Andrew Heiskell, who served as chairman of Time Inc. and spearheaded philanthropic efforts to improve the New York Public Library system, died July 6 at his Darien, Conn., home. He was 87.
Heiskell spent 43 years with Time Inc. and rose to chairman and chief executive before embarking on a career in philanthropy in which he raised hundreds of millions of dollars for the library system.
Born in Naples, Italy, of American expatriate parents, he was invited to enter Harvard Business School although he had never attended college. He abandoned his studies and began his Time Inc. career in 1937 writing and editing articles on science and medicine for Life magazine. He soon moved from editorial responsibilities to business duties.
At 30, he became publisher of Life magazine, and in 1960 he was named topper of the entire Time Inc. media conglomerate, which also included book and newspaper publishing, pulp and paper production, films, and cable television and data marketing. He ran the company until 1980, reluctantly closing down Life during his tenure but launching People in 1974.
During the late 1960s, after riots tore through many American cities, Heiskell helped found the Urban Coalition, an organization of community coalitions that addressed urban problems.
Later, as chairman of the Enterprise Foundation advisory board, Heiskell helped to advance $600 million of housing in blighted areas of the city.
Heiskell joined the board of the New York Public Library in 1978 and launched a rescue effort for the ailing system. Along with director Vartan Gregorian and fellow philanthropist Brooke Astor, he began a campaign to transform the city’s libraries.
He later teamed up with writer and urban scholar William Whyte in a 12-year project to rehabilitate Bryant Park, the midtown lawn abutting the main New York Public Library.
In his 1998 memoir, “Outsider, Insider: An Unlikely Success Story,” Haskell lamented the absorption of Time Inc. in the 1989 merger with Warner Communications.
Heiskell was married three times. He had a son and a daughter with his first wife, Cornelia Scott. His second wife was actress Madeleine Carroll, who starred in such movie classics as Alfred Hitchcock’s “The 39 Steps” and “Secret Agent” and the Bob Hope comedy “My Favorite Blonde.” They had a daughter, who predeceased him.
Survivors include his widow, Marian Sulzberger Heiskell; a sister; his two children from his first marriage; a stepsonand two stepdaughters. Mrs. Heiskell is also the widow of Orvil E. Dryfoos, publisher of The New York Times, who died in 1963.