Osborn Elliott

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Osborn Elliott
Evergreen Cemetery, Osborn Elliott.jpg
Evergreen Cemetery, Osborn Elliott
Born(1924-10-25)October 25, 1924
DiedSeptember 28, 2008(2008-09-28) (aged 83)
New York City, New York, U.S.
OccupationEditor, journalist
Spouse(s)Deirdre Spencer (divorced)
Inger Abrahamsen (1973–2008 his death)

Osborn Elliott (October 25, 1924 – September 28, 2008) was the editor of Newsweek magazine for sixteen years between 1961 and 1976.[1] Elliott is credited with transforming Newsweek from a staid publication into a modern rival of Time.[1]

Newsweek's circulation doubled to 3 million issues during Elliott's tenure as editor, which narrowed the gap with Time.[1]


Early life[edit]

Osborn Elliott was born in New York City,[1] the son of Audrey Osborn and John Elliott. His father worked as an investment counselor.[1] His mother was a high-profile real estate agent in Manhattan who had been actively involved with the American women's suffrage movement of the early 20th century.[1]

Elliott attended St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire.[1] He attended and graduated from Harvard University on an accelerated two-year wartime program.[1] He served in the United States Navy for two years after graduation as a naval officer.[1]


Elliott began his career in the news magazine publishing industry by joining The Journal of Commerce and then Time.[1]

He was first hired by Newsweek in 1955 as a senior editor of business news.[1] He was promoted to managing editor of Newsweek in 1959.[1]

Elliott was further elevated to editor of Newsweek in 1961 when the Washington Post Company acquired the magazine.[1] He became editor in chief of Newsweek in 1969.[1] He took on the additional roles of president, chief executive and chairman within the following three years.[1]

New York City Mayor Abraham Beame offered Elliott a position with the New York City government in 1976 as the newly created deputy mayor of economic development.[1] Elliott left Newsweek to take the deputy mayor position for an annual salary of $1 per year.[1] Elliott's role in New York government was to reverse the loss of jobs which was taking place at the time in New York City.[1] He served as deputy mayor for the remaining 15 months of the Beame administration.[1]

Elliott was named dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in January 1978.[1] He stepped down from that position in 1986, but remained at the school as a journalism professor.[1] The Asia Society, which is headquartered in New York City, has since named an annual journalism prize, the Osborn Elliott Prize for Excellence in Asian Journalism, in his honor.[1] In 1975, Elliott founded Citizens Committee for New York City along with Senator Jacob Javits. His 1980 autobiography was titled "The World of Oz."

Personal life[edit]

With his first wife, Deirdre Spencer, Elliot had three children: Diana Elliott Lidofsky, Cynthia Elliott (Rice), and Dorinda Elliott (Ignatius). They divorced in 1972.[1] He married his second wife, Inger McCabe Elliott,[2] in 1973 and became a stepfather to her three children, Alec McCabe, Marit McCabe (Dubois), and Kari McCabe (McBride).[1]


Osborn Elliott died in New York City on September 28, 2008. He was 83 years old.[1] Elliott was survived by three daughters and stepchildren.[1] The current editor of Newsweek, Jon Meacham, called Elliott, "Wise and witty, Oz Elliott is the architect of the modern Newsweek."[1] The Asia Society released a statement which called Elliott "one of the earliest practitioners of 'civic journalism' -- the deliberate focusing of the journalistic enterprise on urgent issues of public policy."[1]

Cultural references[edit]

Elliott's victimization at the hands of the con artist David Hampton provided some of the basis for John Guare's drama Six Degrees of Separation.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab "Osborn Elliott dies at 83; longtime Newsweek editor". Bloomberg News. Los Angeles Times. 2008-09-29. Retrieved 2008-10-26.
  2. ^ author of Batik: Fabled Cloth of Java, Hong Kong: Periplus, 2004
  3. ^ Witchel, Alex; Times, Special to The New York (21 June 1990). "The Life of Fakery and Delusion In John Guare's 'Six Degrees'". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 January 2018.


  • Osborn Elliott: The World of Oz: An Inside Report on Big-Time Journalism by the Former Editor of Newsweek. New York: Viking Adult, 1980.

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