September 21, 2010
On September 19, a capacity audience of students, faculty, staff and members of the Winter Park community filled the Tiedtke Concert Hall to bear witness to “The Only Animated Magazine Published in the United States.” In celebration of Rollins’ 125 Anniversary and the inspiration of Rollins’ 8th President, Hamilton Holt, The Winter Park Institute kicked off this year’s season with an event meshing the traditions of the past and present, entitled The New Animated Magazine.
In 1926, Rollins College President Hamilton Holt sought to make the College more widely known to the general public. As a former editor of such widely syndicated publications as The Independent Harpers Weekly, Holt was eager to apply his talents to fill the cultural vacuum in Central Florida at that time.
“Hamilton Holt had many talents, but none rivaled his talent as a promoter,” explained Jack Lane, Rollins College Historian and Professor Emeritus of History, who presented the introduction to The New Animated Magazine.
In alignment with the progressive educational reforms he had established at Rollins, Holt created a “living” magazine, the first of its kind. In February of 1927, Holt invited the greatest living experts from a variety of fields to speak to the Rollins community and visitors of Winter Park. The inaugural event was held outdoors and entitled, “The Animated Magazine.” By 1930, more than 4,000 people were attending this major cultural event. By 1949, the year of Holt’s retirement, attendance had reached over 10,000.
The magazine was never physically published. Both the “New” and original Animated Magazines were exercises in a participatory metaphor that happened in real time and, therefore, could not be reread. Like live theatrical performance, the “publication” only existed in the moment. Audience members were known as “subscribers,” speakers as “contributors,” and the moderator as “editor.” Distinguished Scholar in Residence and Senior Fellow of the Winter Park Institute Billy Collins served as editor of this year’s event, describing it as “voluntary role-playing.”
“When I first heard of the Animated Magazine, I envisioned a stack of magazines coming to life,” Collins remarked to chuckles from the audience. “However, this magazine is more than what you find in your mailbox. It is comprised of flesh and blood and will only happen once. Either you were here, or you missed it.” A handful of audience members who had attended original “editions” of the magazine were present and were acknowledged as repeat subscribers.
“Hamilton Holt always had a blue editor’s pencil,” explained former Rollins President and Honorary Publisher Thaddeus Seymour. “During the magazine, if people talked too long, Holt would stand up and pantomime a big “X” using his blue pencil.”
Rollins President Lewis Duncan served as publisher of The New Animated Magazine and presented the “preface.” “Celebrating our continuing legacy of commitment to excellence, innovation and responsible leadership in the 21st century, The New Animated Magazine strives to promote opportunities of creative convergence in order to enrich the lives of the Rollins Community,” said Duncan.
Contributors to the original Animated Magazine consisted of “internationally renowned luminaries,” including such recognizable names from all areas of popular culture as J. Edgar Hoover, James Cagney, Walter Cronkite, Edward R. Murrow, Arnold Palmer, and Gordon W. Blackwell. “These people were celebrities with a lot of glitter,” Collins said. “It would be like today inviting the entire contents of People Magazine down here.”
The New Animated Magazine’s contributors were selected in an attempt to meet the same criteria as in the past.
Contributor and journalist Erik Calonius presented a psychology and advice column, which offered subscribers a list of the common traits that all successful visionaries share.
Contributor Scott Joseph, publisher of “Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide,” presented the food column, providing subscribers with a “Diner’s Bill of Rights.”
Executive Director of the Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community N.Y. Nathiri outlined the long historical relationship between the residents of Eatonville (FL), the nation’s oldest incorporated African-American municipality, and Rollins. She invited subscribers to take part in the upcoming 22nd Annual ZORA! Festival, January 22 through 30, in celebration of the life and work of Zora Neale Hurston.
Davey Johnson, former MLB player and manager and Winter Park resident of 67 years, presented the sports column entitled, “Winning and Chemistry.”
Historian, biographer, editor, and Thomas P. Johnson Distinguished Visiting Scholar James L. W. West III presented his research on the life of author William Styron.
Covering the arts & entertainment beat was author and drama critic for the Wall Street Journal, Terry Teachout, who presented on the life of Duke Ellington, incorporating photos and live performances by Davy Jones and the New Century Jazz Heritage Ensemble, which also kicked off the event with a live, half hour, performance.
Perhaps the most anticipated speaker of the event, Senator Mel Martinez, was not yet in attendance when it came time for his presentation. However, Martinez soon arrived and jokingly apologized for his absence by explaining that, “we have something called 'Cuban-Time.'” Martinez spoke on becoming an American and shared stories and photos of his childhood. For the most part, he managed to avoid commenting on hot-button political issues. Senator Martinez concluded his contribution by explaining how, coming of age in Orlando, his relationship with sports was the key to embracing American culture. “Differences were brushed away and I was able to break into the American culture and succeed,” explained Martinez. “Sports immediately opened all of the American doors for me. They allowed me to feel like I belonged.”
The event was concluded with an epilogue by Collins who also read “A Handful of Poems.” Both participants and audience agree that the revival of The New Animated Magazine was a great success. “This was a more modest recreation of the magazine out of respect for how integral it was to the history of Rollins and its development,” Collins said.
Executive Director of the Winter Park Institute Gail Sinclair was very pleased with the outcome of this special event. “We believed that the Rollins community would embrace the resurrection of this fascinating part of our history,” she said. “It was the perfect event to kick off the Institute’s third season, while also paying homage to the College’s 125th celebration.”
For more information on the Winter Park Institute and its season of cultural events, please visit www.rollins.edu/wpi/.
Justin Braun (MBA Class of 2011)