Frances Lear, the former wife of TV producer Norman Lear who used her sizable divorce settlement to found a women’s magazine called Lear’s and later Lear Television, died Monday. She was 73.
Lear died in her Manhattan home of breast cancer, according to her son-in-law, Jonathan La Pook.
Lear’s magazine, which prided itself on serving “the woman who wasn’t born yesterday,” burst on the national publishing scene Feb. 23, 1988.
It was the dream of Frances Lear who had arrived in New York on Halloween Day, 1985, eager to create a magazine for the woman over 40 with some money who might be re-entering the job market after divorce or rearing children - a woman like herself.
She bankrolled the new publication with the estimated $100 to $125 million she received after her 28-year marriage to Norman Lear. She personally supervised production of Lear’s and in each issue penned a lunch-and-chat interview with a mature female celebrity.
“I believed a magazine could hold up a mirror for women over 40 and raise their self-image,” she said.
“Lear’s made older women visible in a culture that overlooked them.”
The magazine’s circulation peaked at 503,000 in 1993 but it was plagued with advertising difficulties.
As stunning as the magazine’s birth was its death at its creator’s own hand. On March 10, 1994, Lear announced that Lear’s would cease publication after the April issue.
Instead, she said, she would put her energy and money into Lear’s Television. She went on to produce a video to help successful women manage their money.