Skip to main content

World Ex-CEO of Hearst Newspaper Group played ‘pivotal role’ in its operations, began as an office boy

In this July 22, 2004 file photo, Bob Danzig, chief executive officer of Hearst Newspaper Group, holds the hand of one of the newest New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) caseworkers, as he gives the 130 new DYFS hires a pep talk in Trenton, N.J.

Daniel Hulshizer/Associated Press

Robert J. Danzig, who overcame difficult beginnings as a foster child during the Great Depression to become the head of Hearst Newspapers, has died, the company said. He was 85.

Mr. Danzig led the newspaper division at Hearst from 1977 to 1997, overseeing its growth to become the seventh-largest newspaper company in the United States, the company said. He died Wednesday in Cape Cod, Mass., after a long illness.

Story continues below advertisement

Under Mr. Danzig’s leadership, Hearst acquired the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News and several community newspapers. It gained a daily circulation of more than 1.3 million and a Sunday circulation of more than 2.5 million, the company said.

“Bob Danzig played a pivotal role in the dramatic growth of Hearst’s newspaper operations in a career that spanned more than 50 years,” Hearst President and chief executive Steven R. Swartz said. "He was the rarest of executive talent, with equal measures of pragmatism and warmth, and his leadership lessons are part of Hearst’s DNA.”

Mr. Danzig was also a senior Hearst executive, a member of the company’s board of directors.

After his retirement from the company in 1998, he wrote several books about foster children, inspired by his own childhood. Mr. Danzig’s parents divorced during the Great Depression and abandoned him in Albany, N.Y., at the age of 2, Hearst said. He spent the next 14 years in foster care.

“Bob’s contributions to Hearst went beyond the newspaper division,” said Frank A. Bennack Jr., executive vice-chairman and former chief executive of Hearst. “He mentored and encouraged young talent and created opportunities for all who were lucky enough to be taken under his wing. He was also among my longest-serving and most beloved and admired partners.”

Mr. Danzig wrote in a personal reflection that “foster care children often drift through life because there is no force to offer encouragement or guidance.” But he credited several adults for encouraging him to succeed, including a social worker named Mae Morse who told him at the age of 12, “You are worthwhile.”

Mr. Danzig first joined Hearst as an office boy for the Times Union in Albany after graduating high school in 1950. After serving in the Navy during the Korean War, he returned to the newspaper as an ad salesman and attended Sienna College at night, graduating with honours in 1962.

Story continues below advertisement

He often told the story of the Times Union office manager, Margaret Mahoney, who hired him as an office boy. She admonished him for wearing a hat during the interview. He explained to her that he had never had a hat before and didn’t know he was supposed to take it off. She hired him anyway and told him, “I believe you are full of promise,” words he never forgot.

Mr. Danzig rose through the ranks to become publisher of the Times Union and Knickerbocker News and eventually general manager of Hearst’s 6,000-employee news division.

His books on foster children included “Every Child Deserves a Champion” and “There is Only One You.” He donated the proceeds from the books to the Child Welfare League of America, a national charity serving neglected children, Hearst said.

Mr. Danzig is survived by his wife, Dianne, five children and 10 grandchildren. He is also survived by his wife’s three daughters and their children and grandchildren.

Report an error
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter