The Marisa Mell Blog is a non-commercial educational blog! If you own copyright protected material and do not wish it to appear on this site it will be promptly removed after contacting us.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

McCall's Magazine

In 1968 Marisa Mell’s career was getting more and more noticed in the public eye on an international level outside of Europe which resulted in a lot of offers. One of these offers was to star in a leading role in an American musical version of the life of the famous WWI-spy “Mata Hari”. The musical was based on a book by Jerome Coopersmith and music by Edward Thomas with lyrics by Martin Charnin. The musical was to open on Broadway in New York after an initial run off-broadway. The name “Marisa Mell” was not yet a household name in America, so the producers found it a good idea that she would appear in a magazine with a high print run that was read by a lot of American women, especially housewifes. The choice of the producers fell on a magazine called “McCall’s Magazine”. McCall's was a monthly women's magazine that enjoyed great popularity through much of the 20th century, peaking at a readership of six million in 1960. The origin of the magazine goes back to 1880. Sadly the magazine disappeared at the beginning of this 21st century due to mergers between publishing companies after some legal battles over it's ownership. But in 1968 the magazine was in good health. What makes this photo shoot so special is that Marisa Mell got the cover of the magazine which is rather exceptional because most of the time the cover model was a well known American women like an actress, model… and she was not but what was even more exceptional was the fact that the photo shoot was a production of 'the' art director of that moment (that moment in time would later become known as the Golden Age of magazine design) the late great Otto Storch. Otto Storch (°Brooklyn-New York, February 15th 1913) was a magazine art director and advertising photographer who introduced an expressive typographic style to women's magazines as part of a revolution in editorial design. He was one of a handful of graphic designers who helped transform and modernize the visual content of American magazines. He belonged to what the graphic design historian Philip Meggs calls the "New York School", a group of editorial and advertising designers who based layouts on unified visual ideas rather than merely embellishing the page with ornamentation. Typical of this approach was a 1961 layout in McCall's for ''The Forty-Winks Reducing Plan,'' in which a picture of a sleeping woman lying on top of the text distorts the text to simulate a sagging mattress. Mr. Storch used a variety of photographic processes to make type twist, turn and vibrate in the days before computers made such special effects commonplace in magazine layout. He also helped revive late 19th-century Victorian wood typefaces, which had been passe for decades, to add graphic impact and contrast to the printed page. Although he later rejected this approach because it had become a cliche, the style is in use to this day. After leaving McCall's in 1969 he opened his own photography studio where he worked on assignments for many commercial clients, including American Express, Celanese, Golden Books, Sunbeam and Volkswagen. Otto Storch died at the age of 86 years on September 29th 1999. The article introduces the American audience to a new European star and what her part will be in the new musical "Mata Hari" on Broadway. Looking back, the article had not much impact on Marisa Mell's career and the musical never got to open on Broadway but that's an entire other story. Finding a mint copy of the McCall's-issue is not an easy task because almost all the issues got a adress label of the subscribers on the left hand side at the bottom of the cover page. Some magazine's have their label removed but they are not mint anymore due to the damage from removing the label or the old glue from the label.

No comments: