McCall's was a monthly American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 women's magazine
Magazines, periodicals, glossies or serials are publications, generally published on a regular schedule, containing a variety of articles. They are generally financed by advertising, by a purchase price, by pre-paid magazine subscriptions, or all three...

 that enjoyed great popularity through much of the 20th century, peaking at a readership of 8.4 million in the early 1960s. It was established as a small-format magazine called The Queen in 1873. In 1897 it was renamed McCall's Magazine—The Queen of Fashion (later shortened to McCall's) and subsequently grew in size to become a large-format glossy. It was one of the "Seven Sisters
Seven Sisters (magazines)
The Seven Sisters are a group of magazines which have traditionally been aimed at married women who are homemakers with husbands and children, rather than single and working women. The name is derived from the Greek myth of the "seven sisters", also known as the Pleiades...

" group of women's service magazines.

McCall's published fiction by such well-known authors as Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury
Ray Douglas Bradbury is an American fantasy, horror, science fiction, and mystery writer. Best known for his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 and for the science fiction stories gathered together as The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man , Bradbury is one of the most celebrated among 20th...

, Gelett Burgess
Gelett Burgess
Frank Gelett Burgess was an artist, art critic, poet, author and humorist. An important figure in the San Francisco Bay Area literary renaissance of the 1890s, particularly through his iconoclastic little magazine, The Lark, he is best known as a writer of nonsense verse...

, Willa Cather
Willa Cather
Willa Seibert Cather was an American author who achieved recognition for her novels of frontier life on the Great Plains, in works such as O Pioneers!, My Ántonia, and The Song of the Lark. In 1923 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for One of Ours , a novel set during World War I...

, Jack Finney
Jack Finney
Jack Finney was an American author. His best-known works are science fiction and thrillers, including The Body Snatchers and Time and Again. The former was the basis for the 1956 movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers and its remakes.-Biography:Finney was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and given the...

, F. Scott Fitzgerald
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was an American author of novels and short stories, whose works are the paradigm writings of the Jazz Age, a term he coined himself. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. Fitzgerald is considered a member of the "Lost...

, Barbara Garson
Barbara Garson
Barbara Garson is an American playwright, author and social activist.Garson is best known for the play MacBird, a notorious 1966 counterculture drama/political parody of Macbeth that sold over half a million copies as a book and had over 90 productions world wide...

, John Steinbeck
John Steinbeck
John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr. was an American writer. He is widely known for the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden and the novella Of Mice and Men...

, Tim O'Brien
Tim O'Brien
Tim O'Brien may refer to:* Tim O'Brien , American author* Timothy O'Brien , Irish professor* Timothy L...

, Anne Tyler
Anne Tyler
Anne Tyler is an American novelist.Tyler, the eldest of four children, was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her father was a chemist and her mother a social worker. Her early childhood was spent in a succession of Quaker communities in the mountains of North Carolina and in Raleigh...

 and Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. was a 20th century American writer. His works such as Cat's Cradle , Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions blend satire, gallows humor and science fiction. He was known for his humanist beliefs and was honorary president of the American Humanist Association.-Early...



From June 1949 until her death in November 1962, Eleanor Roosevelt wrote a McCall's column, "If You Ask Me". The former First Lady gave brief answers to questions sent in to the magazine.

Starting in May 1951, and lasting until at least 1995, Betsy McCall paper dolls were printed in most issues. Children could cut out the printed dolls and clothing, or for a small fee (10¢ in 1957, 25¢ in 1967) paper dolls printed on cardboard could be ordered. Betsy McCall became so popular that various sized vinyl dolls were produced by Ideal and American Character Dolls.

Another popular feature which ran for many years was the cartoon panel "It's All in the Family" by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Stan and Jan Berenstain
Stan and Jan Berenstain were American writers and illustrators best known for creating the children's book series the Berenstain Bears....


Film critic Pauline Kael
Pauline Kael
Pauline Kael was an American film critic who wrote for The New Yorker magazine from 1968 to 1991. Earlier in her career, her work appeared in City Lights, McCall's and The New Republic....

 worked at McCall's from 1965 to 1966, and was reportedly fired after writing a highly unfavorable review of The Sound of Music
The Sound of Music (film)
Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music is a 1965 American musical film directed by Robert Wise and starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. The film is based on the Broadway musical The Sound of Music, with songs written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, and with the musical...


Sewing Patterns and The Queen of Fashion

In 1870, Scottish immigrant James McCall began designing and printing his own line of sewing patterns. As a means of advertising his patterns, McCall founded a four-page fashion journal entitled The Queen: Illustrating McCall's Bazaar Glove-Fitting Patterns.

When McCall died in 1884, his widow became president of McCall Company, and hired Mrs. George Bladsworth as magazine editor. Mrs. Bladsworth held the position until 1891. Though still mainly a vehicle to sell McCall's sewing patterns, The Queen began to publish homemaking and handiwork information, and by 1890 had expanded to 12 pages. In 1891, the magazine's name became The Queen of Fashion, and the cost for a year's subscription was 30 cents.

In 1893, James Henry Ottley took over the McCall Company. He increased the subscription price to 50 cents a year, increased the number of pages to between 16 and 30 per issue, and began to publish articles on children's issues, health, beauty, and foreign travel. In order to reflect the magazine's expanded range of topics, the name was changed to McCall's Magazine—The Queen of Fashion in 1897. In time, the name would be shortened to McCall's.

Despite the name changes, for many years information on McCall's Patterns filled an average of 20 percent of the magazine's pages.

McCall's Magazine

In 1913, the magazine was purchased by the banking firm of White Weld & Co.
White Weld & Co.
White Weld & Co. was a Boston-based investment bank, historically managed by Boston Brahmins until its sale to Merrill Lynch in 1978. The Weld family name can be traced back to the founding of Massachusetts in the 1630s.-History:...

, which organized the McCall Corporation
McCall Corporation
McCall Corporation was an American publishing company that produced some popular magazines. These included Redbook for women, Bluebook for men, McCall's, the Saturday Review, and Popular Mechanics...

 under the direction of president Edward Alfred Simmons. In 1917, the price was raised to 10 cents per issue. In 1922, Harry Payne Burton became editor, and for the first time such well-known fiction writers as Kathleen Norris
Kathleen Norris
Kathleen Thompson Norris was an American novelist and wife of fellow writer Charles Norris, whom she wed in 1909...

, Harold Bell Wright
Harold Bell Wright
Harold Bell Wright was a best-selling American writer of fiction, essays, and non-fiction during the first half of the 20th century. Although mostly forgotten or ignored after the middle of the 20th century, he is said to have been the first American writer to sell a million copies of a novel and...

, Zane Grey
Zane Grey
Zane Grey was an American author best known for his popular adventure novels and stories that presented an idealized image of the Old West. Riders of the Purple Sage was his bestselling book. In addition to the success of his printed works, they later had second lives and continuing influence...

 and Booth Tarkington
Booth Tarkington
Booth Tarkington was an American novelist and dramatist best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning novels The Magnificent Ambersons and Alice Adams...

 had stories published in McCall's.

In 1928, the 23 year-old associate editor, Otis Wiese, was promoted to editor. He believed "women were ready for more significant fiction than Gene Stratton-Porter
Gene Stratton-Porter
Gene Stratton-Porter was an American author, amateur naturalist, wildlife photographer, and one of the earliest women to form a movie studio and production company. She wrote some best-selling novels and well-received columns in national magazines, such as McCalls...

" and suggested that McCall's sell Burton's acquisitions of popular fiction to Ladies Home Journal and Woman's Home Companion
Woman's Home Companion
Woman's Home Companion was an American monthly publication, published from 1873 to 1957. It was highly successful, climbing to a circulation peak of more than four million during the 1930s and 1940s....

. Such radical ideas caused Wiese to be fired at least six times within his first year as editor, but he was always rehired because, as he put it, "there was no one else around the place with ideas."
In 1932, Wiese changed the format to what he called Three Magazines in One. Three sections—News and Fiction, Homemaking, Style and Beauty—had their own cover, and each contained ads tailored to its contents. A survey was conducted that showed fiction was a major attraction for female magazine readers, and in 1937 McCall's became the first women's magazine to print a complete novel in one issue.

Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor, known to Hawaiians as Puuloa, is a lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is a United States Navy deep-water naval base. It is also the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet...

 was attacked on December 7, 1941, and Otis Wiese immediately revamped the February 1942 issue then in preparation. A frilly valentine cover was replaced with a woman wearing an "I've Enlisted" consumer pledge button. Readers were asked to sign a pledge that stated "As a consumer, in the total defense of democracy, I will do my part to make my country ready, efficient and strong. I will buy carefully. I will take good care of the things I have. I will waste nothing." Within three weeks, 150,000 readers signed the pledge and sent in a coupon printed in the magazine. During World War II, all women's magazines took on a patriotic slant, but McCall's received much positive press coverage for being the first magazine to do so McCall's began a "Washington Newsletter" section, which provided information on rationing and conservation.

During the post-war era, fiction was no longer such an important draw for readers; they wanted more articles and picture spreads. To provide lively nonfiction Wiese hired two former Look magazine editors. Daniel Danforth Mich became editorial director, and Henry Ehrlich was named managing editor.

McCall's Three Magazines in One format was discontinued in 1950. In 1954 Wiese began to reformat McCall's with a "Togetherness" slogan; it was announced that the magazine would no longer be just for women, but aimed at the entire family. During this time period paid circulation was 4.5 million per issue.

In 1953, financier Norton Simon
Norton Simon
Norton Winfred Simon , in the United States was a millionaire industrialist and philanthropist based in California. A significant art collector, he is the namesake of the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California.-Early life:...

 began purchasing shares of McCall Corporation, and in 1956, Simon's group of investors was in control of the corporation.

In 1958, Simon named Arthur B. Langlie
Arthur B. Langlie
Arthur Bernard Langlie served as the mayor of Seattle, Washington, from 1938 to 1941 and was the 12th and 14th Governor of the U.S. state of Washington from 1941 to 1945 and from 1949 to 1957.-Background:...

 as president of the company. Otis Wiese, who had been vice president, as well as editor and publisher of McCall's, had expected to be named president. When Langlie was named to the position, Wiese and a number of staffers resigned in protest. A Business Week article stated "The house of togetherness had come apart at the seams." Simon replaced Wiese with Herbert Mayes, who had been editor of Good Housekeeping.

Mayes did away with the "Togetherness" slant, and came up with a new slogan, "First Magazine For Women." He introduced additional color pages, and used more fiction. In 1962 Mayes became president and CEO of McCall Corporation.

From 1962 to 1965, John Mack Carter was editor of McCall's. Under his leadership, circulation rose to 8.4 million. In 1965, Carter left to become editor of Ladies' Home Journal. A rapid succession of editors followed Carter, including Robert Stein and James Fixx.

In 1969, Life magazine columnist Shana Alexander
Shana Alexander
Shana Alexander was an American journalist, born Shana Ager in New York City on October 6, 1925. Although she became the first woman staff writer and columnist for Life magazine, she was best known for her participation in the "Point-Counterpoint" debate segments of 60 Minutes with conservative...

 was named editor. Alexander had no editing experience, and at the time of her appointment stated "I have to educate myself about women's magazines, but I think I know something about women." Alexander left in 1971.

Robert Stein was editor from 1972 to 1986. During Stein's tenure, McCalls gained the slogan / subtitle "The Magazine for Suburban Women." After Stein left, the quick turnover of editors returned.

Change in Ownership

Ownership of McCall's began to change nearly as fast as editors came and went. Norton Simon sold McCall's to private owners in 1973. In 1986, McCall's Publishing Company was bought by Time Inc.
Time Inc.
Time Inc. is a subsidiary of the media conglomerate Time Warner, the company formed by the 1990 merger of the original Time Inc. and Warner Communications. It publishes 130 magazines, most notably its namesake, Time...

 and Lang Communications. In 1989, McCall's was sold to The New York Times Company
The New York Times Company
The New York Times Company is an American media company best known as the publisher of its namesake, The New York Times. Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. has served as Chairman of the Board since 1997. It is headquartered in Midtown Manhattan, New York City....

, and in 1994, German-based Gruner + Jahr
Gruner + Jahr
Gruner + Jahr GmbH & Co. KG is the largest European printing and publishing firm. Its headquarters is in Hamburg, Germany.-History:Originally founded on August 1, 1948 as the Henri Nannen publishing house, Gruner + Jahr was created in 1965 from a merger by acquisition, by publishers John Jahr Sr....

 announced plans to purchase their magazine business.

Change to Rosie

In 2000, entertainer Rosie O'Donnell became editorial director of McCall's. In 2001 McCall's was renamed Rosie. O'Donnell stated, "I wanted a magazine that celebrates real women, that understands that they care about more than waistlines or the latest makeup styles or fashions, that they want to be relevant and help each other and care about the world." Rosie ceased publication at the end of 2002. O'Donnell said in a statement "I decided I could not participate in a magazine that bears my name when I could not be assured it would reflect my vision, values and editorial direction." A highly publicized legal battle between O'Donnell and her publisher, Gruner + Jahr
Gruner + Jahr
Gruner + Jahr GmbH & Co. KG is the largest European printing and publishing firm. Its headquarters is in Hamburg, Germany.-History:Originally founded on August 1, 1948 as the Henri Nannen publishing house, Gruner + Jahr was created in 1965 from a merger by acquisition, by publishers John Jahr Sr....

, began in 2003. Ultimately, the judge ruled against both sides and dismissed the case. Gruner + Jahr exited the U.S. magazine business in 2005, selling its women's magazine portfolio to the Meredith Corporation
Meredith Corporation
The Meredith Corporation is a media conglomerate based in Des Moines, Iowa, USA. The company has two divisions, National Media and Local Media.-History:...

and its business magazine portfolio to Mansueto Ventures.

External links

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