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1925-03 Ziff's Magazine
1949-10 Amazing Stories
1926-01 Ziff's Magazine
1949-11 Amazing Stories
1936-06 Popular Aviation
1950-10 Amazing Stories
1943-03 Fantastic
1951-09 Crime Clinic
1948-01 Fantastic
1952-04 G.I. Joe Comic
1948-12 Amazing Stories
1952-01 Amazing Stories



































William Bernard Ziff was born on August 1, 1898 in Chicago. His father, David Ziff, was born in 1874 in Russia of Jewish ancestry. His mother, Libby Zemsowsky, was born in 1877 in Russia of Jewish ancestry. His parents married in Russia in 1897 and then moved to America, where they had two children, William (b.1898) and Ella (b.1902). The family lived at 1939 Wilmot Avenue in Chicago. The father worked as a jeweler.

In 1914 William Ziff attended Crane Technical High School, where he became interested in a career as a newspaper caricature cartoonist. In June of 1916 he graduated from high school.

In 1917 he entered the workforce as a cartoonist at The Chicago Daily News.

On July 13, 1918 during the Great War he enlisted and served in the Army Air Service as a private first class in Squadron E of the Flying School at Post Field in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Like most young men of his generation, Pfc. Ziff admired the famous pilot Billy Mitchell (1879-1936), who promoted the idea of an expanded Air Force. William Ziff was honorably discharged on May 20, 1919.

In 1920 he founded the William B. Ziff advertising agency, at 680 South Dearborn Street, which supplied advertising for the many African American weekly newspapers that were printed in Chicago at the Cuneo Press.

In 1923 he bought E. C. Auld Publishing Company at Fifth Avenue and St. Charles Road in Maywood, Illinois. His first periodical was Ziff's Magazine, an irreverent joke book that imitated the wildly popular Captain Billy's Whiz Bang from Fawcett Publications of Minnesota.

In 1924 William Ziff married Amelia Mary Morton. She was born in 1904 in Indiana. They lived at 490 Drexel Boulevard in Chicago, and had four children, Sylvia (b.1925), William, Jr. (b.1930), Priscilla (b.1932), and David (b.1939).

In 1926 he changed the name of Ziff's Magazine to America's Humor Magazine. At that time the nation's most successful humor magazine was College Humor, published by Collegiate Press of Chicago. College Humor compiled the best examples of comics, jokes, and saucy poetry from American college publications.

In 1927 William Ziff attended a conference of College Comics in Pittsburgh, where he met Bernard G. Davis, the editor of The Pitt Panther, a humor magazine produced by students at the University of Pittsburgh.

Bernard George Davis was born on December 11, 1906 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His father, Charles Davis, was born in 1863 in Poland of Jewish ancestry. His mother, Sarah Harris, was born in 1878 in Poland of Jewish ancestry. His parents married and had six children, Jennie (b.1889), Jacob ((b.1893), Freida (b.1896), Elliott (b.1898) Gertrude (b.1904), and Bernard (b.1906). The family lived at 1313 Bluff Street in Pittsburgh. The father was a broker in the iron industry.

In 1922 Bernard G. Davis began to attend the University of Pennsylvania. In the summer of 1926 he attended Columbia University in NYC, after which he transferred as a Junior to the University of Pittsburgh, where he became the editor of the school's humor magazine, The Pitt Panther.

In June of 1927 Bernard G. Davis received a Bachelor of Science degree, after which he moved to Chicago and began to work for William B. Ziff as an assistant editor of Popular Aviation Magazine. The editor listed on the masthead was William Ziff's World War hero, General Billy Mitchell. After two years the magazine circulation had grown to one-hundred-thousand. By that time Bernard G. Davis had received a minority equity interest in the W. B. Ziff Company, and was appointed a vice-president and director.

On November 20, 1930 Bernard G. Davis married Sylvia Friedman in Chicago. She was born in 1906 in Chicago and was also a college graduate. They lived in Highland Park, IL, where they raised two children, Joel (b.1933), and Carol (b.1939).

In 1936 the W. B. Ziff Company was renamed "Ziff-Davis Publishing Company" at 540 North Michigan Avenue. The first publication from this newly-formed partnership was the June 1936 issue of Popular Aviation Magazine.

William B. Ziff became one of America's major proponents of Revisionist Zionism. In 1935 he became president of the Zionist-Revisionists of America. He held the position for only one year, but afterwards remained active in Zionist politics.

In 1937 Ziff-Davis produced Popular Photography Magazine, edited by Bernard Davis, who was himself a photography enthusiast.

In 1938 Ziff-Davis acquired Radio News and Amazing Stories from an affiliated distributor of ANC, who owned the magazines after the original founder, Hugo Gernsback, had declared bankruptcy. Sales of the sci-fi pulp Amazing Stories were so strong Ziff-Davis soon added a companion title, Fantastic Adventures. The company went on to produce other pulps, such as Mammoth Detective, Mammoth Adventure, Mammoth Mystery, Mammoth Western, and South Seas Stories. Artists who worked for Ziff-Davis pulps included Robert Gibson Jones, Malcolm Smith, Rod Ruth, Julian Krupa, J. Allen St. John, Harold McCauley, Robert Fuqua, Arnold Kohn, Leo Summers, and Henry Enoch Sharp.

In 1938 "The Rape Of Palestine" by William B. Ziff was published by Longmans, Green & Company of New York. The book accused Britain of conducting anti-semitic policies in its governance of the Holy Land.

In 1942 the title of Popular Aviation Magazine was changed to Flying Magazine.

On February 16, 1942, during WWII William B. Ziff reported for draft registration and was recorded to be forty-three, six-foot, 195 pounds, with brown eyes, brown hair, light complexion, "left arm broken, right third finger broken, and a scar on his right wrist." He was not selected for military service.

In 1942 Ziff-Davis merged with the Alliance Book Corporation.

In 1942 "The Coming Battle Of Germany" by William B. Ziff was published by Duell, Sloan & Pearce of New York.

On July 16, 1943 The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle reported, "William Ziff, publisher, author and aeronautics expert, originally wanted to be a portrait painter. In fact, he was a predecessor of Walt Disney as class artist at Chicago's Crane Technical High School, and started his career as cartoonist on The Chicago Daily News."

In 1944 "The Gentlemen Talk Of Peace" by William B. Ziff was published by Macmillan Company of New York.

In 1946 Bernard G. Davis became president of the Ziff-Davis Publishing Company.

In 1946 "Two Worlds - A Realistic Approach To The Problem Of Keeping The Peace" by William B. Ziff was published by Harper & Brothers of New York.

In 1949 "He The Maker" by William B. Ziff was published by Argus Books of New York.

In 1952 Ziff-Davis moved their main offices from Chicago to New York City, where they hired the artist, Herb Rogoff, as art director. They also decided to produce a new line of comic books, Cinderella Love, Crime Clinic, Romantic Love, Lars Of Mars, Kid Cowboy, Wild Boy, and G.I. Joe. They hired the co-creator of Superman, Jerry Siegel, as their art director. Many of their first comic books had covers painted by NYC pulp artists, such as Norman Saunders, Allen Anderson, Rafael DeSoto and Clarence Doore. The comics were drawn by cartoonists Mike Suchorsky, Frank Kramer, Henry Enoch Sharp, Ernie Schroeder, and Ogden Whitney.

William B. Ziff died at the age of fifty-five in NYC on December 20, 1953. After his death, his son William B. Ziff, Jr., assumed control of the company.

In 1957 Bernard G. Davis sold his shares of interest in the company to his partner's son, and permitted the company to continue to use his name, even though he went on to form Davis Publications, with his own son, Joel Davis, at 229 Park Avenue South. They produced Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Camping Journal, Elementary Electronics, and Science & Mechanics.

In 1969 Bernard G. Davis suffered a heart attack, after which he left NYC and moved to Palm Beach, Florida. Instead of retiring, he continued to serve as the CEO of Davis Publications, while he also became the Director of International Programs for the University of Palm Beach.

In the 1960s Ziff-Davis became a leading publisher of hobby magazines, such as Car & Driver, and Hi-Fi & Music Review. They eventually produced PC Magazine, Popular Electronics, and Computer Shopper.

Bernard G. Davis died at the age of sixty-six on August 28, 1972, while on a business trip to Seoul, South Korea, in his capacity as the Director of International Programs for the University of Palm Beach.

In 1984 the Ziff-Davis company sold the majority of their magazines to CBS Publications, and instead pursued new opportunities in television and computer technology.

                               © David Saunders 2018

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