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Sat, 06.01.1957

Duke (Magazine) is Published

(first edition)

*On this date in 1957, Duke Magazine was first published.  Duke was a short-lived men's magazine formed by previous employees of the Johnson Publishing Company.

It is notable as an early attempt at an upscale adult periodical for African American audiences.  It was primarily a black and white publication, although the cover and centerfold were color printed. Like many of its contemporaries, the magazine was heavily inspired by the success of Playboy magazine, although it featured no outright nudity and remained very tame all around. Based in Chicago, both Playboy's hometown and a hub for Black intellectuals of that era.

The magazine's centerfold models were called Duchess of the Month. The first Duchess was Eleanor Crews, who had earlier appeared as the October girl in the 1957 pin-up calendar included with the New Year issue of Jet. The magazine's publisher and the main author was Benjamin Burns, who had previously worked on a men's magazine named Modern Man. He was well acquainted with the black press, having held high-ranking positions at the Chicago DefenderEbony, and its sister publication Jet.

The editor and face of the magazine was journalist and musician Dan Burley. However, it has been said that he was largely a figurehead hired to lend black credibility to the magazine. At the same time, Burns (who did not appear on the masthead) was the main man. The magazine lasted just six issues. It is unrelated to the later Duke published between 1967 and 1978 and primarily featured white models.

Reference:

JHI.edu

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