Peter W. Kaplan

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Peter W. Kaplan
Peter Kaplan.jpg
Peter Wennik Kaplan

February 10, 1954
DiedNovember 29, 2013(2013-11-29) (aged 59)
Alma materHarvard University
OccupationNewspaper editor
FamilyJames Kaplan (brother)

Peter Wennik Kaplan (February 10, 1954 – November 29, 2013[1]) was an American[2] editor known for modernizing New Journalism for the digital age. He was the editor-in-chief of the New York Observer, a weekly newspaper, for 15 years. The Kingdom of New York, an anthology of articles from the famously pink paper, was co-edited by Kaplan.[3]

In 2010, he worked as the editorial director of Fairchild Publications' Fairchild Fashion Group, where he helped oversee the relaunch of M, a men's magazine, and oversaw Women's Wear Daily, Footwear News, Menswear, the newly formed Fairchild books division, and other ventures.[4][5]

Early life and education[edit]

Kaplan was born to a Jewish family[6] in South Orange, New Jersey, the son of Roberta (née Wennik) and Robert Edward Kaplan.[7] Both his parents were from New York City. His mother was a psychotherapist and his father was the owner and president of clothing manufacturer Complex Industries Corp.[2][8] While at Columbia High School he joined the newspaper, The Columbian. He had two brothers, the writer James Kaplan and Rob Kaplan, an entertainment executive and business owner. He went on to obtain his degree from Harvard University[2] in 1976. His college roommate was Robert Kennedy, Jr., son of late Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.[9][10][11]


Kaplan with Jared Kushner, then owner of the New York Observer

Kaplan's early career started at The New York Times, Esquire and Manhattan, inc. magazine where he served under both editors, Jane Amsterdam and Clay Felker.

In the early 1990s he served as an editorial director at Conde Nast Traveler and a producer at The Charlie Rose Show. He then served as editor-in-chief of the New York Observer, from 1994 to 2009.

At the Observer, Kaplan worked with the following writers:

  • Gossip columnist Frank DiGiacomo
  • New York Times editor Alexandra Jacobs
  • New Yorker staff writer Nick Paumgarten
  • Choire Sicha, the founder of The Awl
  • Candace Bushnell—whose column "Sex and the City," which Kaplan named himself, became a pop culture sensation even as the paper that printed it remained relatively obscure.[12]
  • Gabriel Sherman, the media reporter who chronicled Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes' affect on presidential politics in his book, "The Loudest Voice in the Room." Sherman is now national affairs editor at New York magazine.[13]

Media appearances[edit]

On November 6, 2009, Kaplan appeared on The Charlie Rose Show, where he discussed the future of newspapers with regards to the Internet and mobile devices such as the Amazon Kindle, and Apple's iPad.[14]

Two former editors from the New York Observer, Peter Stevenson and Jim Windolf, turned Kaplan into a Twitter character with two personalities, "Wise Kaplan" and "Cranky Kaplan," followed by insiders in the New York journalism community.[15]


He died of cancer in New York City on November 29, 2013, according to his second wife, Lisa Chase,[16] an editor at Elle. The couple had a son named Davey.[17] His first marriage was to Audrey Walker; they had three children: Caroline, Charlie and Peter Kaplan.[2][16] Services were held at the Larchmont Temple.[6]


  1. ^ "Peter Kaplan, Who Brought a Cutting Edge to The New York Observer, Dies at 59, The New York Times, November 29, 2013. Retrieved: November 29, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d Feitelberg, Rosemary (1 December 2013). "Fairchild's Peter W. Kaplan: An Editor's Editor". WWD. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  3. ^ Harper Collins, The Kingdom of New York by The New York Observer, accessed November 6, 2009.
  4. ^ New York Post, Kaplan goes to Fairchild, written 15 July 2010, accessed 27 August 2010.
  5. ^ "Fairchild Biography".
  6. ^ a b New York Times: "At Peter Kaplan’s Funeral, Mourning the Master of the Masters" by David Carr December 3, 2013
  7. ^ New York Times: "Paid Notice: Deaths KAPLAN, ROBERTA WENNIK" April 21, 2010
  8. ^ Lee, Edmund. "Peter W. Kaplan, Who Made News From New York’s Rich, Dies at 59", Bloomberg News, November 30, 2013. Accessed December 1, 2013. "Peter Wennik Kaplan was born on Feb. 10, 1954, in South Orange, New Jersey. . His father, Robert, was owner and President of Complex Industries, Corp, a New York based clothing firm. His mother, Roberta Wennik, was a psychotherapist with a doctorate in social work. Kaplan grew up in northern New Jersey, making the occasional trip to New York."
  9. ^ Heller, Nathan (30 November 2013). "Postscript: Peter Kaplan". The New Yorker. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
  10. ^ Leibovich, Mark (25 June 2006). "Another Kennedy Living Dangerously". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
  11. ^ DiGiacomo, Frank (13 December 2013). "Final Thoughts on Legendary Editor Peter Kaplan". The Hive. Vanity Fair. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
  12. ^ "The Chronicler of the Kingdom of New York: Peter Kaplan 1954-2013" The New York Observer, November 30, 2013. Retrieved: November 30, 2013.
  13. ^ "Gabriel Sherman - about "Gabriel Sherman's official website." Retrieved: August 14, 2015
  14. ^, Peter Kaplan Guest Page Archived 2010-12-21 at the Wayback Machine, accessed 19 February 2011.
  15. ^ The genius of the Wise and Cranky Kaplan Twitter feeds, "", Updated November 30, 2013
  16. ^ a b Matthews, Karen (November 30, 2013). "Ex-New York Observer editor Kaplan dies at 59". Comcast Entertainment News. Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  17. ^ Heller, Nathan. "The Cranky Wisdom of Peter Kaplan, New Republic, September 14, 2012. Retrieved on July 30, 2013.

External links[edit]