Sunday, August 7, 2011

Perfect Film & Chemical Company (1967- 1970)

Perfect Film and Chemical Company was created in early June 1967, when  United Whelan  changed their name, since they no longer owned the former Whelan and United Cigar stores.  And that pretty much describes the entire philosophy behind the buisness:   buy a company and then sell or dump it - all for the short term, nothing for the long term.  Martin S. Ackerman (c1932-1993) was the boy wonder behind the wheelings and dealings of PF&C.
  Lets look at some of the companies  that they bought and sold: Pathe, Plume and Atwood, Perfect Film, Hudson Vitamins, Culver Studios,  Downe Communications,  and most important to our topic Curtis Publications, Curtis Circulation, and Magazine Management   
     The Curtis folks had been one of the most dominate publisher for the past century, but it's flagship title,
The Saturday Evening Post was running out of steam, losing money hand over fist due to decrease in advertising.
PF&C didn't want to buy Curtis - they just wanted to loan them lots of money - and have Martin Ackerman be the president of Curtis as well, which happened in April 1968.   This resulted in SEP going to a specialized  market only (disclaimer: my family was one of the many who didn't live in the right area to subscribe),  and then led to SEP no longer being published.  They sold lots of good real estate, they sold their other magazines, they spent a lot of time in board meetings and then eventually in court.
    Circa May 1968 the Curtis Circulation Company is transfered to PF&C.
   In July 1968, PF&C finalized a deal with Martin Goodman for Magazine Management (which included Marvel Comics), and they over running the company by September 1968.
     (cover date - actual date circa September) December 1968 -February 1969, Marvel comics were listed in the indicia, that they were being published by PF&C. This was then changed to PF&C's division, Magazine Management.
    In January 1969 it was announced that PF&C was taking over the publication of several Curtis magazines,
Jack and Jill, Holiday, and Status. This lasted until October.
    Martin Ackerman stepped down (a wealthy man) in May 1969, although he continued to consult for the company.  Sheldon Feinberg became President in June 1969 and then Chairman.
     October 1969 (cover date - actual date circa July ) Marvel Comics and the magazine line began to be distributed by the  Curtis Circulation Company, which was  owned by PF&C.
     In April 1970, PF&C reported a 35 million dollar loss for the year  1969.
     Between October 20, 1970 and January 24, 1971 PF&C changes their name to Cadence Industries Corporation,  They sell off Perfect Film not too long after.
       Martin Goodman is still on board, but his (presumed) 5 year contract is  ticking away.  Cadence enters the 1970s  ready for growth with Marvel Comics, Magazine Management, and Curtis Circulation.

Martin Ackerman died  in August 1993 at age 61.

All information is as best known - and taken from newspaper and magazine accounts from the late 1960s.


  1. Great Stuff.
    You might want to check out the book "From Decline And Fall", by Otto Friedrich 1969, Harper & Row. Otto was an editor at Curtis. Most of the book is about the last days of Curtis. In it he says:

    - pg 330
    Ackerman saw Curtis as 3 operations, a circulation company, a publishing company, and the printing plant/mill.

    His plan was to merge the circulation company with Perfect Film, then once the publishing company was making money, that would be merged in too. That would leave the preferred stockholders with the printing and paper plants, plus a piece of the other companies.

    - pg 353
    May 17, 1968
    Time Inc. advances Curtis $5 mil as prepayment for $3 mil worth of printing and $2 mil of circulation service.
    On the same day, all the Curtis circulation subsidiaries were turned over to the Perfect Film & Chemical Co. They were the Curtis Circulation Company, National Magazine Service Inc., Keystone Readers' Service, Moore-Cottrell Subscription Agencies, and Curtis Distributing Company of Canada.
    - the payment would be paid by a new issue of Perfect Film preferred stock.
    - Curtis had already been removed from the New York Stock Exchange

    - pg 369
    A few weeks before the Status magazine purchase, he bought Magazine Management.
    " 'I've just been talking to this guy who publishes more than 20 magazines, comic books, things you never heard of, and he makes a couple of million dollars' profit every year. We're going to buy his whole company.' "
    " The man's name was Martin Goodman, and his company was called Magazine Mangement Inc., and the magazines included For Men Only, Stag, Men, True Action, Man's World, Screen Stars, My Confession, Movie World, Laught Parade, and Complete Crosswords, plus the comic books, Marvel Tales, Fantastic Four, Strange Tales, The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man. Ackerman did take over this company, but very quietly. He made no move to merge it into the Curtis Publishing empire ..... "

    Nothing more about Goodman/Marvel, but lots more on Ackerman from a guy who was with the SE Post until the end. Well written too.

  2. I always wondered how the early Seventies paperback line of Curtis Books, with its Benjamin Franklin logo, tied in to the venerable Saturday Evening Post, (it was actually an imprint of Popular Library), but I guess Perfect Film was just leasing out the branding rights; the sort of thing that would happen later when Harvey Comics were bought out by a speculator.

  3. a year later, I can say to Martin that Wikipedia says that Cadence (PF&C) owned Popular Library from 1968 to 1970. No idea if Wikipedia is right on that, but certainly could be...


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