Life

American magazine published 1883-2000

Life was an American magazine published weekly from 1883 to 1972, as an intermittent "special" until 1978, and as a monthly from 1978 until 2000. During its golden age from 1936 to 1972, Life was a wide-ranging weekly general interest magazine known for the quality of its photography. Life was independently published for its first 53 years until 1936 as a general-interest and light entertainment magazine, heavy on illustrations, jokes, and social commentary. It featured some of the greatest writers, editors, illustrators and cartoonists of its time: Charles Dana Gibson, Norman Rockwell and Jacob Hartman Jr. Gibson became the editor and owner of the magazine after John Ames Mitchell died in 1918. During its later years, the magazine offered brief capsule reviews (similar to those in The New Yorker) of plays and movies currently running in New York City, but with the innovative touch of a colored typographic bullet resembling a traffic light, appended to each review: green for a positive review, red for a negative one, and amber for mixed notices. In 1936, Time publisher Henry Luce bought Life. Life was the first all-photographic American news magazine, and it dominated the market for several decades. The magazine sold more than 13.5 million copies a week at one point. Possibly the best-known photograph published in the magazine was Alfred Eisenstaedt's photograph of a nurse in a sailor's arms, taken on August 14, 1945, as they celebrated Victory over Japan Day in New York City. The magazine's role in the history of photojournalism is considered its most important contribution to publishing. Life's profile was such that the memoirs of President Harry S. Truman, Sir Winston Churchill and General Douglas MacArthur were all serialized in its pages. After 2000, Time Inc. continued to use the Life brand for special and commemorative issues. Life returned to regularly scheduled issues when it became a weekly newspaper supplement from 2004 to 2007. The website life.com, originally one of the channels on Time Inc.'s Pathfinder service, was for a time in the late 2000s managed as a joint venture with Getty Images under the name See Your World, LLC. On January 30, 2012, the LIFE.com URL became a photo channel on Time.com.
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