A Memorial Celebration for Clay Felker

Last night, at the New York Society for Ethical Culture, a memorial celebration was held for the late and great magazine editor Clay Felker. It was hosted by his wife Gail Sheehy and New York Magazine. Over 500 of Clay’s friends and past co-workers attended a two hour tribute to the man who was referred to as “The founding father of the new journalism”; a visionary editor who was widely credited with inventing the formula for the modern magazine.

David Frost was the “Master of Ceremonies” and he introduced to the audience a number of Clay’s friends who spoke glowingly about the man and what it was like to work with him. The speakers included Adam Moss, Milton Glazer, Tom Wolfe, Gloria Steinman, Leslie Stahl, Tom Baer, and Michael Kramer among other well known personalities.

I knew Clay from my days back in 1985 when I was marketing director for The East Side Express, a weekly newspaper that was published in Manhattan and was edited by him. It was an experience I will never forget. I was amazed at Clay’s ability to surround himself with the most talented and creative editors and writers in the industry. Many of the same writers who worked on that newspaper went on to make even bigger names for themselves in other magazines.

Clay was especially fond of working with and inspiring young writers. He had a wonderful gift for motivating them to believe in themselves and their abilities. He was a great teacher who taught for many years at UC Berkeley. In his honor, the Felker Magazine Center at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism was established.

In an especially bittersweet and moving moment, the singer Judy Collins sang “Amazing Grace” to end the tribute. Then, led by the music of David Ostwald’s Louis Armstrong Band, we all marched out of the hall and on to the street.

-Ernest Schmatolla



Ernest Schmatolla is publisher of Lookonline since 1994. It is the longest running fashion site on the Internet.

1 Comment
  1. As an inspiring journalist, I must say my regards to such an influential man! I’m glad he was recognized with enormous admiration. I’m going to research more of his work and the journalism classes at Berkeley.

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