HISTORY OF COSMOPOLITAN MAGAZINE
By Victoria Hearst
Today's Cosmopolitan Magazine has nothing in common, in look or content, with the original magazine that was created in the late 19th century by a company called Schlicht & Field of New York. Named The Cosmopolitan and first published in 1886, it was a wholesome family/women's magazine.
Mr. Paul Schlicht assured his readers that his magazine was a "first-class family magazine" and "There will be a department devoted exclusively to the concerns of women, with articles on fashions, on household decoration, on cooking, and the care and management of children, etc..."
My grandfather, William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951), founder of the Hearst Corporation publishing and media empire, bought The Cosmopolitan in 1905. He hired journalists and authors like Charles Edward Russell, O. Henry, Sinclair Lewis, George Bernard Shaw, and Upton Sinclair to contribute articles and stories to the magazine.
In the 1930s, Cosmopolitan's circulation was 1,700,000. It had an advertising income of 5 million dollars. In the 1940s, its emphasis was more on fiction. During World War II, its sales reached $2 million.
William Randolph Hearst died in 1951. The decade of the '50s was tough on magazines due to television and paperback books, among other things, causing Cosmopolitan's circulation to drop to just over 1 million by 1955.
By 1964, Cosmopolitan was in real trouble. As a child, I heard my father, Randolph Hearst, discussing the situation with Hearst executives. Should they discontinue publication or try to keep it alive? After all, it was "the Old Man's first magazine" ("Old Man" being a respectful reference to my grandfather), and, as such, they wanted to save it, if possible.
Helen Gurley Brown was a guru of the new women's feminist/sexual revolution of the 1960s. Her 1962 book, Sex and the Single Girl, was a bestseller and had catapulted her to fame. Her notoriety and ideas about sex and relationships caught the attention of the men at Hearst.
In 1965, 14 years after my grandfather's death, the Hearst Corporation hired Helen Gurley Brown as chief editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine. That is when a "first-class family magazine" turned into a sex rag with a "Love and Lust" section containing:
Drawings of men and women in sexual positions with how-to instructions on who touches what and why it feels good.
A "Sex Q & A" where women ask graphic sexual questions and get graphic sexual answers from female "experts" called "Sexologists."
Articles enthusiastically promoting sex with strangers, group sex, anal sex, married couples swinger parties, detailed narratives of sexual encounters, etc.
A "Sex Toy of the Month" feature with a photo of the sex toy, it's price, and the website where it can be bought.
Websites where all manner of pornographic material may be purchased.
Photographs of full rear male nudity.
Ads for contraceptives.
William Randolph Hearst was not a perfect man, but I am sure that he would NEVER have allowed Cosmopolitan to become the PORNOGRAPHIC magazine that it is today.