Not to put too fine a point on it, but the magazine you hold in your hands might not exist if it weren’t for Richard B. Stolley. As Time Inc.’s editorial director from 1989 to 1993, he helped push ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY off the drawing board and onto the newsstand six years ago. Even more crucially, as the founding editor of PEOPLE, he helped invent the sort of modern celebrity journalism that makes a publication like ours possible. In fact, EW was born out of the pages of PEOPLE — you can find our genetic blueprint in its Picks & Pans section — which makes Stolley something of a grandfather figure around here. That’s why we were all so thrilled when, at the 30th annual National Magazine Awards last month, he was among the five distinguished journalists inducted into the American Society of Magazine Editors’ newly established Hall of Fame. ”We owe Dick a huge debt,” says EW’s managing editor, James Seymore. ”We’re delighted to see him recognized for everything he’s accomplished in journalism.”
One of Stolley’s most stunning accomplishments came in 1963, when, as LIFE’s L.A. bureau chief, he purchased for the magazine the historic Zapruder film of JFK’s assassination — perhaps the most famous home movie ever taken. Then, in 1973, not long after editing the weekly Life‘s final issue, he set to work on PEOPLE — which would soon become one of the most successful magazines in publishing history.
During EW’s infancy, Stolley not only offered moral support but also rolled up his sleeves and edited copy along with Time Inc.’s then editor in chief, Jason McManus. ”I did it with a red pen and Jason did it with a green pen,” Stolley remembers. ”We became known as Mister Red and Mister Green. It never occurred to us then that the magazine could become the feast that it is now. It’s very gratifying.”
Here’s to you, Mister Red.
Michael J. Klingensmith, Publisher