TIME Education

10 Timeless Pieces of Advice from Commencement Addresses

Words of wisdom throughout the decades

Every year about this time, celebrities, politicians, prominent academics and other notables flock to college campuses to impart advice to graduates.

Some of those words of wisdom seem, in retrospect, not so wise. (Case in point: Clare Booth Luce advocating for the nuclear option against China in 1964.) Others endure because they aren’t words at all, as was the case when the speaker at Fairleigh Dickinson’s commencement in 1981 was Dizzy Gillespie—and, rather than saying much, he played his trumpet.

Some bits of advice, however, have stood the test of time. Here are 10 of the best that have appeared in the pages of TIME over the years:

 

  • Calvin Coolidge at Georgetown University

    In 1924: “The market for trained intelligence will never be overstocked.”

  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt at Oglethorpe University

    In 1932: “The country demands bold persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it and try another. But above all, try something. The millions who are in want will not stand by silently forever while the things to satisfy their needs are within easy reach.”

  • Ralph McGill, editor of the Atlanta Constitution, at the University of Miami

    In 1949: “It has sometimes been my idea that instead of a speaker offering sage advice, it would be a far better idea to place before a graduating audience a fine symphony … or a magnificent ballet, and when this had been completed, to say; ‘Ladies and gentlemen, life can be very lovely or very sad. It probably will be a mixture of both . . . Goodbye, and God go with you . . .”

  • Kirsten Mishkin, the first Radcliffe woman to deliver the traditional Latin commencement address at Harvard

    In 1970 (and this one’s in Latin, so it needs more room):

    Gaudete, vos feminae antiquae! O vos fortissimae invictaeque—Susania Antony, Elizabetha Cady Stanton, Elizabetha Blackwell, nostra Elizabetha Agassiz—quae pro suffragio, pro dignitate muliebri, pro educatione puellarum et doctrina quae pueris foret aequa fortissime contendistis. In universitate Harvardiana, in patria, in orbeterrarum, status feminarum plerumque inferior dudum habetur. Mulieres se contemnere didicerunt. Copiae et honores et titulihominibus dati tamen feminis sunt negati . . . Arma nondum licet deponere, meae sorores, nee proeliurn tarn Ion-gum tamque difficile nobis est relin- quendum. Ubique flagrat iniqua virorum dominatio.

    Rejoice, O women of old! O brave and unconquered—Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Elizabeth Blackwell, our Elizabeth Agassiz—who struggled courageously for suffrage, for womanly dignity, for an education and training for girls which would be equal to that of boys. At Harvard University, in America, in the world, woman’s position is widely recognized to be inferior. Women have learned to despise themselves. Resources, opportunities and honors available to men are denied to women . . . Not yet can we lay down our weapons, my sisters, nor must we abandon so long and difficult a battle. Everywhere an iniquitous male supremacy is rampant.

    “Together, let us establish a new society, the foundations of which will be … not fear, but good will; not war between the sexes, but loyal brotherhood and sisterly love,” she concluded, also in Latin.

  • Beverly Sills at Barnard College in 1981

    In 1981: “If you wonder when you’ll get time to rest, well, you can sleep in your old age if you live that long. You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.”

  • Coretta Scott King at Pomona College

    In 1984: “When we make politics a crusade, politicians will begin to understand that they must serve all of the people and not just a select few.”

  • Ann H. Zwinger at Carleton College

    In 1984: “I highly recommend the pursuit of happiness from east to west, bending and stooping, pausing, enjoying, not going anywhere in particular except down a beach or around a pond, always knowing that there is something wonderful just ahead.”

  • Barbara Walters at Hofstra University

    In 1986: “The hardest thing you will ever have to do is to trust your own gut and find what seems to work for you.”

  • Tracy Kidder at Sarah Lawrence College

    In 1986: “If you do feel a little worried, don’t worry about being worried. You’re heading out on an adventure, and you can always change your mind along the way and try something else.”

  • Jodie Foster at the University of Pennsylvania

    In 2006: “Your Penn education has given you a two-by-four. You may build a building or hit someone over the head.”

TIME Veterans

How to Preserve America’s War Stories Before It’s Too Late

Dennis Martin
Dennis Keith Martin Collection / Library of Congress / Veterans History Project Dennis Martin seated, in Vietnam, ca. 1970

The Library of Congress is collecting the country's first-hand accounts of war

On June 19, 1970, Dennis Keith Martin, a U.S. Army Corporal stationed in Vietnam, wrote a letter to his grandparents. “We are hearing a lot of rumors that the 25th Division or at least part of it will be the next to be withdrawn,” he wrote, at the close of the two-page note. “We are all hoping to be involved in it but I am certainly not going to hold my breath.”

Martin was killed in action that July. Monday will be the 44th Memorial Day since then. But his letters and photographs, like the one seen here, are very much alive.

That’s because Martin’s sister, Barbara, donated them to the Veterans History Project (VHP) of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, which has made them available online. The VHP was created by an act of Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 2000. In the 15 years since, the project has collected nearly 100,000 oral histories from veterans and their families, as well as the families of those remembered each Memorial Day. More than 15,000 of those stories and documents, the first-hand accounts of conflicts from World War I to the present day, can be accessed online.

“I feel like my brother’s experience, like so many other thousands, millions, of people in warfare—it’s such a great loss, and what for? Seeing his letters there it gives some meaning to what happened,” Barbara Martin, who is now a musician in Waynesboro, Va., says. “I think that a lot of times people have a skewed viewpoint of what war really is. I think anything that can show people this is what it really is, this is the horror of it, this is the reality of it, is a very good thing.”

The VHP has done just that for people like Hetal Shah.

Shah is a 19-year-old college student in Aliso Viejo, Calif., who has been volunteering to collect oral histories for the VHP since she was 15. (Anyone can do those interviews, by downloading the how-to kit from the Library of Congress). The very first interview she did for the project was with a World War II vet who told a story of deciding not to shoot a hungry Japanese man despite orders to shoot the enemy on sight.

“When he was saying this story he was crying, not because of the man’s situation but rather because he disobeyed the orders of his commander,” Shah recalls. “That’s when it really hit me how complex war is for soldiers and all the people involved. He mentioned his family and all the struggles they faced while he was away. It made war more complex for me and it gave me all of these different perspectives that I could never learn from my history class.”

Shah has come to see her VHP interviews as something of an urgent mission. The stories of World War I that have made it to the VHP have done so through family members, the same way the stories of men and women like Dennis Martin, who were killed in action, got there. But those veterans who made it home from war are full of stories that have yet to be collected.

“I’ll never get to hear the story of a World War I veteran from his or her point of view. We lose that every time that veteran passes on, we lose their stories with them,” she says. “If veterans are not interviewed before they pass on then no one else will be able to get that same perspective and story from them. It’s very important for us to continue doing this project so that everybody, no matter when it was in history, can know how it really was.”

Her message is exactly what the VHP’s backers hope the project offers. “It’s a resource for the country in the sense that it gives us a way of tying into and understanding the experiences of Veterans, as we think about the country, as we think about the future, and as we think about future military engagements,” says William “Bro” Adams, who is chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities—which is partnering with the Library of Congress to encourage veterans and the families of those killed in action to get involved with the project—and also a Vietnam veteran whose own stories are now part of the VHP archive. “These kinds of stories really give you a sense of things that no other form of recollection can give you.”

TIME technology

A Brief Guide to the Tumultuous 30-Year History of AOL

Time Warner To End Deal With AOL, Spinning It Off Into Separate Company
Mario Tama—Getty Images AOL corporate headquarters on Broadway May 28, 2009 in New York City

The dial-up Internet pioneer was founded on May 24, 1985

It was May 24, 1985 — 30 years ago this weekend — that the company now called AOL first came into existence. In honor of that anniversary, which comes just after the oft-derided company returned to headlines, here’s a quick look back at its turbulent history:

In 1983, Steve Case was a recent college grad with a home computer and modem who got a job at a company called Control Video, which sold Atari games. It collapsed shortly after he arrived. “Out of the ashes, Case crafted Quantum Computer Services,” TIME later reported. “His idea was to create an online bulletin board for owners of Commodore 64 computers. It wasn’t a sexy niche, but he thought it might have potential. From 1985 onward, Case nurtured Quantum from a few thousand members to more than 100,000.”

In 1991, Quantum was renamed America Online. By 1993, AOL introduced its own email addresses, a Windows version and access to the rest of the Internet for its users. Those moves led to some backlash—which soon became a recurring theme for the company.

At that time, one of the biggest sources of tension was that the Internet had previously been available mostly for people affiliated with colleges and universities. Users were used to dealing with “newbies” in the fall, as freshman acclimated to protocol, but now there were new users flooding in every day. “But the annual hazing given clueless freshmen pales beside the welcome America Online users received last March, when the Vienna, Virginia-based company opened the doors of the Internet to nearly 1 million customers,” TIME reported.

By the time AOL went public, the service had fewer than 200,000 subscribers, but TIME later reported that number soon climbed. In 1997, AOL announced they’d acquired CompuServe, riling many loyal CompuServe users. The backlash was echoed the following year when AOL picked up Netscape. The company faced more pushback from users when they switched from an hourly to a monthly pricing plan and launched a major membership drive that led to a traffic surge that couldn’t be handled by AOL’s existing modems. Still, it was, TIME noted, “a novel problem—too many customers,” and the company continued to grow.

By 2000, AOL was the nation’s biggest Internet provider and worth $125 billion. The company merged with Time Warner (then the parent company of TIME), and executives of the combined firm announced that they expected AOL Time Warner to grow 33% in the next year.

By 2002, it was clear such grand predictions were unrealistic. “Despite its powerful brand and unrivaled global member base of 34 million, the AOL division has seen its once stratospheric subscriber growth slow, its ad revenue fall and its international operations bleed money,” TIME reported. “The much ballyhooed broadband move–in which networked homes will enjoy high-speed connections to movies and music whenever they want–is off to a rocky start.”

The following year, Case—who had already taken a diminished role in order to spend time with an ill family member—resigned. “As the Internet bubble burst and advertising slid into recession, the company’s executives were slow to adjust their lavish profit-growth promises to Wall Street, which struck back hard,” TIME reported. “Having tumbled from a high of $56.60, the price of AOL Time Warner’s widely held stock stood at $14.81 at the end of last week, representing an almost $200 billion collapse of shareholder wealth. Levin was forced out. So was chief operating officer Bob Pittman, who had come from AOL. And now goes Case himself.”

AOL was down, but not out. The company split with Time Warner in 2009 and continued to chug along, making money off of its dial-up business and acquiring media properties like the Huffington Post in 2011. Now, AOL is the one being acquired.

Read more about how AOL is coming “back from the dead” here

Read a profile of AOL from 1997, here in the TIME Vault: How AOL Lost the Battles but Won the War

TIME People

What Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall Thought of Their May-December Marriage

Bogart And Bacall
Hulton Archive / Getty Images Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart cut the cake at their wedding on May 21, 1945

The pair was married on May 21, 1945

Married, read the heading before the brief write-up in TIME: “Humphrey Bogart, 45, cinema’s surly, frog-voiced bad man; and Cinemactress Lauren Bacall, 20; he for the fourth time, she for the first; in Mansfield, Ohio.”

The wedding, which took place 70 years ago, on May 21, 1945, made official one of the 20th century’s best-loved on- and off-screen romances—despite a four-and-a-half-decade age gap.

But, while news outlets didn’t obsess about the age difference in the way they probably would today—TIME didn’t editorialize at all about their ages, unless you count a 1969 essay titled “In Praise of May-December Marriages”—it didn’t pass unnoticed. According to A. M. Sperber and Eric Lax’s biography Bogart, Bogart’s wife at the time he began his affair with Bacall, the actress Mayo Methot, referred to Bacall as “your daughter” when talking with her estranged husband.

Bogart was also consumed by the age difference. As Bacall recounted in her autobiography By Myself, it was “never out of [Bogart’s] thoughts” while they courted. Bacall, however, paid it no worry, telling Vanity Fair that 25-year difference was the most fantastic thing for me to have in my life.”

Indeed, the couple was together until Bogart’s death in 1957.

TIME Music

Debunking One of Rock Music’s Original Myths

May 21, 1965
TIME The May 21, 1965, cover of TIME

"Where it once was squaresville to flip for the rock scene, it now is the wiggiest of kicks," TIME declared in 1965

The phrase rock ‘n’ roll first popped up in the pages of TIME in 1955, with a mention that the music business had turned to a trend “known to the teen-age public as ‘cat music’ or ‘rock ‘n’ roll,'” distinguished by “a clanking, socked-out beat, a braying, honking saxophone, a belted vocal, and, too often, suggestive lyrics.”

The idea that rock was largely the music of teenagers became accepted truth. But when TIME devoted its May 21, 1965, cover story to the topic—precisely a half-century ago now—it turned out that it was mostly a myth.

Sure, teens liked the music of the bands listed by the magazine (and what a list: “The Trashmen. The Kinks. Goldie and the Gingerbreads. The Ripchords. Bent Fabric. Reparata and the Delrons. Barry and the Remains. The Pretty Things. The Emotions. The Detergents. Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs. The Guess Who’s. Cannibal and the Headhunters. Them. The Orlons. The Liver-birds. Wump and the Werbles”). In countries like Bulgaria, Cold-War-era governments launched propaganda campaigns to dissuade their young citizens from mimicking the haircuts of the capitalist Beatles. Even in the U.S., a Senate subcommittee was formed to investigate whether the music contributed to juvenile delinquency. Academics studied the subject too, investigating whether the new music was messing with young Americans’ morals.

It’s just that the listeners weren’t only teenagers. The stereotype of the old fogey who hates all that noise turned out not to be true. Even the too-cool-for-pop-music college kids who flocked to folk and jazz were coming around; “On campus, where it once was squaresville to flip for the rock scene, it now is the wiggiest of kicks,” TIME declared.

In fact, when grown-ups started admitting in the ’60s that they actually liked rock, the record companies responded with a big “I told you so,” as the magazine explained:

The sudden public acceptance of rock ‘n’ roll by so many people who supposedly should know better came as no surprise to the record and radio industries. Their surveys have long shown the existence of a vast underground of adult rock ‘n’ roll fans, including those who were raised on Elvis Presley and, though too embarrassed to admit it, never outgrew their hound-dog tastes. Today more than 40% of the “teen beat” records sold in the U.S. are bought by persons over 20. When a Manhattan rock ‘n’ roll disk jockey solicited votes for a “rate the record” feature one recent school-day morning, the station was deluged with 18,000 phone calls, all but a few from housewives. The same feature, aired during prime teen-age listening times, never drew more than 12,000 calls. With a seismographic eye on their markets, many of the sponsors for rock ‘n’ roll radio and TV shows are such Mom-oriented products as detergents, baby lotions and dishwashers.

By 1965, pop music was truly popular: it was the music of everyone everywhere. But while record-label honchos could certainly gloat about that fact, not everyone was happy about it. “We no sooner develop a new dance or something,” one teenager lamented to TIME’s rock reporter, “and our parents are doing it.”

Read the whole story, here in the TIME Vault: The Sound of the Sixties

TIME Television

Why the TV World Once Doubted David Letterman

'It's kind of like putting a SoHo comedian into the Fontainebleau hotel'

The airing of the final episode of The Late Show with David Letterman on Wednesday marks the end of a long and legendary late-night run. Night after night for more than two decades, Letterman has worked to make his The Tonight Show rival into an institution of its own.

Back in 1993, however, that was not exactly a foregone conclusion.

As Letterman prepared to move to the 11:35 slot on CBS, launching his Late Show opposite The Tonight Show, observers wondered whether his style would translate. TIME devoted a cover story to the question, and explained to readers where that doubt was coming from:

The TV question of the moment is whether Letterman’s offbeat, sometimes abrasive style will work at 11:30, where the mainstream audience is more accustomed to the enthusiasm that Carson (and now Leno) brought to the job of helping celebrities promote their new movies. Industry prognosticators are cautious, if not downright skeptical. Leno, inheritor of the powerful Tonight franchise, is generally regarded as the front runner, if only because Letterman’s show will have a weaker station lineup: more than 30% of CBS affiliates will be delaying his program by half an hour or more to make room for syndicated fare. CBS is projecting that Letterman will average a 4 rating — a big jump over its current ratings, though still behind Leno’s (who averaged 4.6 last season). Some advertising gurus think even that is too optimistic. After an initial burst of curiosity tune-in, predicts Gene DeWitt, president of a New York City media management firm, the audience will drift back to Leno. ”CBS’s audience seems to skew a bit older [than Letterman’s]. It’s kind of like putting a SoHo comedian into the Fontainebleau hotel.”

But, as TIME’s Richard Zoglin presciently pointed out, Letterman’s ironic style was becoming more and more mainstream, so the experiment just might work. Indeed.

Read TIME’s 1993 cover story about Letterman, here in the TIME Vault: New Dave Dawning

TIME Television

See Vintage Photos of Late-Night TV Before Letterman

A half-century of laughs, gags and interviews

Hard as it may be to imagine now, when David Letterman is rightly being celebrated for his singular comic gifts, plenty of other late-night TV hosts paved the way for his success. Ahead of Lettermen’s final Late Show on Wednesday, here’s a look back at some of the interviewers and comedians who shaped the format—and one of the man himself (in his first year at Late Night, before he moved over to the Late Show), just for old time’s sake.

Read more: Stephen Colbert, David Letterman and the History of Late-Night Torch Passing

Read TIME’s 1993 cover story about Letterman, here in the TIME Vault: New Dave Dawning

TIME Style

What TIME Got Wrong About the Invention of Blue Jeans

Levi Strauss
Fotosearch / Getty Images Portrait of Levi Strauss, circa 1850s

"Pants don't wear worth a hoot up in the diggins"

As origin stories go, TIME’s account of how Levi Strauss came up with the idea for his trademark denim pants is hard to beat. Here’s how the magazine told it in a 1950 story on Levi Strauss & Co.’s 100th anniversary:

When 20-year-old Levi Strauss sailed from Manhattan round Cape Horn to San Francisco in 1850 to seek a fortune in the gold fields, he carried a roll of canvas in his baggage. He intended to sell it to a tentmaker to get enough cash for a grubstake. But when he got ashore, the complaint of a friendly miner gave him a better idea. “Pants don’t wear worth a hoot up in the diggins,” said the miner. “Can’t get a pair strong enough to last no time.”

Levi promptly went into the clothing business. He had a tailor cut a pair of trousers from his canvas roll, and soon the miner was strolling all over town, boasting how strong were these “pants of Levi’s.” With one satisfied customer, Strauss found he had a steady stream of men who wanted “Levis.” In a shop on San Francisco’s California Street, he began making dozens of pairs of the waist-high overalls which defied the wear & tear of bronc-riding, gold-mining and plain ordinary living.

Years later, the article continued, a miner known only as “Alkali” annoyed his tailor by regularly carrying rocks around that broke his pocket seams. The tailor got the idea to use rivets on the corners of the pockets for stabilization; those rivets were the source of the idea for Strauss’ signature rivets.

Alas, the real story doesn’t quite measure up. As the company tells it, Strauss went West to open a dry-goods store for gold miners; dry goods were the family business, established by his brothers before Levi even got to the United States. To be fair, he did sell cloth—but as a businessman, not an ingenious fortune-seeker. Furthermore, the crucial tailor tip-off about the rivets came from a customer of the San Francisco Levi Strauss & Co. store, who was looking for a business partner to back the idea. On this day, May 20, in 1873, Strauss and his partner, Jacob Davis, were given a patent for work pants strengthened with rivets—the first example of what we now know as blue jeans.

By 1950, per TIME’s count, Levi’s had made 95 million pairs. (The going rate in 1950 was $3.50 a pop.) As for Strauss, he died in 1902.

Read the full 1950 story, here in the TIME Vault: Iron Bottoms

TIME Crime

Motorcycle Culture’s Long History of Image Problems

A recent biker brawl highlights an old conflict

The deadly shootout between police and biker gangs in Waco, Tex., has put a spotlight on one of American culture’s more confusing distinctions: the difference between motorcycle-loving hobbyists and organized biker gangs. As a former undercover agent told the Associated Press, the public and law enforcement can have trouble distinguishing between two subcultures that share lots of similarities.

That confusion is nearly as old as America’s motorcycle culture. In its early years, the nation’s motorbike market was relatively small. As TIME explained in 1939, it got a boost when Euthrie Paul du Pont, of the famous du Pont family, invested in the Indian Motorcycle Co. The company joined with Harley-Davidson, the other leading U.S. manufacturer, to sponsor the American Motorcycle Association and hold organized races that boosted the popularity of riding. When TIME covered the 1953 National Motorcycle Championship, the magazine found that the participants—drawn from the AMA’s 100,000 members— were “most of them temporary escapees from workaday jobs as mechanics, farmers or motorcycle dealers.”

By then, however, those weekend warriors had been joined in the public imagination by a darker element. In 1947, a fight among bikers led to a notorious melee in Hollister, Calif. That was followed by Frank Rooney’s 1951 story The Cyclists’ Raid, about a fictional violent biker gang, which in turn inspired the 1954 film The Wild One, starring Marlon Brando as an iconoclastic biker. “The audience sits frozen with a growing horror as the abscess of violence swells and swells until the watcher almost cries out for it to burst and be done with,” TIME’s critic wrote of the movie.

Meanwhile, the AMA tried to keep its distance. In 1957, for example, an AMA event in Angels Camp, Calif., was marred by violence. The small town had agreed to host motorcycle races and had taken precautions—quadrupling its two-man police force—in case of trouble. The safeguards, however, proved inadequate, as TIME reported:

The A.M.A. pitched its camp in the fair grounds just outside town. The hoodlums, their waists girdled by metal chains and their leather jackets emblazoned with gang names—Vampires, Huns, Tartars—parked their cycles on Main Street and tossed their bedrolls beside Angels Camp’s bubbling trout stream. Then they took over the community. They bought all the beer in town (100 cases), buzzed over to neighboring Altaville for more, and for wine. They guzzled fast, tossed empty cans and bottles into gutters. Residents soon found drunks stretched in their doorways. A group trailed a town girl; while one yelled obscenities, the rest of the pack twirled waist chains menacingly to discourage interference. Three of Angels Camp’s four bars shut down; merchants decided to close early. Then came action. Flashing down the Main Street hill with muffler throbbing, a long-haired youngster wheeled artfully through a knot of idlers, snatched a can of beer on the fly. Hundreds of daredevils kicked their starters, ready to meet his challenge.

Those clashes only intensified after the founding of the Hell’s Angels around 1950. In 1965, California Attorney General Thomas C. Lynch announced that an investigation of the Angels had found that its 450 members had earned 874 felony arrests between them, that their initiation rite required new members to supply a girl who was willing to sleep with everyone in the club, and that they often ran riot through whole towns, terrorizing residents for fun.

“Guzzling beer and shaking the countryside with obscene laughter, they broke up legitimate motorcycle rallies and often sacked small coastal towns. Perversely, pop music (Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots) and film (The Wild One) romanticized such outlaw riders as tragic, misunderstood loners, giving the Angels a place that they scarcely deserve in American folklore,” TIME later noted. “As the bike culture burgeoned, the Angels’ legend became as grimy as their beards, Levi’s and leather vests.”

The occasion for that remark was a 1971 knife fight between the Hells Angels and a rival gang called the Breed. It was at the time “the deadliest rumble in the history of maverick motorcycle gangs,” leaving five gang members dead and 21 injured. It was also another example of the tension between legit motorcycle lovers and those outside the law: the location chosen for the brawl was a trade show sponsored by the Cleveland Competition Club, a chartered American Motorcycle Association organization. “[The] annual show is designed to brighten motorcycling’s image, and has never witnessed as much trouble as a fistfight,” TIME wrote. “The proceeds were to go to a crippled children’s fund.”

TIME Television

The Surprisingly Feminist Roots of The Bachelorette

Dating Game
ABC Photo Archives / Getty Images Host Jim Lange with dancers Ellen Friedman and Anita Mann, on the Nov. 19, 1965, premiere of 'The Dating Game'

How a book about being single led to a show about getting married

The season of The Bachelorette that kicks off on Monday night is the show’s 11th—but its precursor is much older. It was 50 years ago, in late 1965, that ABC premiered a show they called, simply, The Dating Game.

The concept was straightforward: a female contestant is presented with a bunch of suitors, and she chooses which one wins. The stakes were far lower than they are on The Bachelorette—the winner got to go on a date on ABC’s dime—but the concept was quite similar. And, at the time, such a premise was strange enough to merit this dismissive review from TIME:

THE DATING GAME proves that when big ideas die, they go on television. Its spirit is borrowed from Sex and the Single Girl, which enjoyed a huge sale at book counters and furnished the title for a moneymaking movie. For TV, the screen has become a gigantic keyhole through which viewers are invited to watch a series of career-type girls snare a date for the night. Out of girl-sight, three bachelors—at least one a celebrity—parry questions from the husband hunters. Samples: “How would you go about telling your date that she had a dress that was maybe too short or too tight?” “They can’t make a dress that’s too short or too tight.” “What’s your most favorite activity with the weaker sex?” “How intimate may I get?” “Well, let’s make it your second most favorite activity with the weaker sex.”

But, while the magazine wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about the prospect of such televised foolishness, it’s worth noting that it traced the show’s roots to a more substantial cultural moment.

The 1962 book Sex and the Single Girl (which became a 1964 movie and led to a 1965 follow-up, Sex and the Office) by Helen Gurley Brown was a sensation when it was published, and not long before The Dating Game‘s premiere its author had been named editor of Cosmopolitan. Today, aspects of the book’s “big idea” may seem retrograde—its career-girl subject is still focused on men, and her version of leaning in often relies on her feminine wiles—but it was progressive in acknowledging that marriage no longer had to be the first priority for a young woman. She could have jobs, have boyfriends, do what she wanted to do, the way a young man had long been able to—and she could still find a husband later, if she decided that was right for her. “It’s not a study on how to get married,” Brown was quoted saying, “but how to stay single in superlative style.”

So while The Dating Game may have been silly, TIME posited that its format and just-for-fun attitude owed a debt to the groundbreaking book.

A full 50 years later, it’s ironic that the highest-profile descendant of that 1960s lark is the one most focused on marriage. The Bachelorette has been taken to task for its attitude toward women and their sexuality—for example, when a contestant last season was called a slut for sleeping with a candidate whom she later rejected—where The Dating Game was part of a seismic shift in the opposite direction. As Season 11 gets underway, it’s clear that TIME’s 1965 reviewer was more correct than he or she could have known: if the big idea in question went to television and died, it’s now rolling over in its grave.

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