September 24, 2020

Geoff Miller, Co-Founder of Los Angeles Magazine, Dies at 74

The cause was a degenerative nerve disease, his wife, Kathryn Leigh Scott, said.

Los Angeles magazine — one of the nation’s first city magazines — was started in 1960, eight years before its East Coast counterpart New York magazine was first published. It has outlasted more than half a dozen magazines based in Los Angeles, including New West, started in 1976 by Clay Felker, the founder of New York magazine.

“Los Angeles was to be a magazine celebrating the unruly young city in all its contrary glory,” Mr. Miller wrote in a 30th anniversary issue in 1990. “It would accept the community on its own terms — as the collection of villages it truly was, still looking for an identity.”

Mr. Miller was a student at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1959, designing a prototype urban magazine for his master’s in journalism, when he met David Brown, an advertising executive who shared his vision.

On a start-up budget of $50,000, Mr. Miller and Mr. Brown hand-cut and pasted the first issue in the summer of 1960 after cobbling together freelance articles, some written by reporters moonlighting under pseudonyms from the local Time-Life bureau. Eventually, name writers like Ray Bradbury, Joseph Wambaugh and Budd Schulberg became contributors.

Celebrities posed for the monthly covers, often in spoofs: Alfred Hitchcock carving a Thanksgiving turkey for the November 1974 issue; Christopher Reeve ripping open his shirt and revealing a large Valentine’s Day heart on his T-shirt for the February 1980 issue.

Mr. Miller was editor in chief of Los Angeles from 1974, when Mr. Brown left the magazine, until 1990, when he became publisher. Under his leadership, the magazine expanded service journalism, on topics including where to dine and shop or where to find the best car wash. There was an annual “52 Great Weekends” issue.

Some critics said the magazine was too focused on affluence and celebrity.

But Mary Melton, its current editor in chief, defended Mr. Miller’s work.

“When you go through our past issues, what is often overlooked is how what was inside really captured the era,” she said, “which people sometimes forget because of the covers: critiques of our civic institutions, the need for historic preservation, white flight, the embattled school district in the ’60s.” A 1978 article examined the poor quality of Los Angeles water.

Los Angeles magazine had a circulation of about 17,000 when Mr. Miller became its top editor. By the time he retired in 1994, circulation had surpassed 160,000. It is now about 140,000, Ms. Melton said.

George Geoffrey Miller was born in Salt Lake City on Aug. 1, 1936, to Edward and Rosemary Miller. The family later moved to Los Angeles. Mr. Miller earned his bachelor’s degree in 1958 and his master’s a year later, both from U.C.L.A.

His first wife, Barbara Selcer, died in 1985. Besides Ms. Scott, he is survived by two stepchildren, Steven and Lori Selcer, and two step-grandchildren.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=6137ce53d6eb6edeeb7251c029dd6df6

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