Monday, March 2, 2009

Whisper, May 1950 / A Hanging in Misery

I'm not quite sure what I expected when I picked this out to scan, but this magazine seems to be more similar to a men's adventure magazine or something like The National Police Gazette than the cheesecake or gossip/scandal content the name and covers imply. I got this issue cheap to check it out, and it's really not the greatest Driben cover I've ever seen. I kind of like the peephole motif though this title uses, and I recall it being used sometimes on covers to girlie pulps. I’m starting something new today, below images of some of these pictures are links to a larger scrollable image for easier reading. I, of course, recommend downloading the full scan for perusal, but for those that are just surfing casually this is a way they can sample the fare a bit more closely.

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full size cover

I guess I thought it would be a gossip mag because it was published by Robert Harrison, the same publisher of the notorious Confidential which is remembered for dishing vicious Hollywood gossip with a circulation of a whopping 5 million readers before a libel suit ended a particular brand of gossip. Here’s a wiki on Harrison and his magazines:

Apparently, Whisper differs from the cheesecake of his other girlie mags he specialized in before Confidential in that it featured exploitative stories. I’ll point out this page that has some links to covers of some of his other mags like Beauty Parade, Wink, Titter, etc. The cover images are small but you can check out other issues of Whisper with the keyhole motif.

The Contents:

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This issue leads with the urgent question

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I like this spot illustration for “Legion of Violent Lovers”

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or this graphic for an article featuring goldfish eating and hotrods

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I found this spread particularly disturbing of a hanging, but it most definitely fits in with a sort of morbid voyeurism common in a whole spectrum of men’s magazines of the era.

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I had recently come across something about the last public execution in America which prompted me to do a little digging about this Roscoe Jackson. Being a freestater, I’m not surprised this happened in Galena, Missouri (between Branson and Springfield near the Arkansas border) in 1937 (just kidding showmestaters heh heh), but here’s a little more information on the hanging that tells of Roscoe’s life and crime, how his father came to see the hanging and slept with his head on the curb as revellers imbibed and partied awaiting the mornings execution:

and a couple other little pages from the White River Historical Quarterly that fill out the picture a bit more:

Murderer or no, I like his purported last words, “I am going to die like a man. Goodbye, folks. Be good to each other.”

What prompted me to look into Roscoe’s hanging was that I’d come across a different case even more fascinating from just a little earlier that also lays claim to being the last public execution in the U.S. But this hanging was even more of a circus, as the Sheriff who was to have acted as hangman was a woman, adding a whole nother level of sensationalism. This time the setting was Owensboro, Kentucky, and there’s a nice NPR page with audio and a picture gallery on the happening there, the occasion reflected upon in contemplation of the upcoming Timothy McVeigh execution which was broadcast over closed circuit TV as a sort of public execution:

puzzled by the earlier date on this one, I stumbled across a book on the subject which is entirely posted on the web here:

I found the part of the expert hangman they brought in to assist the female sheriff quite interesting, but I suppose you want your hangman to be the best. The explaination for the earlier date is explained here and seems to hinge on the fact that the MO hanging was within the bounds of some temporary blockade and not truly public:

Anyways…you never know what you’ll find in these old magazines and where the random article might lead, and this one caused some contemplation on public execution, sick and voyeuristic, but perhaps more honest than secreting the dirty deed away somewhere? Hmm…

But I hate to leave on that note, so how about a little cheesecake to coat the palette, eh? The centerfold:

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scrollable centerfold

And finally the full size scan can be got here:

Whisper v03n07 (1950-05.Whisper) (Downlow-DREGS)



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