Carlo Vittorini, publisher who led Parade Magazine, the nearly ubiquitous Sunday newspaper supplement, to heights in revenue and circulation, died June 25 at his summer home in Nantucket, Massachusetts at the age of 94.
His wife, Nancy (Coleman) Vittorini, said the cause was congestive heart failure.
Mr. Vittorini has been in the magazine business for 50 years, almost all of it when it was still thriving. In 1992, when circulation for the show was on the rise, he confidently told the St. Even Time magazine and Newsweek can’t reach the spectrum of people we can reach.”
In 1979, he was hired by SI Newhouse Jr. , president of Advance Publications, as Parade’s publisher and president and CEO.
Parade’s advertising revenues were $140 million when Mr. Vittorini took office. He pushed that figure to nearly $450 million in 1994, when a full-page ad cost $640,000, comparable to the price paid for television ads.
“We are what Ed Sullivan was,” he told Bloomberg Business News in 1995, referring to the host of the Sunday night TV variety show who entertained audiences for 23 years before he went off the air. 1971. “But our ratings are more stable and our show each week more predictable.”
By 1998, the show had been circulated in about 330 newspapers, giving it a circulation of 37.5 million copies. It had a circulation of 21.5 million when Mr. Vittorini was appointed.
By then, Parade was introducing a familiar product that had crept out of the still-fat Sunday papers: the Walter Scott character show, a page of questions and answers about celebrities; former New York Magazine editor James Brady interviews Hollywood stars; columns for Marilyn Vos Savant, who was described by the magazine as having the highest IQ on record; and advertisements from the Franklin Mint, tobacco companies, and “as seen on TV” products such as Thighmaster.
Parade was a competitor from another Sunday supplement, Family Weekly, which was renamed USA Weekend after its acquisition by The Gannett Company, publisher of USA Today, in 1985. In the aftermath of the acquisition, 123 papers turned into Parade and 13 other papers owned by Gannett, turned into USA Weekend.
In the San Diego market, the afternoon paper “San Diego Tribune” decided to distribute USA Weekend, while “The San Diego Union” continued to take Parade. Mr. Vittorini recalled meeting Helen Copley, the proprietor of the paper, and telling her that he preferred to be exclusively parade in all his markets. He warned her that he would stop distributing it at The Union if she didn’t quit USA Weekend from The Tribune.
He wrote in his unpublished diary: “She said to me somewhat arrogantly, ‘Young man, how dare you tell me how to run my newspaper! ‘” And as politely as possible, I replied, “Mrs. Copley, I promise I won’t tell you how to run your newspaper if you don’t tell me how to run mine. Success: USA Weekend is dropped.”
Carlo Vittorini was born on February 28, 1929, in Philadelphia and raised in Haverford, Pennsylvania. His father, Domenico, an Italian immigrant, was a professor of Romance Languages at the University of Pennsylvania. His mother, Helen (Whitney) Vittorini, a housewife, had met her future husband when she took one of his classes.
Carlo graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1950 with a BA in English. He began his career in syndication, then became marketing director at The Saturday Evening Post in 1956 and sales representative at Look magazine in 1958. For twelve years, beginning in 1965, he worked at Redbook magazine, rising to publisher and president.
In 1977 he was appointed President of the Charter Company’s group of magazines, which included Redbook, Ladies’ Home Journal, and Sport magazine. A year later, he was hired to start a new magazine division at Toronto-based Harlequin Enterprises, which is best known for publishing romance novels.
After about one year at Harlequin, Mr. Vittorini was offered the job at Parade by Mr. Newhouse, whose company also published Vogue, Glamor, House & Garden, and other magazines. Mr. Vittorini said that Mr. Newhouse had handed him a folder of three rings of notes he had made on Parade over the three years since he had obtained the advanced publications.
Mr. Vittorini said in his diary: “That evening, when I read his notes, I realized that, despite his acumen in the field of traditional journals, though he knew there was a problem, he was missing the solution to this unorthodox journal of circulation.”
Mr. Vittorini said Parade’s unsurprising results quickly improved, in part because he got more newspapers to distribute the magazine, which helped push up advertising rates.
Tell the editor and publisher In 1999: “We had some very basic goals, and it started with improving the product, both intellectually and physically. There was a need to improve relations with newspapers, and we did that. Advertising revenue came with it.”
In addition to his wife, Mr. Vittorini is survived by his son, Stephen; his daughter, Lynne Vaughan; his stepdaughter, Ashley Frisbie; his protégé, Frank Coleman; and five grandchildren. His marriage to Alice Hillerman ended in divorce.