Newspaper editor Jim Bellows dies

Veteran worked for L.A. Herald-Examiner

Jim Bellows, influential editor of papers including the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner who later worked in television, died of Alzheimer’s disease March 6 in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 86.

Starting in the 1960s, Bellows was editor of the New York Herald Tribune, the Washington Star and the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. Although each paper eventually closed due to financial pressures, he was able to transform them during their last years with quality writing and reporting, giving each city a spirit of competition. He was also associate editor of the Los Angeles Times from 1967-74.

In his 2002 memoir, “The Last Editor: How I Saved the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times from Dullness and Complacency,” he wrote, “I am never happier than when someone hands me a newspaper that is either not very good or in deep financial trouble.” The book was also made into a PBS documentary. Famous for his mumbling prounouncements, he managed to inspire writers even when they couldn’t quite understand him.

Among the writers he championed were New Journalism icon Tom Wolfe, Jimmy Breslin, Dick Schaap, Judith Crist, Richard Reeves, Gail Sheehy and Maureen Dowd.

After working on eight newspapers, he began another career in television. He was executive producer and managing editor of “Entertainment Tonight” in its initial years from 1981-83, helping to jump start the fledgling show, which is still on the air. He then worked at ABC News and “World News Tonight” before trying yet another medium, working for Internet companies such as Prodigy and Excite.

Born in Ohio, Bellows graduated from Kenyon College and served in the U.S. Navy during WWII. He started as a reporter for the Columbus Ledger in Georgia.

Services will be held at 1 p.m. March 13 at Westwood Presbyterian Church, 10822 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. Donations may be sent to South Kent School, 40 Bull’s Bridge Road, South Kent, CT 06785.

Popular on Variety

More Scene

  • The Old Beverly Hills Post Office'Wallis

    The Wallis Cancels April and May Programming in Response to Coronavirus Pandemic

    The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts has cancelled its upcoming programming for the months of April and May in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The performing arts center located in Beverly Hills had already wiped its calendar and closed its premises from public access for the remainder of March, but the center made [...]

  • Watch Rosie O'Donnell and Elton John

    Watch Rosie O'Donnell, Elton John Accept Their GLAAD Media Awards

    The GLAAD Media Awards were supposed to happen Thursday night in New York City, but the LGBTQ media watchdog group canceled the 31st annual festivities in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. However, GLAAD doesn’t want the day to go unnoticed, so the organization has released exclusive video to Variety of Elton John accepting the [...]

  • Tyra Banks Postpones ModelLand Theme Park

    Tyra Banks Postpones ModelLand Theme Park Opening

    Tyra Banks has put smizing on hold. The “America’s Next Top Model” host is postponing the opening of ModelLand, a theme park opening in Santa Monica, Calif. A new launch date has not been announced. “In light of the recommendations of the CDC, WHO, and California Governor Gavin Newsom, we have decided to postpone the [...]

  • AIDS/LifeCycle Canceled Due to Coronavirus Concerns

    AIDS/LifeCycle Canceled Due to Coronavirus Concerns

    This year’s AIDS/LifeCycle has been canceled. The annual bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles is considered the largest single HIV/AIDS fundraising event in the world and benefits the Los Angeles LGBT Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation (SFAF). Last year’s ride raised more than $16 million. Past participants have included Rep. Adam [...]

  • Variety's Power of Women gift bag

    Variety's Power of Women Event Postponed

    In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Variety, the iconic entertainment business news media company, will postpone its high-profile Variety Power of Women: New York from April 3 to July 9. The accompanying magazine that includes the New York Women’s Impact Report will publish on July 7. Variety’s Power of Women events in Los Angeles and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content