A Glamour Girl Hooked on Murder?

It all began when I sang parts of a grizzly ballad to my grandsons who are into gory stuff at almost 7 and 9. We wondered where the verses came from, and what the rest of the lyrics were.   I wasn’t even sure how to spell the name of the Wratten family, but the tune…

A Burning Question: Skin Color and Social Class in 1937 and 2017

“What interests you most in this Cosmopolitan world of today?” the magazine asked in September 1937.  The answer could be found in another question: Is a person’s social standing to be “gauged by his complexion”? Columnist, cartoonist, and frequent contributor to the New Yorker and several other magazines, Weare Holbrook (d.1985), tackles this subject– and…

“The Shape of Things to Come” — Winter 1939

In 1939 Jane Hall was hard at work as a screenwriter at MGM. Eight months later she would be on the cover of Cosmopolitan. I collected dozens of old Cosmos while working on Such Mad Fun. And though it does not contain any of Jane’s stories, the February 1939 issue of the magazine is fascinating. The…

Whatever Happened to Jane Hall’s Ocelot?

For much of my childhood and young adulthood I had an ocelot for a sibling. In fact, many of my friends remember that more than anything else about our family.  My mother, Jane Hall Cutler, was devoted to Menasha Skulnik — she named him after the famed Jewish American actor in spite of her Catholic…

A Such Mad Fun Author Interview

Robin has been skyping with book groups. Contact her through the website to arrange a date. Many Thanks to Annette Bochenek for permission to use this interview that appeared with a review on her terrific website Hometowns to Hollywood. This may answer some of the questions you have about Such Mad Fun. Annette: Jane Hall…

The Composite Cosmopolitan Girl in 1939

Her name was Isabel MacDougal of Greenwood, Mississippi, and, in July 1939, she became “The Cosmopolitan Girl.” Prolific author Faith Baldwin noted that she had been “selected by an impressive jury from among thousands of entrants,” in this “Autobiography of America — 1939.” Isabel appeared on the cover of the summer fiction issue of Cosmopolitan…

Debutante Distractions in 1933

In light of all the current crises affecting Americans, who would believe that during the fall and winter season the tradition of holding debutante balls still continues in major cities?  Yet look how many of us loved immersing in the pageantry of Downton Abbey. The practice of presenting marriageable daughters to eligible young men from…

An Artist or Writer or Both?

For decades Cooper Union had been directed by a Ladies Advisory Council, “whose members drove to the monthly meetings in early American Pierce-Arrows.”* In 1931, these prominent matrons decided to modernize the school. They found a new director, Austin Purves, Jr., who convinced the ladies of the value of coeducation – eventually 40% of the…