This week, to mark our anniversary, we’re bringing you a selection of classic Profiles from our archive. In “Mazie,”
published in 1940, Joseph Mitchell writes about an intriguing local figure who runs the ticket booth at a seedy movie theatre on the Bowery. (“At the Venice, Mazie is the bouncer. She tells intimates that she feels fighting is unladylike but she considers it her duty to throw at least one customer out of the theatre every day.”) In “Secrets of the Magus,” Mark Singer takes us behind the scenes with Ricky Jay, the acclaimed magician and master illusionist who took sleight of hand to new heights. In “A Pryor Love,” Hilton Als explores the groundbreaking vision of the comedian Richard Pryor.
(“Pryor’s art defies the very definition of the word ‘order.’ He based his style on digressions and riffs—the monologue as jam session. He reinvented standup.”) In “Covering the Cops,” Calvin Trillin chronicles the career of the intrepid Edna Buchanan, Miami’s top crime reporter in the eighties. In “Living Large,” Susan Orlean profiles Fab Five Freddy, the pioneering rapper and one of the coolest men in nineties New York. In “Cotton-Dress Girl,” published in 1943, Janet Flanner considers the dynamic, unconventional personality of the actress Bette Davis. (“She is disciplined but
unpredictable, is mettlesome, is creative, and hates monotony. She is truthful, and as candid as glass.”) Finally, in “A Sense of Where You Are,” John McPhee writes about the soaring athleticism of the Princeton basketball phenom (and future U.S. senator) Bill Bradley. The word “profile” suggests glimpsing someone from an unexpected angle. All of these pieces offer memorable and evocative impressions of their subjects, as well as of the eras to which they belong. We hope that you find them as captivating as we do—and that you’ll join us in celebrating some of the unforgettable personalities the magazine has highlighted over the past ninety-six years.