September 13, 2017
One in a series of enthusiastic posts, contributed by HILOBROW friends and regulars during 2017, on the subject of our favorite squads.
If they were around today, the Daly sisters (Maggie, Maureen, Kay, and Sheila John) would share the helm of a multibillion dollar media empire. Individually, they churned out novels, teen advice guides, advertising copy, and reams of newspaper columns at the mid-twentieth century. Now little known, Life magazine in 1949 rated them “one of the most successful sister acts in current U.S. business life.”
Maureen got the ball rolling in 1938, when her short story “Sixteen” won an O. Henry Award. She followed it up with a first novel, Seventeenth Summer (1942), that has never been out of print and has been credited as starting the Young Adult genre. (Jealous authors take note: Daly’s second novel came out 44 years after the first.) She proved equally successful as a teen advice maven; her syndicated column, “On the Solid Side,” appeared thrice weekly in dozens of papers.
Active in the fashion industry, eldest sister Maggie penned Kate Brennan, Model (1956). The book ended with Kate’s engagement to a handsome doctor, who, it is suggested, may be open to a working wife — heady stuff for a mid-1950s novel for teenage girls. Her boldface gossip column ran in one or another Chicago newspaper from the early 1960s until 1981. (“Dr. Henry Kissinger is going to do the Dean Martin ‘roast’ of Bob Hope on NBC,” reads an item from October 1974.)
Kay rose through the advertising ranks from copywriter (she worked on Maidenform’s famous “I Dreamed” ads) to creative director (the first woman executive at Revlon, she was responsible for its legendary “Fire and Ice” campaign).
At the age of 17, youngest sister Sheila John took over Maureen’s “Solid Side” gig when the latter moved to the Ladies Home Journal. “So you are going to start to smoke!” began a 1949 column. “Since most people feel that smoking is predominantly a masculine habit, do your best to smoke with as much grace and femininity as possible.” A half dozen books (Personality Plus! (1946) and Party Fun (1963), to name two) and columns (“Tops Among Teens,” “Ask Sheila”) followed.
At least one academic has called Seventeenth Summer a “nascent feminist novel,” but the sisters’ collective oeuvre has more in common with that of another slippery character, Helen Gurley Brown. Kay Daly’s quote in HGB’s Sex and the Office sums it up: “If there’s anything more fun than just being a girl, I’d say it’s being a successful-in-business girl.”
#SQUADGOALS: Annie Nocenti on THE WILD BUNCH | Alice Boone on PRETTY LITTLE LIARS | Gordon Dahlquist on BOWIE’S BAND | Rob Wringham on THE HOME GUARD | Jennifer Krasinski on WATERSHIP DOWN RABBITS | Annalee Newitz on ROBIN HOOD’S MERRY PALS | Adrienne Crew on THE BLOOMSBURY GROUP | Mark Kingwell on THE HONG KONG CAVALIERS | Adam McGovern on KAMANDI’S FAMILY | John Overholt on THE CLUB | Greg Rowland on THE VULTURE SQUADRON | Sara Ryan on BETSY, TACY & TIB | Chelsey Johnson on VI ÄR BÄST! | Brian Berger on THE JOHN FORD STOCK COMPANY | Sherri Wasserman on THE WARRIORS | Jessamyn West on FAREYNIKTE PARTIZANER ORGANIZATSYE | Josh Glenn on DADA | Matthew De Abaitua on THE TIME | Mandy Keifetz on THE FOUNDING FATHERS | William Nericcio on ZOOT SUIT PACHUCOS | Deb Chachra on FIREFLY CREW | Matthew Battles on THE ANIMAL FAMILY | Ingrid Schorr on THE HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS | Joe Alterio on THE USUAL GANG OF IDIOTS | Dan Reines on THE BREAKFAST CLUB | Rob Walker on LES TROIS INSÉPARABLES | Devin McKinney on 1975 RED SOX | Steph Burt on DAMAGE CONTROL | Elina Shatkin on THE HOLOGRAMS | Chris Spurgeon on THE ALKALI METALS | Carl Wilson on NEW YORK SCHOOL POETS | Barbara Bogaev on THE MOD SQUAD | Franklin Bruno on THE AACM | Judith Zissman on THE FUTURIANS | Mimi Zeiger on ARCHIGRAM | Jacob Mikanowski on THE RATBASTARDS | Lynn Peril on THE DALY SISTERS | Anindita Basu Sempere on MEG MURRY’S FAMILY | Libi Rose on THE ENIAC TEAM | Gary Panter on THE TRIBE OF HIPPIES | Peter Doyle on CORNEL WILDE BOYS | Ken Layne on THE MONKEY WRENCH GANG | Molly Wright Steenson on BAUHAUS | Katie Hennessey on BEAT POETS | Mimi Lipson on THE RUNAWAYS | Jordan Ellenberg on BOURBAKI | Michael Campochiaro on THE SUICIDE SQUAD | Deborah Wassertzug on THE BLOODHOUND GANG | Colin Dickey on ACÉPHALE | Douglas Wolk on SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY | David Smay on THE MYSTIC KNIGHTS OF THE OINGO BOINGO | Karinne Keithley Syers on BLACKLIPS PERFORMANCE CULT.
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