But when Mr. Newhouse deemed a magazine’s direction “screwy,” he didn’t hesitate to fire editors, sometimes so maladroitly that they first found out about their dismissals on television or in the gossip columns.
Newhouse magazines were criticized for exalting the rich and famous through articles that gave their personal foibles and professional exploits equal importance. But as circulation and advertising revenues at his periodicals soared, other publishers took up the glitz-and-scandal approach to journalism. By the end of the 20th century, even the most serious newspapers and magazines offered profiles of entertainers, businesspeople, artists and politicians that balanced weighty accomplishment with juicy gossip.
His magazines came to stand for a golden era of publishing and became an integral part of the culture they were covering.
“With Si’s passing, the big chapters in the history of magazines — as written by men like Si and Henry Luce — will have come to an end,” said Mr. Carter, who announced last month that he would leave Vanity Fair in December after 25 years.
Two Hollywood movies, “The Devil Wears Prada” and “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People,” were made based on accounts of life at two of Mr. Newhouse’s flagship publications, Vogue and Vanity Fair. In 2007, Meryl Streep was nominated for an Academy Award for playing a character based on Ms. Wintour at Vogue. After the ceremony, Ms. Streep attended the annual Vanity Fair Oscars party.
Mr. Newhouse owned a modern art collection that at one time was valued at more than $100 million. He and his second wife, Victoria, gave lavish parties at their Manhattan townhouse. And their dog was feted at an annual birthday bash at which Evian water was served to canine guests while their owners enjoyed caviar.
But he was better known as a workaholic who arrived at his Midtown Manhattan office before dawn and sometimes convened staff meetings at 6 a.m. He claimed to read every one…