My beloved May 1952 Modern Screen (Photo by TMP)

I never considered myself a collector of anything until the day that I bought my first old magazine. Even my DVD collection was small at the time, since I mostly borrowed from the family pool and didn’t yet have the funds to start building up what has now become a mound of movies that I could probably build a solid fortress out of.

It was about two and a half years ago. I was browsing what is now my favorite antique store when I came across the May 1952 issue of Modern Screen, featuring Doris Day on the cover.

The booth was actually full of great movie magazines (and has provided me with many of my favorites over the past few years), but I latched onto the first one I saw and ran with it (in order to save my bank account from complete destruction, and because I knew I’d love to own one with Doris Day on the cover).

And with that first $6 spent, my collection began. I devoured that issue of Modern Screen as soon as I took it home, relishing in the opportunity to read about my favorite actors and actresses on magazine pages for the first time. (The glossies don’t give old Hollywood any love!)

Much like today’s gossip magazines, the information in these issues isn’t always accurate and I take it all with a grain of salt, especially if I’m reading about an actor I’m not too familiar with. But they’re still a whole lot of fun to flip through.

I was also completely won over by the interesting advertisements and the peek into the past that the magazine gave me. Though Modern Screen is a magazine focused on film specifically, its pages give insight into the general culture and lifestyles of the past. I’ve always been interested in history, and in the early to mid-20th century in particular, so this encounter with a popular periodical published during that time was a really cool experience for me. I was instantly hooked.

And on top of that, to think that those leaves of paper have passed through the hands of nearly six decades of film fans before me is pretty amazing. Someone probably sat on their porch on a spring day in 1952, reading that exact copy. (Yes, I am a nerd.)

My obsession with these gems continued to grow. I now own 84, 75 of which were published before 1980. My collection has expanded beyond just film magazines to include informational publications like National Geographic, pulpy mags like True Story, propaganda pamphlets, movie-related paperbacks and hardcovers and a few general lifestyle magazines.

The full list:

  • Photoplay – June 1913
  • Better Homes and Gardens – December 1927
  • True Romances – October 1929 (Dolores Costello and Grant Withers cover)
  • True Story – February 1939 (Betty Malamut cover)
  • True Story – November 1939 (Evelyne Taylor cover)
  • Photoplay – June 1944 (Olivia de Havilland cover)
  • True Romances – July 1944
  • Modern Screen – November 1945 (Jeanne Crain cover)
  • True Story – July 1946 (Sheila Ryan cover)
  • Pinnochio by Carlo Colloid, August 1946 hardcover print
  • Modern Screen – December 1949 (Jane Powell cover)
  • Popularity Plus – Pocket paperback of good manners for girls, April 1950
  • Modern Screen – May 1950 (June Allyson cover)
  • True Romance – September 1950
  • One Hundred Years of Famous Pages from The New York Times – 1951
  • Modern Screen – May 1952 (Doris Day cover)
  • Modern Romances – December 1953
  • Who’s Who in Hollywood – 1954 (June Allyson cover)
  • True Story – January 1954
  • Modern Screen – February 1954 (Susan Hayward cover)
  • National Geographic – February 1954
  • National Geographic – March 1954
  • National Geographic – April 1954
  • National Geographic – June 1954
  • National Geographic – July 1954
  • National Geographic – August 1954
  • National Geographic – September 1954
  • Modern Screen – November 1954 (Debbie Reynolds cover)
  • Photoplay – November 1954 (Debbie Reynolds cover)
  • Screen Album – Nov 1954 to Jan 1955 issue (Doris Day cover)
  • True Story – December 1954
  • Quick Dishes for the Woman in a Hurry – 1955
  • True Story – March 1955
  • True Story – June 1955
  • True Story – July 1955
  • Modern Romances – September 1955
  • True Story – September 1955
  • TV Radio Mirror – October 1955 (Tennessee Ernie Ford cover)
  • Confidential – November 1955 (Liz Taylor/Terry Moore/Mae West cover)
  • Who’s Who in Hollywood 1956
  • Modern Romances – February 1956
  • Modern Screen – April 1956 (Grace Kelly cover)
  • True Confessions – December 1956
  • Motion Picture – November 1957 (Deborah Kerr cover)
  • Movie World – July 1958
  • Modern Romances – December 1958
  • Pardon My Blooper by Kermit Schafer – 1959
  • Photoplay – January 1959 (Debbie Reynolds cover)
  • True Story – October 1959
  • Bertrand Russell speaks his mind – 1960 pocket paperback
  • True Confessions – March 1960
  • True Confessions – May 1960
  • True Romance – August 1960
  • True Story – March 1961
  • TV and Movie Reporter – January 1964 (Liz Taylor as Cleopatra cover)
  • Bogie: The Definitive Biography of Humphrey Bogart by Joe Hams – 1966
  • Whatever Became Of…? – 1967 pocket paperback
  • Modern Romances – February 1967
  • Rabbit, Run by John Updike – April 1969 Paperback print
  • Revealing Romances – September 1969
  • National Geographic – December 1969 (Moon Landing cover)
  • Love Story by Erich Segal – 1970 (FIRST EDITION! YAY!)
  • So You Think You Know Movies by Donald Kennedy – 1970
  • The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, February 1971 paperback print
  • The Twilight Zone – September 1975
  • The Tower of London Department of the Environment Official Guide (1977)
  • Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by Henry Edwards – 1978 POCKET EDITION
  • National Geographic – June 1978 (Dragons of the Deep cover)
  • National Geographic – February 1979 (Australia cover)
  • Reader’s Digest Guide to Household Emergencies (May 1985)
  • Location Patters of Minority and Other Health Professionals (August 1985)
  • Helping your pre-teen say “NO” (1986)
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse Workplace Drug Abuse Policy: Considerations and Experience in the Business Community (1989)
  • You Can Help Your Community Get Rid of Drugs pamphlet (1991)
  • A Traveler’s Guide to 116 Michigan Lighthouses (1992)
  • Locomotives Illustrated – September to October 1996
  • People Frank Sinatra Tribute (1998)
  • Francis Albert Sinatra: A Salute to the Chairman of the Board (1998)
Though my collection has expanded past movie mags, they’re still my favorite to read and collect – especially Modern Screen!

As mentioned in an earlier announcement, I’ll be sharing excerpts from these magazines every once in a while, because if you are interested in classic film at all (which I’m assuming you are, as a reader of TMP) you’re probably just as interested in those fascinating ads and articles as I am. I’ve already posted two excerpts on love from True Story (one on engaged love, one on married love). Stay tuned for more, and let me know if there are any specific magazine issues you’d like to see a post about. (More photos can be found on tumblr if you’d like to look at some of the specific headlines, but these posts were made quite a while ago and don’t show the complete collection!) Some of these publications will also be featured in TMP’s upcoming, self-explanatory series called “Could it be a movie?” which will also feature novels and short stories.