We here at Los Angeles magazine recently celebrated our 50th anniversary in a big way. We’re very proud of our wonderful publication and as much as we are always looking forward to the next issue, sometimes we want to shine the spotlight on our illustrious past. Our predecessors here created some damn cool stuff, and with six hundred bound issues at my fingertips, this is a good time to dig out my favorites and share them with you. And just like that, your new favorite lamag.com feature is born: Vintage Cover of the Week!
Even though this is actually “Vol. 2, No. 3” of a magazine called The Los Angeles and Southern California Prompter, it is the first issue with Los Angeles big and proud on the cover. This Cartoon Modern painting is so good it needs to be a nine-foot mural on my wall. The tall fins, breezy sunshine and mandatory porkpie hats are the stuff of my dreams. The “first” issue (I haven’t even told you about the larval-stage L.A. magazine produced in 1958-59) is flimsy at 48 pages, but loaded with observations and mementos from a city riding high on aerospace, entertainment and liquor advertising. There’s a great feature on the still thriving The Bachelors club, a feature on how people were willing to pay up to fifty cents to see a blockbuster museum show and the great TV programs coming out of local animation studios Hanna-Barbera and Jay Ward Productions. They even rate Pixie and Dixie a “must view.” Their review of Billy Wilder’s The Apartment: “Genuinely funny, truly human, occasionally moving, consistently artistic and yet basically a trivial film.” I was impressed with historical features on the birth of L.A. radio, the canals of Venice and Naples, the Bradbury building and the little-known Hueneme, Malibu and Port Los Angeles railroad. I think my favorite line was in a calendar listing for Angels baseball. The early magazines are funny and full of hubris and boosterism. The item notes that the season begins at Wrigley Field, the long-gone stadium at 41st and Avalon, which is “not to be confused with a small park of the same name in a small Midwestern city.”