Ebony Magazine was launched in 1945 by John H. Johnson, with help from his wife Eunice Johnson. While it was not the first magazine published specifically for the African-American audience, it was the most successful and has run in print for over seventy years. Modeled after Life Magazine, Ebony gives a platform to the achievements of African-Americans and discusses general interest features such as celebrities, culture, history, fashion, and more. It has been noted that initially Ebony’s content focused on imagery and lifestyle that was more aspirational than realistic – airlines did not hire black flight attendants, for example, in contrast to illustrations that portrayed them as such – but by the 70s it seems more tangible that a black woman could be working as a Delta Airlines customer service representative, or a black man could be a powerful businessman in an Italian suit, or a Broadway producer, or any number of things that would have been unthinkable by the previous generation.
The fully digitized issue of this magazine can be found here, which I highly recommend at least skimming through because there’s tons of great stuff that I couldn’t fit into this week’s review.
Pardon the DOES NOT CIRCULATE stamp. I got this on sale from Easton Area Public Library, which has an eBay store that sells the old magazines from their collection. Super duper!
This magazine was a lot larger in size than I had expected – 10×12, about the size of an old Rolling Stone. All the better for that awkward gap of white space around Diana Ross’s name, but as you can see she is diva enough to require her own unique font. Someday I hope to be cool enough that my name gets its own font on a magazine cover.
Ebony had its own librarian on staff! I’m so jealous. I would love to be a magazine’s official librarian. And this is not the only time you’re going to see a FAT-OFF ad in this magazine. If nothing else I have to give them props for their stylish label design. It kind of looks like a hair product you’d buy at Lush today, except it would be called FAT HEAD or something.
The shift in advertising to working women is notable.
William C. Rodgers – probably responsible for hold music. Boo this man!
Love the lady computer engineer.
Dee Cee! L.A. – Lovely Atlanta!
I would take this family over our current First Family of America in a heartbeat.
First off, I approve of any dinner in which you have at least three different kinds of sherry. Even if that soup looks super gross. I’m sure the sherry will help. And yeah, Esoterica is a skin bleach. You can still buy it today. And it’s not the only skin bleach you’ll see advertised in this. Sigh.
Last issue’s article on the Bicentennial set off a lot of discussion on whether or not black people should celebrate it, and I think everyone who was published here has very good arguments for and against (with one side-eye to G. Bowman of Melbourne, Florida, as no good argument has ever concluded with “America: love it or leave it”). And I hope little Deborah Donaldson makes it to 116 so that she can see the Tricentennial.
Also, poor Sam Lightin’ Hopkins. It can’t feel good to see yourself in a magazine identified as the late version. I hope somebody got fired for that damaging blunder.
I think that’s Catelyn Jenner carrying the flag in the back? You’d think they would be more OMG!! about it. And what’s with the weird carryover text to the other side of the page? It’s so jarring.
I always wonder about who won these contests. Hope they had a good time.
Oh god I can smell the cigarette smoke through space and time. The psychedelic animals outside do not approve of shenanigans about to go down in this sexmobile.
This feels remarkably Pythonesque.
A short history of black presidential staff members.
Louis Slaughter and Edward Carr did a comic strip called Butter and Boop. It’s pretty terrible.
The Ebony Fashion Fair was a line of cosmetics and an annual African-American fashion expo that ran until 2009. You can read a really good article on it from NPR here.
Diahann Carroll today is 82 years old and doesn’t look a minute over 30, so clearly something in that moisturizer has been working for her.
Some good-looking reading on black history and issues in black society. And no, Massengill, there is not.
I like his patriotic color scheme. Very bicentennial-appropriate.
According to sources, she served for 13 years! Good for her.
If I’m reading this text right, Leslie Uggams can raise the dead? And still look hot in this outfit while doing it?
Don’t catch your beard on fire!
I want to be best friends with Sly and Sylvia!
Hello children! What are my little cookies up to today?
Useful beauty tips from hot women, step 1: be a hot woman. Step 2: take the parts of you that are sexiest and make them sexier. Step 3: pay really close attention to what the hot woman who has been married for three years has to say about staying hot after marriage (she was apparently divorced by the end of the year, probably by the time this went to press – ouch).
“Attach nozzle to unit” does not go with something that belongs anywhere near your lady parts.
Which one’s your favorite? I’m caught between Sophisticated Lady and Super Freedom Shag.
Whee! WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!
Fashion for the sophisticated businessman without the “Faddish clutter”. Where’s the fun in that?
NOW WE’RE TALKING
I’m just picturing little cartoon pixies that live in her fro singing out all the mean things she does to her hair.
Lemons! Put them in your drinks! Or juice them or something but really here are a bunch of suggestions that come down to “put it in your drink”.
Are those teeth on her blouse?
Yes it took this long to get to the cover story because Ebony is jam-packed with so much amazing stuff to look at. Speaking of amazing to look at, HELLO Billy Dee. He is looking yummy. I haven’t seen Mahogany and I really need to fix that, because going off this it’s nothing but Diana Ross looking amazing and either holding or being held by various hot men.
I would absolutely wear that dark red outfit.
Apparently in the 70s the fish sandwich at Burger King was called the Whaler. Huh. They probably had to change the name when they ran low on whales.
I’m getting a 70s Frank and Sadie Doyle from The Thrilling Adventure Hour vibe off these people. Do they drink themselves three sheets to the wind and then talk to ghosts? ARE they drunk ghosts?
NOT SMOKING WOULD PROBABLY HELP
Oooh, do I want “Private Secretary” or “Daisy Jones”? No, no, I definitely want “Boss Lady” so that I, too, can be the leader of my own set.
You will never be as hot as these people, I don’t care how long your deathstick is.
Thanks for reading another week with me! Next week we’re going back a decade to look at another Seventeen, which in 1962 might as well have been called Child Bride Monthly.
Oh, and THANKS FOR WRITING OLD MAGAZINES IN AS YOUR FAVORITE FEATURE on the Avocado Census poll! You may all collect your bribe chocolates at the door. But really, thank you. if you’re still in a questionnaire answering mood, I have a NEW FEEDBACK SURVEY up and I would love your thoughts on image clarity, posting schedules, and what to do when encountering rabid stray Trumps in the wild. The survey will close on June 7.