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How It All Began
Frank Deford
February 07, 1989
SI's swimsuit issue was created 25 years ago to fill a midwinter sports gap
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February 07, 1989

How It All Began

SI's swimsuit issue was created 25 years ago to fill a midwinter sports gap

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FEBRUARY."
—Paul Gallico's reply, when someone asked him why he had left sportswriting.

Ringgg!

It wasn't easy being a career girl at a pressure-packed national weekly magazine in New York back in 1964. Harder still if you were trying to manage a marriage and motherhood too.

Ringgg!

Now, on top of everything else, hems were rising precipitously, and more daring women were actually wearing skirts an inch above their knees. For Jule Campbell, who was a wife and the mother of a five-year-old son as well as a reporter in the fashion department at SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, it....

Ringgg!

Campbell reached for the phone. "Hello, Jule," trilled a voice. "Could you come down and see Andre?"

Campbell took a deep breath and clutched at her throat. Andre! Andre wanted to see...her?

Managing editor Andre Laguerre ran SI. Ran it? Why, just that year the mysterious Frenchman had rescued it from financial ruin. Laguerre was born in London of an English mother and spent much of his youth in San Francisco, where his father was the French consul. After returning to France in the late 1930s, he escaped the German army at Dunkirk and eventually became the press secretary and back-channel courier to General Charles de Gaulle, leader of the Free French forces. In Paris, after the war, Laguerre wrote a horse racing column for the Herald-Tribune under the nom de plume Eddie Snow and showed a partiality for tall, dark-haired, patrician beauties. Eventually he would marry one and return to the U.S. to become the managing editor of SI, but even his closest friends, trying to match Scotches with him (but rarely succeeding) at Jack's in London or the Three G's in Manhattan, knew little about the man or his past.

Laguerre was at his desk when Campbell walked into his office. Cigar smoke wreathed his head; his heavy-rimmed glasses were pitched precariously forward on his nose. He wore, as always, a white shirt, sleeves rolled up, and a striped tie, Windsor-knotted, loose at the throat. The white stick (it had once been the shaft of a golf club) that constantly accompanied him when he was in the office lay on the desk close to his right hand, at the ready, like a gunfighter's trusty six-shooter.

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