Peter Kaplan, who edited The New York Observer for 15 years before becoming the editorial director of Fairchild Fashion Media, died Friday at the age of 59. The cause was the effects of lymphoma, WWD reported.
The longest-serving editor of the Observer, Kaplan was best known for his impact on the salmon-colored weekly paper, which he was credited with making a sharp-tongued chronicler of the city's power elites. Kaplan "splashed oversize illustrations on the cover, played up the headlines and laid bare the absurdities and humor in Manhattan's well-entrenched excesses," WWD wrote.
He influenced many other publications and websites through the many writers he brought on and cultivated, including Candace Bushnell of Sex and the City fame; Joe Conason, founder of National Memo; Capital New York's Tom McGeveran; and Deadline's Nikki Finke. As The New Republic wrote in a 2012 profile, "Subtract Kaplan from the media landscape of the past 20 years and you lose The Awl, much of Gawker, and a good bit of Politico, too." He left in 2009 shortly after the paper was sold by its founder Arthur Carter to real estate scion Jared Kushner, and not surprisingly, then, over the years, Newsweek, The Huffington Post and Condé Nast have come calling.
As much for his impact on journalism, Kaplan was known for his eccentric style. He wore tortoiseshell glasses and khakis and is famous for his love for old Hollywood. His anachronistic style was captured in these parody Twitter feeds that were created by former Observer staffers Peter Stevenson and Jim Windolf in a sort of homage to him.
Earlier in his career, Kaplan was a reporter for The New York Times, executive editor of Manhattan, Inc., and executive producer for Charlie Rose. He's survived by his wife, Lisa Chase, an editor at Elle; and their son; as well as three children from his first marriage.