Richard Frisbie
Author, advertising and
publishing consultant, former editor of
Chicago and other magazines, former creative director of Campbell-Ewald and
other advertising agencies. For more information, click here. Or see
Who's Who in America or,

Margery Frisbie
Consulting editor, historian, poet and author of several books. For more information,  click here or see

The Uncommentator
BLOGS and GLOBS:  I have been writing a blog since 1966, only I didn't know  it. In those days, it came out in the form of a
newsletter on paper. Remember paper? It never got lost in
cyberspace, although if it got wet enough blog turned into glob. I called it
The Uncommentator, and tried to make it amusing.  To read some of my favorites, see

Recent Books by the Frisbies.

© 2013 by Richard Frisbie


The Uncommentator: Story of the Day

Secrets of a Fashion Arbiter

April, 2013--The PBS series, Mr. Selfridge, about the flamboyant founder of the famous London department store, reminds me of my own reign as a fashion arbiter. Hereís how it came about. When I was promoted from reporter to assistant feature editor at the Chicago Daily News in 1953 the job came with a variety of duties.

Mainly, I edited and laid out the feature pages for the next dayís paper, which occupied my morning and early afternoon. But after I had finished up in the composing room I still had time to take on writing assignments.

Because the music critic didnít like popular music, I sometimes reviewed popular records. Because the drama critic suffered acutely from summer allergies, I sometimes reviewed summer theater productions while he retreated to pollen-free Door County, Wisconsin.

Because my boss, the feature editor, recognized the growth of the do-it-yourself movement, I was asked to start a do-it-yourself column.

And, oh yes, I inherited the menís fashions column started by my predecessor, a natty dresser

My qualifications for writing these columns were thin.                                                

Music: I could play "Home in the Range" and "Jingle Bells" on almost any instrument except the flute.

Drama: I thought sympathetically of the actors and producers so it bothered me to have to say that Jeanette MacDonald, surrounded by a much younger cast, seemed a bit old at 50 or 51 to still be playing the ingenue in Blossom Time. Or that Bert Wheeler was miscast in Harvey, playing a role previously made memorable by James Stewart. Even so, I felt responsible to readers who should be told what to expect before blowing their entertainment budget on tickets.

When I reported one flaw in an otherwise excellent one-woman show by Cornelia Otis Skinner, the executive editor, who also had seen it, congratulated me on agreeing with him precisely. That presumably didnít hurt my future prospects at the paper, but I still didnít like coming back to the office after the show to pound out a review.

Do-it-yourself: I grew up in an apartment where my exposure to tools was limited to a hammer, a pliers and a screwdriver so old the edges of the blade were rounded. To write my column I had to do what reporters always do: find people who knew something I needed to learn and get them on the phone.

Fashion: Because a general assignment reporter never knows whether heíll have to cover a fire, a riot, a gangster funeral or other interesting outdoor event, in cold weather I always wore a red wool hunting cap with ear flaps. Soon after I began posing as the menís fashion expert, the managing editor saw me in the elevator one day.

"Frisbie," he said. "That hat has to go." I could see his point. I didnít think I would ever be able to persuade my readers to feel stylish wearing hunting caps with ear flaps on Michigan Avenue.

Richard Frisbie

To read back issues, click here

[richard frisbie] [margery frisbie] [the uncommentator ][midland authors ] [ home ]