A relisher of wealth and its opportunities, the son of Forbes founder B.C. Forbes, and his eventual successor as the magazine publisher, practiced what he fervently believed, and did so unabashedly.
Malcolm Forbes flew balloons, rode and collected motorcycles, threw lavish parties and had a solid sense of news. In the 1970s, Frank Lalli, on a suggestion from Mr. Forbes, started reporting and researching "Who Owns New York?" The result: a stunning cover that revealed who owned New York City real estate. It won a National Magazine Award.
Yet Mr. Forbes, who died in March 1990, pretty much let staffers run the magazine. Wayne Welch, who worked for Mr. Forbes in the 1960s, one of dozens of distinguished Forbes alumni, said of his boss: "Malcolm was an ideal publisher. He made lots of money and let the editorial side alone."
How true. As alumnus Steve Quickel wrote of him: "Malcolm did turn Forbes into a huge business success, but not by sacrificing editorial integrity on the cross of commerce."
With longtime editor James W. Michaels as his intellectual powerhouse, Mr. Forbes executed terrific lists, such as the 400 richest Americans, and started giving Fortune a competitive race. He did nothing less than push Forbes from a little magazine to a force in U.S. business journalism, and he did it laughing all the way.
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