Lois Long (right), early 1920s.
December 15, 1901|
|Died||July 29, 1974
Saratoga, New York
|Alma mater||Vassar College (B.A., English, 1922)|
|Occupation||Journalist for The New Yorker|
She was born on December 15, 1901, in Stamford, Connecticut, the oldest of three children to William J. and Frances Bancroft Long. She graduated from Vassar College. Long had worked at Vogue and Vanity Fair before finding fame at The New Yorker. Harold Ross hired her to write a column on New York nightlife. Under the name of Lipstick, Lois Long chronicled her nightly escapades of drinking, dining, and dancing. She wrote of the decadence of the decade with an air of aplomb, wit, and satire, becoming quite a celebrity. Because her readers did not know who she was, Long often jested in her columns about being a "short squat maiden of forty" or a "kindly, old, bearded gentleman." However, in the announcement of her marriage to The New Yorker cartoonist Peter Arno, she revealed her true identity.
To summarize her lifestyle in her own words: "Tomorrow we may die, so let's get drunk and make love."
She remained with The New Yorker as a columnist until her husband's death in 1968. She died in 1974.
Lois graduated from Stamford High School and entered Vassar College in 1918. Already displaying a drive for literary excellence and exploration, she graduated from Vassar in 1922 with a degree in English. In college, she began growing herself a modest reputation as a journalist, writing a review of "Vassar Dramatics" to the Poughkeepsie Courier in June of her senior year as well as participating as an editor in 1922's Vassarian. In addition to making herself known through the school's written publications, Long occasionally participated in the institution's theatre program.
As soon as she graduated from college, Long moved to New York and began making a name for herself.
The New Yorker
First published in February 1925, The New Yorker was a sophisticated humor magazine designed to appeal to New York City's elite. Even with that target audience, it (like most new publications) struggled financially in its early days; by May 1925, the astute Ross -- looking for ways to increase readership -- realized that Long was just the sort of writer who would. In the changing world of the 1920s, any truly modern magazine needed to appeal to both men and women, and the flapper -- high-spirited, beautiful, independent, sexually open -- did just that.
At 23, Long was paid to review the speakeasies of New York. Her witty, satirical column was called "When Nights are Bold." She was considered the expert on New York's nightlife, and all of her expenses were paid by the magazine. About her lifestyle, historian Joshua Zeitz says:
"Lois Long's columns were laced with a wicked sort of sexual sense of humor. She openly flouted sexual and social conventions. She was a favorite of Harold Ross, who was the original editor of The New Yorker and who couldn’t have been more different from Long if he had tried. He was a staid and proper Midwesterner, and she was absolutely a wild woman. She would come into the office at four in the morning, usually inebriated, still in an evening dress and she would, having forgotten the key to her cubicle, she would normally prop herself up on a chair and try to, you know, in stocking feet, jump over the cubicle usually in a dress that was too immodest for Harold Ross’ liking. She was in every sense of the word, both in public and private, the embodiment of the 1920s flapper. And her readers really loved her." 
Relationship with Ross
The length of Long's career speaks to the quality of her work and to the good, if atypical, working relationship she and Ross shared, despite their different approaches to life.
James Thurber, another longtime New Yorker writer, notes Ross's diffidence when introducing Thurber and Long:
Lois [Long, later married to Peter Arno], whom Ross had been lucky enough to steal from Vanity Fair at the very start of the New Yorker, had once been an actress. She knew just how to embarrass the girl-shy editor, and loved to do it.
The first time I ever saw her, the day after I went to work on the magazine, she came into his office with the devil in her eye.
Ross said hastily, "Don't kiss me, Long. This is Thurber. He's going to make some sense out of this place."
Lois Long, alias Lipstick, alias L.L., who could tell more about a man in two minutes than Ross sometimes found out in two years, plainly doubted it.
Different though they were, they managed to work together -- and knew when, and how, to accommodate the other. Zeitz notes that Long's cubicle was originally on the other side of the building from her assistant, and after growing tired of running back and forth to exchange information, they made the trip on roller skates. In time, Ross grew exasperated and gave them offices next to one another to spare himself and the other journalists such antics.
- Long, Lois (1 January 1949). "On and Off the Avenue: Feminine Fashions". The New Yorker 24 (45): 44–48.
- Long, Lois (15 January 1949). "On and Off the Avenue: Feminine Fashions". The New Yorker 24 (47): 64–68.
- Long, Lois (4 February 1950). "On and Off the Avenue: Feminine Fashions". The New Yorker 25 (50): 64–68.
- Here At The New Yorker - Brendan Gill - Google Boeken. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2012-09-21.
- CJ (2009). "Lois Long". Vassar Encyclopedia. Vassar College. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
- "Prohibition: Lois Long". Prohibition. PBS.
- Thurber, James (1959). The Years with Ross. Boston: Little, Brown.
- Zeitz, Joshua (2006). Flapper: A Madcap Story of Sex, Style, Celebrity, and the Women Who Made America Modern (1st pbk. ed. ed.). New York: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 978-1-4000-8054-0.