It Seems Like Yesterday

A Photo Essay on Palm Beach society was to be the lead story in the very first issue of People magazine, to debut on the newsstands on March 4, 1974. The concept for People magazine being the expansion of the popular “People” page in TIME magazine.

Off I went to Palm Beach in February to work with famed columnist Sheila Graham, who would do the reporting. At the time Sheila rivaled Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper for the title of Queen of the Hollywood Gossip Columnists. She seemed the perfect choice for this assignment.

I was prepped before I left New York to make certain I photographed Mary Sanford, whom some had dubbed the Queen of Palm Beach. She had previously been an actress know as Mary Duncan. Arriving in Palm Beach in 1933 with her dashing, polo-playing husband, Laddie Sanford, she subsequently took Palm Beach by storm, and during her glamourous reign she was invited everywhere and chaired every charity ball you could imagine. An event was not an important event unless and until she graced the room.

The extraordinary Mrs. Sanford lived a long, productive life and left her imprint on Palm Beach.  I am pleased to have photograph her as she played a significant part in the celebrated history of Palm Beach society. 

Mary Sanford at home in Palm Beach,  1974. (Courtesy of Harry Benson)