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Simon & Schuster's Korda to step down

November 03, 2005|From Associated Press

New York — MICHAEL Korda, publishing's master raconteur and an institution as editor of Richard Nixon, Larry McMurtry, David McCullough and countless others, will relinquish his full-time position at Simon & Schuster, the publisher announced Wednesday.

"After 47 years, I felt it was time to get off the stage, or at least into the wings," Korda, 72, said in an interview.

After stepping down as editor in chief at the end of the year, he will hold the title of editor in chief emeritus and continue to edit McCullough, Mary Higgins Clark and others, but otherwise will concentrate on his own books.

Since joining Simon & Schuster in 1958, he has had a remarkable career in publishing, notable for the time spent with just one company and for the people he has worked with, whether former presidents such as Nixon and Reagan, Pulitzer Prize winners such as McCullough and McMurtry, or brand names such as Jacqueline Susann and Harold Robbins.

As his own books have proved, including "Charmed Lives" and "Another Life," he is also a born storyteller with enviable material.

As the son of English actress Gertrude Musgrove and the nephew of film impresario Alexander Korda, he grew up around artists and celebrities, including Vivien Leigh, David Selznick and Graham Greene, whom he later edited.

"Michael combines European sophistication, show business glamour, a well-trained intellect and a deep regard and respect for the text to remarkable effect," said a statement issued Wednesday by Simon & Schuster. "He is one of the few in our industry who has forged an identity outside Publisher's Row, becoming a well-known public figure in his own right."

Korda has had health problems in recent years, including prostate cancer and a heart attack, but has remained active as an editor and a writer. He and wife Margaret have just published two books, "Horse Housekeeping" and "Cat People," and he is planning a "big, big" biography of Dwight D. Eisenhower and a work on the Battle of Britain.

"I know plenty of people who think the magic in publishing is gone, but I don't," he said.

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