Under the headline “Meet the Wackiest Millionaire Ever to Run for President,” the first sub-head in Money magazine education editor Greg Daugherty’s hysterical history lesson reads No, not that one. The second sub-head, a little further down, proclaims that the guy in question was a Self-Made Muscleman.
And the lead photo (pictured, at right)? It dates back to 1893, which was just a few years before Donald Trump’s grandfather would move from the Pacific Northwest to Canada and make his fortune in gold.
It’s all part of Daugherty’s look at the crazy life of Bernarr MacFadden (not a first-name typo), a man his sister publication Time once deemed “a puny Missouri hillbilly.” Puny or not, The Bernarr amassed a 1920s fortune equivalent to around $420 million of today’s dollars:
In 1919, MacFadden launched True Story, the first women’s confession magazine and a pioneer of what would later be called reader-generated content. It was followed in short order by True Romances, True Love, True Detective, and other true moneymakers. In 1924, he started his own daily newspaper, the New York Evening Graphic, a sensational tabloid known for its lurid headlines and elaborate fake photos (“widely considered to be the worst newspaper in U.S. history,” biographer Adams notes). In 1931, he purchased Liberty magazine, a mass-market weekly and rival to titles like The Saturday Evening Post.
Did you catch that? This guy was on the cutting edge of “reader-generated content,” a century before today’s purveyors. His first name, with the goofy two “R’s”, was of his own subsequent generation.
There’s SO much more in Daugherty’s piece, including the details of how MacFadden’s Republican presidential nominee aspirations hit the skids in Cleveland in 1936, but not before leaving him “out an estimated $100,000 in bribes.” Read, re-read and pass it on!