Frank Zachary, celebrated magazine editor and art director, chronicling postwar America’s fascination with travel and leisure
The story goes back in 1946, during the aviation times. As transcontinental flights, luxury hotels, vacation packages, and color photography were on the rise, Ted Patrick and revolutionary art director Frank Zachary invented what is considered for many the best travel magazine ever printed.
Having recruited the world’s A-class talent, including William Faulkner, Truman Capote, Joan Didion, Edward Steichen, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Milton Glaser and Slim Aarons to name a few, Holiday’s oversized pages were as unique as ever. The monthly magazine became the American travel bible, offering unique travelogues from around a very jet-set globe.
Frank Zachary, a celebrated magazine editor and art director who pioneered graphic innovations and creative photography while chronicling postwar America’s fascination with travel and leisure and the affluent society,died on Friday ( June 12, 2015) at his home in East Hampton, N.Y. He was 101.
Mr. Zachary was remembered by former colleagues as one of the last great editors and art directors from a golden age of magazines, when many were elegant showcases for superb photography and innovative graphic design, opening windows on the worlds of travel, culture and leisure in a time of growing prosperity.
Anonymous to readers but a paragon to publishing insiders, the courtly, unpretentious Mr. Zachary, a steelworker’s son who never went to college, inspired and introduced generations of writers, photographers and graphic designers. They worked for him at Modern Photography, Holiday, Travel & Leisure, Town & Country and other publications, most of them gone long before the Internet began sounding its knells for the printed page.
Mr. Zachary was perhaps best known in publishing circles as the editor, from 1972 to 1991, who saved Town & Country. A venerable Hearst magazine that had chronicled high society since 1846, Town & Country, with its terminally dull reporting on charity and debutante balls, had become all but irrelevant at a time when Americans were still fighting in Vietnam and waging the Cold War.
“When Frank arrived at T&C, his vision was to take a bland, rather fatuous society magazine with a monthly circulation of only 100,000 copies and transform it into a fresh, intelligent, relevant publication that reflected the diverse interests of its well-heeled readers,” James Villas, a food and wine writer and longtime colleague, wrote in a post for townandcountrymag.com on Mr. Zachary’s 100th birthday.
Mr. Zachary reinvented Town & Country as a service magazine, covering the arts, health, education, racial and political issues, financial trends, gastronomy and lifestyles beyond those of the superrich. And its readership spread beyond the establishment that had been its mainstay; circulation quadrupled in a decade, and profits had increased tenfold by the time he retired.
“Frank’s strength, I think, was that though he didn’t come from money, he neither idolized nor envied nor secretly disdained the rich,” the author Owen Edwards wrote for designobserver.com in 2013. “Like a good anthropologist, he studied this particular tribe, figured out what was most interesting about them and their habits, and found writers and photographers who could show their world in the most entertaining way.”
As the picture editor, art director and managing editor of Holiday from 1951 to 1964, Mr. Zachary assembled a celebrated photography staff that included Slim Aarons and Robert Capa.(Credit Holiday Magazine)
As the picture editor, art director and managing editor of Holiday from 1951 to 1964, Mr. Zachary assembled a celebrated photography staff, including Slim Aarons, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa and Arnold Newman. He assigned them to shoot travel destinations with an offbeat eye — Hamburg’s seedy side, Venice without pigeons, coal mines in Wales — and to take what he called “environmental portraits”: the master builder Robert Moses standing on a steel beam high over New York City, Edward R. Murrow in a CBS broadcasting booth.
But Holiday during Mr. Zachary’s tenure was not just about travel. It reported on the American and European economies, cultural affairs, foods, films and television.
In an era when handshakes often substituted for contracts and masthead titles blurred the burden of responsibilities in publishing, Mr. Zachary and Holiday’s editor, Ted Patrick, often shared duties, including making assignments for writers. Many were dazzling: William Faulkner on Mississippi, Irwin Shaw on Paris, V. S. Pritchett on South America, Nadine Gordimer on Johannesburg, Jack Kerouac on the Beat Generation.
In his last years as the editor, Mr. Patrick relied increasingly on Mr. Zachary to run the magazine, staff members recalled. Mr. Zachary believed that he would be chosen to succeed his boss. But when Mr. Patrick died, Curtis Publishing, the owner, named a Saturday Evening Post editor to the job.
Mr. Zachary resigned. Several senior writers and editors quit, too. More than 50 major contributors to the magazine — Alfred Kazin, William Manchester, Arthur Miller, Budd Schulberg, John Steinbeck and Kenneth Tynan, among them — signed an advertisement in The New York Times defending the defectors as leaders of “a magazine of the highest editorial standards and integrity.”
Mr. Zachary was born Frank Zaharija in Pittsburgh on Feb. 13, 1914, one of three sons of Josip and Roza Protelizac Zaharija, immigrants from Croatia. The boy loved poetry and science fiction and wrote short stories, and despite magazine rejections, he resolved to become a writer. He Americanized his surname as a teenager.
After graduating from high school in Rankin, Pa., he got a job with the weekly Pittsburgh Bulletin Index as a reporter-photographer. In 1933, his editor briefly was John O’Hara, who soon quit to finish his first novel, “Appointment in Samarra.” Using Mr. O’Hara’s contacts in New York, Mr. Zachary became a part-time Pittsburgh correspondent for Time, Life and Fortune magazines.
He moved to New York in 1938 and got a job with Carl Byoir’s public relations agency, but he quit to work for Grover Whalen, generating publicity for the 1939 World’s Fair in New York.
In 1939, he married Catherine Mehler. She died in 2002. In addition to his daughter Amy, he is survived by another daughter, Jennifer Marcianesi; three grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
Mr. Zachary joined the Office of War Information in 1942 and wrote news releases for wartime magazines. After the war, he became an editor for Minicam, a magazine for amateur photographers; it later became Modern Photography, aimed at professionals and serious amateurs.
In 1949, Mr. Zachary, George Rosenthal Jr. and the Russian art director Alexey Brodovitch founded Portfolio, a revolutionary journal of applied arts. Glossy and ad-free, it published only three issues and died in 1951, but it is still widely regarded as a definitive graphic-design magazine, its copies prized as collectors’ items. One issue came with glasses for viewing 3-D pictures; another carried Xerography art. Painters, photographers, poster artists and graphic designers were featured.
Mr. Zachary was named editor emeritus of Town & Country when he retired in 1991. As he neared his centennial, there was an outpouring of published tributes from former colleagues, including one by the New Yorker magazine sportswriter Roger Angell, who had worked with Mr. Zachary at Holiday.
“It was Frank,” Mr. Angell wrote in a blog post for townandcountrymag.com, “who gave the newborn travel magazine an elegance and a pictorial zing that lifted it above its competitors and made each issue so worth the keeping.”
Source: The New York Times by