Erwin Glosker, the magazine and book designer, whose long career included creating the opulent look of American Heritage, a biweekly report on US history that achieved mass market success during the heyday of magazine publishing in the mid-20th century, died August 30 at his home on Upper West Side of Manhattan. He was 98 years old.
The death was confirmed by his daughter, Anne Glosker.
Beginning in 1954, American Heritage, with Mr. Glusker establishing her visual identity as art director, used the tone of a live-action news magazine for history buffs to become a staple in dens across the country, a print precursor to the genre of serial documentaries now regularly produced by director Ken Burns. for public television.
What started as a single magazine has grown into a company that publishes books on topics such as the Civil War and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. a second magazine, Horizon, dedicated to art and culture, which was also packaged and presented to appeal to popular tastes; And the dictionary This was unusual for his heavy use of illustrations.
It was Mr. Glosker who directed the design of everything, a self-confident man with a commanding voice and a keen sense of humor described as generous, enthusiastic and encouraging by those who worked with him.
“He’s a good old-fashioned art director,” said Walter Bernard, who joined the American Heritage Company in 1962 to design a book on World War I history, and has since gone on to design and direct many well-known magazines and newspapers.
Bernard recalled in a telephone interview how the staff of American Heritage, in cooperation with United Press International, walked under a tight deadline to produce Kennedy’s book, Four Days, published in January 1964, less than two months after the assassination covering the period from the day he was murdered President until the day of his burial.
“Irwin was the engine,” said Mr. Bernard.
Most of Mr. Glosker’s work has not been related to the news. He filled the pages of American Heritage with full-color copies of engravings, lithographs, and paintings to create journals worth the wait, and well worth the subscription price: $10 for six issues per year (more than $100 in 2022 dollars).
“It was a huge success largely because of it,” said Richard F. Snow, an author who was a longtime editor at American Heritage.
Erwin Glosker was born on June 8, 1924 in Brooklyn. His father, Hyman Glosker, worked in a shoe factory. His mother, Ida (Schmidt) Glosker, was a housewife and freelance seamstress to help support the family.
Mr. Glusker enrolled at Cooper Union after graduating from Boys High School in Brooklyn, but his studies were interrupted when the Army drafted him shortly after he turned 18. Soldiers’ art performance at Truax Field in Wisconsin in 1944, The Capital Times of Madison reports.
After completing his military service, Mr. Glosker returned to New York and graduated from the Cooper Union in 1948.
Getting started, writing in a 1986 memo describing his career, he worked “in several dungeons in San Francisco and New York.”
A chance encounter completely changed his career path. When Mr. Glusker told the story to his daughter, he was having dinner with his former boss when they met one of three Time Inc veterans. — he wasn’t sure of them — who had recently acquired the five-year-old American Heritage from the American Association of State and Local History, with plans to turn what had been a dry history magazine into a flagship.
Anne Glosker said her father told her, “My whole profession depends on meeting one person with another” in a restaurant.
Mr. Glusker initially kept the job he held and worked at American Heritage alongside him. His first assignment involved designing direct mail materials used to attract subscribers.
The Retooled Journal – its first editor was the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Bruce Caton, whose first issue included articles about a Union Army general falsely accused of treason and steamer line on the East Coast – soon a hit, Mr. Glusker joined full-time to oversee every aspect of his design. In 10 years, she had 300,000 subscribers.
Mr. Glosker told American Heritage of 2004 article on the occasion of the magazine’s fiftieth anniversary.
The company’s books included “History of the American Civil War Image Heritage,” which won a special Pulitzer Prize for the group in 1961. Mr. Glosker was the book’s artistic director.
It remained at American Heritage until 1969, when it was sold to McGraw-Hill. (It was later acquired by Forbes, which Discontinued print edition in 2007 It sold a majority stake to a group that includes its current editor-in-chief, Edwin S. Grosvenor. The American Heritage Site It contains an archive of old issues and also publishes new articles.)
With the sale to McGraw-Hill, Mr. Glusker left to become Art Director for Life magazine. Anne Glosker said the shift from the more relaxed American Heritage pace to the scramble in the news cycle led him to start smoking again.
Life was coming to an end as a weekly, but it wasn’t lacking in serious topics in Mr. Glosker’s time there, including one of the most notorious atrocities of the Vietnam War: “I dealt with the planning of the My Lai massacre,” he wrote in a 1986 memo.
He continued, “I got involved with Woodstock, and helped bury Teddy Kennedy’s presidential aspirations under little nuances on Chappaquiddick.” He added that there had also been the Kent State shootings, the first moon landings and Norman Mailer’s “eight billion words” on the subject, which he confined to oddly shaped ads.
After the original iteration of Life discontinued in 1972, Mr. Glusker opened a design firm and produced books in collaboration with Nancy Sinatra, Charles Coralt, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among others.
He returned to the magazine in the 1980s as a consultant for Gourmet. The job was a good fit, allowing Mr. Glosker, an established foodie, to make himself a pest in the test kitchen and act as a mentor like the young Famous food photographer Romulo Yannis.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Glosker is survived by his son Peter and four grandchildren. His wife, Lillian (Goldman) Glosker, whom he met when she was a copy editor at American Heritage, died on July 30.
Although the print publications on which Mr. Glusker worked have disappeared, his art lives on in physical form in at least two pieces outside the publishing business.
One, a bronze statue, “The Rowers,” has stood outside the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park since 1968.
The other is a black and white poster-shaped calendar depicting the phases of the moon, sold by the Museum of Modern Art Design, which commissioned it and described it as a “lovable classic.” The 2023 edition is now available.
Alain Delaquérière contributed to the research.