Ginzburg, Ralph 1929-2006

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Ginzburg, Ralph 1929-2006


See index for CA sketch: Born October 28, 1929, in New York, NY; died of multiple myeloma, July 6, 2006, in New York, NY. Publisher, photojournalist, and author. Ginzburg was a controversial magazine publisher of Fact and Eros, who spent eight months in prison at one point for distributing obscene material through the mail. Originally intending to be an accountant, he earned a diploma in 1945 from the Henry George School of Economics and a bachelor's degree from City College in 1949. Before he completed his B.A., however, one of his professors had convinced him to work on the college newspaper, which led to his interest in journalism. After college, Ginzburg became a reporter for the New York Daily Compass for a year. This was followed by jobs as a rewrite man for the Washington Times-Herald, as a circulation and promotion director for Look magazine, and as an articles editor for Esquire in the mid-1950s. Discovering he had a talent for marketing, Ginzburg founded his own magazine, Eros, in 1962. Using a hardcover design and expensive typesetting, the magazine of erotica was difficult to produce and went out of business after only four issues. However, it drew attention from attorneys, and Ginzburg was sued for the allegedly obscene material. The case dragged through the courts for years, and Ginzburg ended up serving prison time in 1972. He had unsuccessfully argued that what was erotic or obscene was purely in the mind of the audience (for instance, he noted that violence was obscene to him, yet it routinely appears in newspapers), and that his magazine was an artistic work protected by free-speech rights. Before his conviction, he also managed to get into legal problems with his next magazine, Fact, a political journal that often criticized politicians. One of these was U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater, who sued the publisher and won seventy- five thousand dollars for defamation of character. Ginzburg also published the culture magazine Avant Garde from 1968 to 1971. After serving his prison time, he tried to revive Avant Garde, but only wound up in further debt. His next endeavor, Moneysworth, was a consumer advice periodical that became his most successful publication and at one point had a circulation of over two million subscribers. Giving up publishing in the mid-1980s, Ginzburg switched to a career in photojournalism and became a regular contributor to the New York Post. Many of his photographs were collected in his I Shot New York (1999). The author of An Unhurried View of Erotica (1958), Ginzburg wrote about his legal problems in "Eros" on Trial (1966) and Castrated: My Eight Months in Prison (1973).



Ginzburg, Ralph, Castrated: My Eight Months in Prison, Avant Garde Books, 1973.


Chicago Tribune, July 7, 2006, section 3, p. 7.

Los Angeles Times, July 7, 2006, p. B11.

New York Times, July 7, 2006, p. C15; July 11, 2006, p. A2.

Washington Post, July 7, 2006, p. B6.