A confession: As kids we used to sneak a quick read of our mothers' copies of McCall's Magazine.
We weren't looking at the popular housekeeping-themed magazine for centerpiece ideas or sewing tips. Our focus was on the "Movie Guide for Puzzled Parents," a column intended to alert America's moms as to what releases had violence, nudity, swearing and gore. As kids, it unwittingly advised us which movies were worth sneaking into.
That might not be a great example of why this particular magazine was so iconic in its day. But it does illustrate something important: All of our moms either subscribed to the magazine or snatched up copies from supermarket checkout lines. Started in 1870 as a promotional tool to advertise sewing patterns, by the 1960s, owing to the growth of middle class suburbia, it had nearly 8.5 million readers.Over the years, the magazine remained popular despite multiple owners, among them Time (TWX - Get Report) and The New York Times Co. (NYT - Get Report). Then along came Rosie O'Donnell. The success of the former VH1 VJ as a daytime talk show host gave the comedienne Oprah-like aspirations to cross over into the world of publishing. In 2000 she was taken on as editorial director at McCall's and the following year it was renamed Rosie, featuring herself on all subsequent covers. The change was ultimately a failure, and the magazine ceased publication and triggered a series of lengthy legal battles.