66 – 1954-1961 (69 issues)

66-no-1First issue November 1954, last issue August 1961.

66 was another ToCo offshoot whose title comes from the decision to compose it of sixty-six photos of the same model, with each issue featuring a star of film or show business on the cover. Examples include Diana Dors, Shirley Anne Field, Joan Collins, Brigitte Bardot and Marilyn Monroe. It stems from the early phase of ToCo history when Spick featured more showgirls than glamour models and the amateur or semi-pro models for which it became immortal. Its marketing line at one stage was “The magazine which is a souvenir book”. Possibly – but if you were an avid Spick and Span fan in late 1955, chances are you would have been disappointed; the series was a souvenir of something not particularly memorable.

The first issue hit the streets on 14 November 1955 and featured Gina Lollobrigida. Also making its first appearance that month was Beautiful Britons. Interestingly, although it contained only 52 pages, at 1/6 (one shilling and sixpence) this new title cost 50% more than 66.

Initially, 66 cost one shilling and was slightly smaller (4 x 5.75 inches) than usual pocket-size and ran to 68 pages. Before long, more models appeared on the pages and the content and style began to resemble Spick and Span more closely, moving away from film stars to starlets and glamour models. The format became standard pocket-size and it contracted to 52 pages.

So different is 66 from the two highly successful main titles – and Beautiful Britons – that it is difficult to work out quite why it ever came into existence. Compared to those three, 66 was pretty boring – no accidental-on-purpose flashes of stocking tops and knickers, and no cheeky girls from next door. Nor did it seem to have any editorial identity, changing style several times throughout its life. From issue three, 66’s editor was, unusually and perhaps shockingly for those days, a woman − Marjorie Smith, who had such success three or four years later with the Funfare series. That title, too, by and large featured a single model – but there was a difference. She was always a ToCo favourite and the ToCo DNA was obvious from the first edition. In 66, it was not – and one cannot help wondering whether this was reflected in sales. For whatever reason, for 15 editions or so, from 66-40, there was some sort of blood transfusion; the old favourites were back – and so were the undies and “you’re looking up my skirt again” poses. Welcome back girls!

There must have been some considerable editor office debate about where this mag was going and in October 1960, Robin Brewster, veteran editor of the main titles, took over. And yet things gradually got worse, culminating with the insane idea of devoting the entire mag to reviews of the top night clubs and strip joints in London − for which read promotion and advertising, and Randy Robin maybe getting free passes to all those dens of iniquity. Desperate decision or not, the last two editions saw a rebellious return to mainline ToCo stuff.

The rest, as they say, is silence.