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Former Time Editor Hedley Donovan Dead at 76

August 14, 1990 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ Hedley Donovan, the former editor in chief at Time Inc. who oversaw the growth of Sports Illustrated, the founding of Money magazine and People and the re-birth of Life, has died at age 76.

He died Monday at New York Hospital of an acute infection, the hospital said. He had a chronic lung condition.

Donovan took over Time Inc. in 1964 as the hand-picked successor of Henry Luce, the staunch conservative who founded the magazine and had been its only editor in chief. Donovan gave Time a less ideological stance. He retired in 1979.


He was responsible for the content of some of the nation’s most widely read magazines. Time, Life, Fortune and Sports Illustrated had a combined circulation of more than 13 million in the United States and 50 million worldwide.

Donovan also presided over the growth of Sports Illustrated’s popularity, the founding of Money in 1972 and of People two years later and the success of Time-Life books.

The once-popular weekly Life was suspended in 1972, but the photo magazine was resurrected as a monthly.

Donovan also regulated the tradition under Luce of separating Time magazine’s business and news operations. He created what came to be known as the Donovan Doctrine, which made the editor in chief answerable only to the board of directors.

Donovan once said he tried to make Time magazine ″more thoughtful and more fair-minded.″

During his 15-year tenure - which included the Vietnam War and Watergate scandal - Time magazine stopped reflecting the conservative views of Luce, a staunch Republican with strong views on communism, China and other subjects.

Donovan enjoyed the access his position afforded him to presidents, popes and other world figures. The job was ″wonderful,″ Donovan said, ″one in which it is impossible to say, ’This is work and that is fun.‴

On retirement, he became a non-salaried adviser to President Carter. He left before the 1980 election.

Donovan wrote ″From Roosevelt to Reagan: A Reporter’s Encounters with Nine Presidents,″ in 1985, and an autobiography, ″Right Places, Right Times: Forty Years in Journalism, Not Counting My Paper Route,″ published in 1989.

Hedley Williams Donovan was born in Brainerd, Minn., the son of a mining engineer. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota in 1934. He won a Rhodes scholarship and studied in 1936 at Oxford University, where he was campus correspondent for United Press.

In 1937, he joined The Washington Post. He went on to cover Congress, the State Department and the White House. He left to serve in Naval intelligence in World War II. After the war, he joined Fortune, a Time-Life publication.

He was named an associate editor at Fortune in 1951 and managing editor in 1953. He held that post until 1959, when Luce, looking for a potential successor after suffering a serious heart attack, made Donovan his chief deputy.

Donovan was also a director of the Council on Foreign Relations, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Trilateral Commission.

He lived in New York City and Sands Point, N.Y., and is survived by two sons and a daughter. His wife, Dorothy, died in 1978.