Today is “Grab Bag” day here at Entertainment Legends Revealed, where each week we feature a different area of the world of arts and entertainment (that is not featured on the other four days of the week, that is). Each week you will see grab bag legends from one of these following 25 “Grab Bag” categories (I might expand the list in the future, but for now, we’re sticking with these 25).
This is the second in a series of examinations of legends related to magazines and whether they are true or false.
MAGAZINE LEGEND: A series of photos of the Normandy landing during D-Day by famed war photographer Robert Capa for Life Magazine were blurry because Capa’s hands were shaking as he took the shots.
Robert Capa (born Endre Friedmann in Austria-Hungary in 1913 – gee, I wonder why he changed his name) was a famous war photographer, active from 1913 until his death in 1954, while photographing the conflict in Indochina (he tragically stepped on a landmine).
Capa was particularly well-known for how close to the action he got. He had a saying that, effectively, if your photos weren’t good enough it was because you weren’t close enough.
Capa was with the invading troops on Normany, and he took close to four full rolls of film of the invasion.
Sadly, when back in Life Magazine’s office in London, a young staffer made a terrible error – he set the dryer too high and melted the emulsion in the negatives in three complete rolls and over half of a fourth roll. So out of all the film Capa sent back, only ELEVEN photos were saved from being utterly ruined!
Capa took the hit in stride, but he was not prepared for what came next.
You see, the remaining photographs, while salvageable, were not in great shape either. The same effect that ruined all of the other photos resulted in the rescued photos appearing quite blurry.
Here are two of the photos…
When Life ran the photos shortly after D-Day in the magazine, they tried to explain away the blurriness of the photos by saying that they were “slightly out of focus” because Capa’s hands were shaking so much from the adrenaline of the battlefield.
This Capa did not take as calmly, and years later, he would poke fun at Life Magazine by naming his auto-biography “Slightly Out of Focus.”
Since Capa had never had the problem before, and since we know that Life did screw up the photographs, I’m willing to believe Capa’s side of the story and say that this claim is a false one.
MAGAZINE LEGEND: A British magazine introduced into the modern lexicon not only the actual word “magazine,” but also the word “Columbia” to describe America and the slogan “E pluribus unum.”
STATUS: I’m Going With True
Before The Gentleman’s Magazine debuted in London in 1731 by Edward Cave, there had never been a successful journal consisting of articles on all sorts of different topics.
But that’s exactly what The Gentleman’s Magazine achieved, and in doing so, Cave actually ended up coining the very TERM “magazine” to describe a journal with different articles on various topics. Magazine meant a storeroom, so this journal was the “gentleman’s storeroom…of knowledge.”
Famed writer Samuel Johnson first came to prominence working for Cave on The Gentleman’s Magazine, and it was in an article in 1736 that Johnson coined the term “Columbia” as a poetic name for America. The name, as you know by now, surely stuck, as the District of Columbia can attest.
Here is a snapshot of the first page of the magazine from 1759…
The last addition that the Gentleman’s Magazine made to the American lexicon is the slogan “E plurubis unum” from the Latin meaning “From many, one.”
It appears on the Seal of the United States (designed in 1776)…
It is almost certainly inspired by the motto that The Gentleman’s Magazine used in their annual anthology of their best articles from the year, with that motto on the cover…
As that was the only prominent usage of the term at the time, it is almost certainly what the learned founders of the United States used as the influence (the actual phrase comes from an ancient Latin poem, Moretum, author unknown).
Not a bad legacy for a magazine that went out of business almost 100 years ago, huh?
MAGAZINE LEGEND: Men’s Fitness gave Andy Roddick someone else’s biceps for the cover of the magazine.
Tennis player Andy Roddick is a very fit man.
Just check him out playing tennis without a shirt on…
The guy has no complaints in the body department.
However, when he was featured as the cover model for a 2007 issue of Men’s Fitness, the folks at Men’s Fitness thought that they could make some improvements, thereby giving us this somewhat Frankenstein’s Monster-esque cover…
Roddick took the alteration with pretty good humor, writing on his blog:
I spent the last few weeks in Austin really focused on my training and getting back into shape…but pretty sure I’m not as fit as the Men’s Fitness cover suggests…little did I know I have 22 inch guns and a disappearing birth mark on my right arm. I saw the cover for the first time when I landed after Rome…it was pretty funny…I walked by the newsstand in the airport and did a total double take …I can barely figure out how to work the red-eye tool on my digital camera…whoever did this has mad skills…maybe Rafael Nadal wants his arms back?…if you can manage to stop laughing at the cover long enough, check out the article inside, the photo shoot on the boat was pretty cool..and I recognize the person in those photos…
Men’s Fitness officially blew off the complaints, saying that the changes weren’t a big deal, but at least one design consultant quit the magazine in protest of the photoshopping BEFORE the controversy even hit, so you know at least one person there disagreed with the company line.
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is email@example.com