People Magazine Founding Editor Still Loves That Shirtless Telly Savalas Cover

Thanks to Kojak, Dick Stolley's best day at the Time & Life building came around in the summer of 1974.

“Who loves ya, baby!”

It’s the line actor Telly Savalas made famous during his run as Kojak on the 1973-78 CBS detective series. It’s also the sentiment People magazine founding editor Dick Stolley was shouting from the other coast in between Seasons One and Two.

As Stolley recounted during a recent reunion of Time Inc. employees and panel discussion at the company’s soon-to-be-vacated Time & Life building headquarters at 1271 Avenue of the Americas, People was failing miserably in its earliest days to reach a lofty goal of one million weekly U.S. newsstand sales. After J. Paul Getty on the cover and several Watergate-themed fronts, the magazine finally hit the lollipop center in June 1974. Per a report by Vanity Fair contributor Jim Kelly, Stolley’s memory of that moment:

“And that is why my best day at 1271 occurred in late June when Telly Savalas sold a million copies on American newsstands. We made rate base for the first time, and by the end of the year averaged out a million per issue. To me that was the real launch of People. Not Mia Farrow chewing on pearls, but Telly Savalas, smirking and nude to the waist. Many women wrote us demanding, ‘O.K., now show us the other half.”

The staff of People magazine is scheduled to begin moving over to the new HQ at 225 Liberty Street just before Thanksgiving. Stolley retired at the end of last year.

Previously on FishbowlNY:
Taylor Swift Covers People’s 40th Anniversary Issue