Back Issues - January 1966

By Jon Slattery

Cassandra is knighted

The Daily Mirror’s famous columnist Cassandra
(William Connor) was knighted in the New Year’s Honours. Connor joined
the Mirror in August 1935 and, Press Gazette said, had “created the
most consistently brilliant column in modern journalism”. He began his
first column after the Second World War with: “As I was saying when I
was interrupted, it is a hard thing to please all the people all the
time.” One person he did not please was flamboyant US entertainer
Liberace. He sued after being described by Cassandra as “this deadly,
winking, sniggering, snuggling, chromium-plated, scent-impregnated,
luminous, quivering, giggling, fruit-flavoured, mincing, ice-covered
heap of mother love”. Liberace won substantial damages and said: “I
cried all the way to the bank.”

Up for the Cup

Forty years ago
Britain was getting ready to host the World Cup. Press Gazette reported
that 1,331 soccer journalists from 54 nations had sought accreditation.
Seating was expected to be available for 400 journalists at each
eighth-final, 500 at the quarters, 700 at the semis and 1,000 for the
final.

Up for some fun

John Gordon, former Sunday Express editor,
was claiming that Fleet Street “wasn’t half the fun it used to be” in a
speech during a lunch in his honour at the Press Club. Reminiscing
about the old times, he told the story of a reporter who was sent to
cover a fancy dress party in Paris, wearing only a tiger skin. Gordon
recalled: “At five in the morning he went back to his room at the Ritz,
and as he was going upstairs a lady looked at him, horrified, and said
‘My god’. He said ‘Yes my dear – but strictly incognito’.”

‘Regional newspapers could close’

Now
it is the BBC’s local television plans that are worrying the Newspaper
Society. Back in 1966 it was commercial radio that was concerning the
NS. Society director William Ridd warned that if commercial local radio
was allowed, some regional newspapers could be forced into closure. The
government was preparing a white paper on commercial radio. The
minister responsible was Postmaster-General Anthony Wedgewood Benn, now
plain Tony Benn.

Echo editor is (another) Evans In the regions,
Don Evans had been appointed editor of the Northern Echo, succeeding
Harold Evans, who had joined The Sunday Times as assistant to the
editor. Evans went on to edit both The Sunday Times and The Times. In
another move, Bill Heeps had been made editor of Thomson’s Evening
Gazette, Middlesbrough, at 35. He went to become managing director of
Thomson Regional Newspapers.

‘These wool underpants will help you survive’

An
oddity of Press Gazette 40 years ago was its regular adverts making
extravagant claims for products from the wool industry. Under the
headline “These Wool Underpants Will Help You Survive” one
advertisement claimed that “almost every aircrew member of Denmark’s
Air Force was dropped into the sea from aircraft and ships. Those
wearing wool underwear recovered faster than their colleagues”.

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