item 56 - Sally Kirkland and Nancy White discuss the life of Vera Maxwell, circa 1978

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US NNFIT SC.FITA.3.20.4.9.1.56

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Sally Kirkland and Nancy White discuss the life of Vera Maxwell, circa 1978

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  • probably 1978 (Creation)

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Original media: Reel to reel

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(1941-)

Biographical history

American actress.

Name of creator

(1916-2002)

Biographical history

"...Nancy White was born in Brooklyn on July 25, 1916. Her father was in publishing and became general manager of Hearst magazines. She attended the Madeira School in Greenway, Va., where she and Katharine Graham, who was to become publisher of The Washington Post, became lifelong friends. She left Madeira to work during the Depression, her daughter said. At 15, she worked as an errand girl with a magazine, according to an interview with her in The New York Mirror in 1957. (She did not name the magazine.) She returned to the boarding school, and after graduation became an editorial assistant, or ''glorified errand girl,'' in her words, with the magazine Pictorial Review. Her next job, which lasted 16 years, was with Good Housekeeping magazine, where she started as an assistant in the fashion department and left as fashion editor. She joined Harper's as an assistant editor in 1957 and was appointed editor at the beginning of 1958. She was chosen by the previous editor, Carmel Snow, who happened to be her aunt. Diana Vreeland had been another candidate for the top job; she promptly quit. In 1962, Mrs. Vreeland joined Vogue, becoming a legend in the fashion world, and not incidentally Miss White's principal competitor. Under Miss White, Harper's was aimed at stylish women in Des Moines and Omaha as well as in New York and San Francisco. In one issue, 14 pages by Hiro showed models' bodies seeming to disintegrate beneath colorful prints. Yet in the same issue, there was page after black-and-white page of elegantly understated suits and coats. Her comments on pantsuits in a 1964 interview in The New York Times reflected the balance she sought between modernity and moderation. Although she would not wear one to the office herself, she said, pantsuits would be all right for her staff members if they wore ''perfect accessories.'' Miss White resigned in 1971 after James W. Brady, formerly publisher of Women's Wear Daily, was appointed publisher and editorial director of Harper's. Mr. Brady said it was Hearst's decision for him to modernize the magazine....After her resignation, Miss White advised Bergdorf Goodman on fashion for two years and devoted much of the rest of her life to charities, including Lighthouse for the Blind and the public television station WNET. She was first married to Clarence Dauphinot, founder of Deltec International, then to Ralph D. Paine Jr., publisher of Fortune magazine, and then George K. Thompson, her high school sweetheart. The first two marriages ended in divorce, and Mr. Thompson died in 1996....Ms. White had two daughters, Ms. Paine of Durham, N.H., and Gillette Piper of Coral Gables, Fla.; a stepdaughter, Mimi Thompson of Manhattan; a sister, Carmel Eitt of King George, Va.; a brother, John Michael White of Delray Beach, Fla.; three grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren." https://www.nytimes.com/2002/05/29/nyregion/nancy-white-85-dies-edited-harper-s-bazaar-in-the-60-s.html

At Harper's Bazaar, Ms. White edited a book celebrating the magazine's 100th anniversary. It was entitled "100 Women of Accomplishment" and was published by Hearst Corporation in 1967. She was a member of the National Council of the Arts (1966-1972) and is a member of the board of directors of General Mills.

Ms. White was born to a fashion and editorial career. Her father, Thomas J. White, was a power in the Hearst publishing empire, which included Harper;s Bazaar; while her aunt, Carmel White Snow, was the creative and authoritative editor of Harper's Bazaar for many years.

Name of creator

(1901-1995)

Biographical history

Vera Maxwell was New York City in 1901. She trained as a ballet dancer and joined the Metropolitan Opera Ballet in 1919. In 1924, she married Raymond J. Maxwell and shortly after began her first foray into the fashion world as a model for a wholesale company, eventually starting to sketch, design and model her own clothes in 1929. By 1936 Vera's designs were receiving positive reviews in the fashion press and her freelance collections were receiving attention in New York. She was also designing for 7th Avenue firms such as Adler and Adler, Glenhunt and Max Milstein. Vera opened Vera Maxwell Originals in 1946 and became known for her classic separates and suits, dresses teamed with jackets, print dresses, Chesterfield coats and Wraparound jersey dresses. During the war years, she gained a reputation for her practical sense, which was evident in the one-piece overalls she designed for female factory workers. Her simple lapel-less suits were spare and gave no hint of having been stripped of their decorations, which demonstrated her skill at overcoming the fabric rations of the time. Other innovations Vera became known for were her desire to design for women of short height, or without a model's figure and for women whose jobs took them beyond their desks. In 1974, she designed a "speedsuit" made of jersey with an elasticized waist, which could be pulled on in just 17 seconds. Vera closed her business in 1985, eventually passing away in January 1995.

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Sally Kirkland and Nancy White discuss the life of Vera Maxwell.

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Legacy audio ID no: AOH189_01 and AOH189_02

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