Fight Night in Philly

We skip ahead to the Oct. 2, 1926 issue to look at one of the big events of that year–the Dempsey-Tunney heavyweight prize fight (I’m not skipping issues…Sept. 25 appears later in this blog).
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Oct. 2, 1926 – Issue # 85 – Cover by Constantin Alajalov. (Once again, note the ongoing comic reference to androgyny in 20’s fashion)
Heavyweight boxing was a big part of the American sports scene in the 1920s, and two giants of the sport, Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney, dominated the headlines in the late 1920s thanks to much-heralded bouts in Philadelphia in 1926 and a rematch in Chicago the following year (which would include the famous “long count” incident).
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An estimated 135,000 fans packed Sesquicentennial Stadium in Philadelphia for the Dempsey-Tunney bout. (Hutton/Getty/NYTimes)
The New Yorker joined in on the hoopla, publishing a lengthy account of the match by Waldo Frank (aka “Search-light”), who trained his jaded eye on the whole affair:
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VIEW FROM THE CHEAP SEATS…a rain-soaked throng at the Dempsey-Tunney fight in Philadelphia. (City of Philadelphia)
According to the New York Times, the crowd included such notables as Charlie Chaplin, cowboy movie star Tom Mix and the English Channel swimmer Gertrude Ederle.
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Coverage of Tunney’s victory by unanimous decision took up three-quarters of the front page of The New York Times, and also filled most of pages 2 through 7. (The New York Times)
But in typical fashion, Waldo was less than dazzled, finding the rain an apt metaphor for a spectacle mostly unseen by those in attendance:
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Never one to wallow in tragedy, the magazine made a brief (and oddly droll) reference in “The Talk of the Town” to a hurricane that hit Miami and its environs (it killed 372 people and injured more than 6,000):
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Other items of note in the issue included this examination of country vs. city life by cartoonist Barbara Shermund…
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…and this cartoon by Al Frueh commenting on the challenges of Manhattan’s rapidly changing cityscape:
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The changing city was also on the mind of Reginald Marsh in this illustration he contributed to the Sept. 25, 1926 issue of the magazine:
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The Sept. 25 issue also featured an update from Paris correspondent Janet Flanner…
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Sept. 25, 1926 – Issue # 84 – Cover by Constantin Alajalov.
…who commented on the large number of American tourists crowding the city just as the locals were fleeing for their long, late summer holidays:
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She offered some numbers to back up her observations:
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Janet “Genêt” Flanner (right) and longtime companion Solita Solano (center) in Paris in the 1920s. Solano was a well-known writer and drama critic for the New York Tribune.

And finally, a cartoon by Rea Irvin exploring the trials of the idle rich:

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 Next Time: Do Gentlemen Prefer Blondes?
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David O

I read and write about history from the perspective that history is not some artifact from the past but a living, breathing condition we inhabit every moment of our lives, or as William Faulkner once observed, "The past is never dead. It's not even past." I read original source materials, such as every issue of The New Yorker, not only as a way to understand a time from a particular perspective, but to also use the source as an aggregator of various historic events. I welcome comments, criticisms, corrections and insights as I stumble along through the century.

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