Tuesday, October 18, 2005
It’s What’s Up Front That Counts
[[M E D I A]] * So what’s the best U.S. magazine cover produced over the last 40 years? Well, according to the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME), it’s the January 22, 1981, front from Rolling Stone, which showed a naked John Lennon wrapped lovingly around his wife, Yoko Ono. Photographed by the much-celebrated Annie Leibovitz, that cover was shot on December 8, 1980, mere hours before the former Beatles singer was shot to death outside his New York City apartment building by deranged fan Mark David Chapman.
Editors, artists, and page designers from some 50 of the nation’s foremost magazines were asked by the ASME to select their favorite 40 covers produced since 1965, as part of the 40th anniversary celebration of the National Magazine Awards. The winners were announced during a magazine conference in Puerto Rico on Monday.
While the Lennon cover received “far and away” the most votes in this competition, explains ASME spokesman Howard Polskin, second-place honors go to the August 1991 Vanity Fair, which featured a very pregnant actress Demi Moore up front (also photographed by Leibovitz). The third favorite cover was that of the April 1968 Esquire, which showed a bare-chested and arrow-punctured Muhammad Ali, who a year before had refused to serve in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War (saying that he “got nothing against no Viet Cong”), and had been stripped of his boxing championship belt as a consequence. Rounding out the top five winners: the now famous March 26, 1976, New Yorker cover that shows the Big Apple from the Hudson River, with the rest of the country crowded in behind; and the May 1969 issue of Esquire, which fronted with an image of artist Andy Warhol drowning in a Campbell’s soup can.
For a complete list of winning covers, click here. READ MORE: “Judging a Magazine By Its Cover,” by Katharine Q. Seelye (The New York Times); “Naked Lennon Tops Magazine Poll” (BBC News).