David Cassidy! Marc Bolan! Fifty years ago, quivering teens waited for their Jackie magazine to drop through the letterbox. Now perhaps those same girls are eager to see Jackie The Musical, which opens this month.
Here, former editor Nina Myskow relates some highlights from her years on the iconic magazine. From meeting David Essex (and somehow managing not to scream) to encouraging a young Emma Thompson and meeting David Bowie, she was the girl in the front row of a life that some 600,000 girls a week could only dream of.
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That’s how I used to start my Ed’s Letter each week when I was editor of Jackie magazine, back in the Seventies. Well, decades later, here we are once more. The musical is a wonderful chance to take a nostalgic journey back to those years of carefree fun, your first kiss (practise on the back of your hand, we advised), and loads of laughs. And to wonder how Cathy and Claire would advise you now…
My memories of the time are different from yours. I was a decade beyond my teenage years, but those years had been recent enough to remember what you were going through at the time – insecurity, spots, crushes and tears.
And as I stood in the wings watching David Cassidy in a skintight white jumpsuit, I knew why you were screaming (yes, he was very cute, and so was Donny Osmond). Ditto David Essex and those gorgeous blue eyes! Don’t you think for one second that I was immune…
Cathy and Claire
You, the readers, were the most important part of the magazine. You wrote in your hundreds to us each week, especially to the Cathy and Claire problem page. In turn, we supplied you with solace and fun, support and ideas.
We were big on posting things out to readers – advice leaflets to Cathy and Claire questions, fashion tips to others. But sometimes there were mix-ups. I remember once receiving a sad letter from a girl that said: “I wrote to you about my flat chest, and you sent me a knitting pattern for a little woolly hat. What should I do?”
One 12-year-old wrote in, enclosing a photo. It read: “I love the pin-ups, but my dad is better-looking than Mick Jagger. He does the Magic Roundabout on TV.” It was such a sweet letter, we printed the picture. A few years later I met her when I was a TV critic and she had her first starring role: Emma Thompson [her father, Eric, had been the narrator on the children’s show]. More recently when I interviewed her for Saga Magazine in Paris, I took as a gift a Jackie book. She literally screamed out loud, and I got no sense out of her until I arm-wrestled it from her.
David Bowie and friends
I knew I was lucky. I had a ringside seat and fun times. In 1973 I saw David Bowie on his Ziggy Stardust tour. It was the day before my birthday, and at midnight in the bar afterwards he bought me a bottle of champagne. He was the first man I’d ever seen wearing nail polish and I can’t believe I ticked him off: “I do think if a man is going to wear nail polish, David, it definitely should not be chipped!” Thank God he laughed.
Oh and the music: I stood in the wings watching the Beach Boys singing God Only Knows and went on tour with The Osmonds in France. Lucky me!
And I had my first visit to America in a private plane hired by a singer/songwriter I’d met not long after I’d started on the magazine. He was 20 and by chance he had just recorded a demo of a song he’d written called Nina. We got on like a house on fire.
When he recorded his first album he took me to lunch in a caff. He was rather down: “I can’t write with my lyricist any more,” he said. “The album is a flash in the pan. My career is over.”
“It’s just a phase,” I reassured him, but to no avail. Then came the immortal words, “Have you ever thought of writing lyrics?” I hooted with mirth. “Promise me! Try! Send them to me.”
Did I? Nope. Instead, some time later, what arrived on my desk was a demo of a beautiful song, co-written with his original lyricist. Just him and the piano, a classic. Accompanied by a note that said, “I didn’t write the words, but when I wrote the song I was thinking of you.”
It was Your Song. And yes – it was Elton John. So even though I didn’t take the opportunity that could have changed my life forever, I am eternally grateful to Jackie for giving me such wonderful memories.
And I hope that you too remember the girl you were and then measure the journey you have been on to become the person you are today. I’m proud to have been a part of it, in some small way.
Nina’s still working hard! Read her fascinating interview with Art Malik in the March issue of Saga Magazine. Subscribe to the print edition or download the digital edition today.
Find out more and book tickets for Jackie The Musical - jackiethemusical.com