Remembering The Editor Who Brought Sex To Seventeen And Predicted Millennials Decades Ago

A former nun-turned-Seventeen-editor-in-chief, Midge Turk Richardson filled the pages of the magazine with discussion of topics like sex and anorexia. She died last week at 82.

1. Midge Turk Richardson was the editor of Seventeen from 1975 to 1993.

Midge Turk Richardson (right)

Her family tells The New York Times she died last week at her home in New York City.

Midge Turk Richardson didn’t follow the path of most teen magazine editors: Before the 18 years she spent editing Seventeen, she spent 18 years as a nun.

Seventeen has typically erred on the conservative of teen magazines, but Richardson made a point to bring touchy subjects to its pages. She told The New York Times in 1987:

“I think the thing we find running through everything, as I guess it has for the 43 years we have been in business, is that the teen-ager thinks of Seventeen as her friend. If we run an article on teen suicide or abortion, we will get as many as 10,000 or 12,000 letters in response.”

She was also an early predictor of the millennial. From that same interview:

”Our reader is specifically saying to us: I’m going to do something which is going to make me happy. They look at the yuppie on Wall Street who is working seven days a week, 14 to 16 hours a day in order to have a lot of money, and they’re saying: We don’t want that for ourselves.”

Richardson (right) with current Seventeen editor Ann Shoket.

Despite her willingness to run articles on topics from drug abuse to abortion, she had her boundaries. In How Sassy Changed My Life: A Love Letter to the Greatest Teen Magazine of All Time, a former Seventeen editor who had been planning a Beastie Boys spread in the magazine recalled:

“Midge was calling from a plane and she told me that the Beastie Boys were performing with a giant penis onstage, and she said, “Cancel that shoot!” Well, the Beastie Boys did not appear in Seventeen.

She also wrote a memoir called The Buried Life about her days as a nun. It’s now a rare collector’s item, priced on Amazon for $247.

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