In the fall of 1925, Peter Arno’s illustrations began to pop up in the pages of The New Yorker magazine.
Arno’s early illustrations were surprisingly understated, given that he would go on to become one of the magazine’s best known cartoonists, contributing many memorable illustrations and cartoons–and 99 covers–to the magazine from 1925 until 1968, the year of his death.
Recently described by longtime New Yorker writer Roger Angell as “the magazine’s first genius,” in 1927 Arno would marry fellow New Yorker contributor Lois Long (“Tables for Two” and “On and Off the Avenue”).
In his memoir Here at The New Yorker, Brendan Gill wrote that editor Harold Ross frowned on office romances, but “it was perhaps inevitable that Arno and Miss Long should have fallen in love.”
To keep his party-loving contributors close to the workplace, Ross opened a staff speakeasy in the basement of a near-by property. Long later relayed this story to writer Harrison Kinney about Ross’s ill-fated experiment:
“(Ralph) Ingersoll came in one morning and found Arno and me stretched out on the sofa nude and Ross closed the place down…Arno and I may have been married to one another then; I can’t remember. Maybe we began drinking and forgot that we were married and had an apartment to go to.”
The marriage would last only three years (and produce a daughter…more on that in a later post), but they would collectively give more than eight decades of their lives to the magazine.
Examples of Arno’s early contributions:
And they rhapsodized about the new Madison Square Garden, which was nearing completion at Eighth Avenue between 49th and 50th streets:
“Profiles” featured the “Apostle of Perfection,” Dutch conductor Willem Mengelberg, famed for his performances of Mahler and Strauss. “The Current Press” noted the first-ever coverage of a professional football game by a New York newspaper (NY Times):
An excerpt from the lengthy Times article referenced by The New Yorker:
In “On and Off the Avenue,” Lois Long wrote about the wonders of children’s toys on display for the Christmas season:
It is worth noting that the “Schwartz” store to which she referred (known to most of us as FAO Schwartz) will be closing its current Fifth Avenue store at the end of 2016. The name will live on (sadly) in online retailing as a unit of Toy’s R Us.
And in her “Tables for Two” column, Long referred to the previous issue’s blockbuster article penned by the reluctant debutant, Ellie Mackay, which perhaps made Long’s nighttime forays a bit less novel:
The Dec. 5 issue also carried a response to Mackay’s article, written by a young Yale alumnus named William Adee. A couple of brief excerpts:
Later in his lengthy rebuttal, Adee offers this (exasperated) observation:
In “Motion Pictures,” Theodore Shane found little to recommend: Cecille B. DeMille’s The Road to Yesterday was “hokum,” The Masked Bride tame, and the new Tom Mix picture, The Best Bad Man, was in need of a plot.
Next Time: Yuletide Approaches…