Geoff Miller, co-founder and 34-year veteran of Los Angeles magazine, died Saturday at his Beverly Hills home. He was 74. He is survived by his wife, Kathryn Leigh Scott.
Mr. Miller held various positions during his long tenure at the magazine, serving as editor-in-chief from 1974 to 1990 and publisher for an additional four years. After retiring from the magazine in 1994, Mr. Miller spent his time traveling between New York, London and Los Angeles consulting on entertainment and publishing projects. He is survived by his wife, actress Kathryn Leigh Scott.
Los Angeles, or Southern California Prompter as it was known in its first year, was founded in 1960 -- a time when the city magazine was still a very novel concept. As Mr. Miller once explained in a column titled "An Unabashedly Subjective History of 'Los Angeles' Magazine," New York magazine was still eight years away from existence, while other titles like Washingtonian, Boston and San Francisco were but a twinkle in their respective cities' eyes. Baltimore magazine, however, had been around since 1907. And Philadelphia was being published as well. But the latter, wrote Mr. Miller, was at the time put out by the city's Chamber of Commerce and "usually featured a middle-aged guy in a suit on the cover."
Los Angeles was independently founded by Mr. Miller and advertising executive David Brown with an estimated startup cost of $50,000 -- a fund that was quickly drained on an already-lean staff who worked out of offices on Rodeo Drive just years before the street became the most expensive in America. Messrs. Miller and Brown were very hands-on in the magazine's early days.
"Dave and I literally put together our 48-to-64-page issues by ourselves, cutting, pasting and making up the pages by hand -- and most would say the magazine looked it," Mr. Miller wrote. "We had no art or design director, and not just because we couldn't afford one. At that time, except for the large picture books like Life and Look, most magazines were still constructed to be read, not merely looked at. Although television had been around for more than a decade, the magazine industry was still largely in denial about the importance of graphics. Dave himself had an almost pathological abhorrence of 'designeritis' -- a magazine looking as if it were run by the art department. We were certainly in no danger of that."
Still published today, by radio company Emmis Communications, Los Angeles has outlived other L.A.-based titles -- most notably New West, which New York magazine founder Clay Felker launched in the 1970s after an unsuccessful bid to acquire Los Angeles. In fact, it was the splashy failure of New West that was Los Angeles' greatest gain.
"One of the ironies of New West's overreaching promotion was that it had awakened national advertisers, mostly based in New York, to the importance of the Los Angeles market. Of course, they bought ad pages in New West, but for the first time, they also began buying into the magazine bearing the city's name," Mr. Miller wrote. "Los Angeles' national advertising exploded, adding to an already well-established base of local retail advertising, a category New West was never able to consistently crack."