated less than two years after writing this.
Apparently we are now living in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ultimate dystopia. He would be assassinated six years after writing this.
Mike Nichols, you wiseass.
Take a breath, Billy Graham.
I’ll pass on the lima bean soup, thanks
What if you actually tried this diet? Does it stop at day 21 because you die from hypertension before that?
They were depressingly optimistic as to how robust our space program would be by 1987, and what we would be doing with it. No one would have imagined Reagan and his Death Lasers from Outer Space vision. Gotta love that rainbow timeline graphic.
“There is little chance that the Soviet Union will agree to share the expenses with us.”
Look at those arrows, just screaming out that America’s space-dick is bigger than Russia’s.
Let’s lighten the mood with what the ladies of 1987 will be wearing! They kinda look like clothes from about 2008, don’t they? Evidently they asked a computer named UNIVAC to predict fashion and then they asked up and coming Fashion Man Bill Blass to interpret what the computer said. So even if he missed the 80s by a long shot here, he still took a good crack at the look of the future. And, as we gaze into the crystal ball, Bill Blass became The Name of Fashion in the 80s by helping to create the iconic look of Nancy Reagan.
Lady Clairol side effects include: fried roots, vampires
Did that sandwich full of catsup not make you feel sufficiently manly? Hoo-ah!
Mother’s futuristic social calendar for 1987 sure does involve a lot of pills.
Also it’s comforting to know that even in the future-that-never-was, the Boston Red Sox still suck.
They were really into the idea of living in concrete houses.
What really starts to hit me by this point is that the writers really thought that a futuristic society would still idealize the stay at home housewife whose priority was to make an elaborate dinner for her man and his boss. They have about a decade of maintaining the safety of the status quo before Women’s Lib shows up to knock them on their asses. It will not be pretty.
No, no it will not be.
To their credit, their 1987 office sounds quite a bit like some insufferable San Francisco startup from 2013.
Oh. This is going to hurt, isn’t it.
Marilyn Monroe died nine months after this feature.
Shirley’s still kickin’ it and being her usual nut-job self.
Oh, hey Judy. Judy Garland would not survive the decade.
The tragedy just doesn’t end! Ketchup on steak?! Russia, just nuke 1962 into oblivion already!
And we close on a dick joke. Because who has time for subtlety when the commies are about to get us?
Thanks for reading this week’s journey through an old magazine. I haven’t decided where we’re going next week, but it may involve the home front of World War II.