University Relations

Founder of People Magazine

Dick Durrell, Founder of People Magazine (International Relations)

Article by Tom Larson, News Tribune Staff Writer, Duluth News, Posted August 5, 2003:

Dick Durrell, 78, Founder of People magazine and a college colleague of Minnesota Sports Figures Bud Grand and Jim Malosky, also is a long-time friend of Huskies Owner Bobby McCarthy.

Durrell, a 1948 Minnesota graduate, roomed with Grant when both played for the Gophers basketball team, and Durrell was the baseball team's starting center fielder for two seasons, including on legendary coach Dick Siebert's first team.

The Brooklyn Dodgers offered to sign Durrell after his high school career, but he turned them down to attend college. After a three-year stint in the Marine Corps during World War II he returned to Minnesota

After College, the Dodgers and Chicago Cubs offered to sign him, but at 24 Durrell said he was "too old" for pro ball.

"I was a solid centerfielder, but I was just an average centerfielder in the Big Ten," Durrell said.

Durrell played some semi-pro ball with teams around Minnesota, but bigger things lay ahead in his business ventures.

He worked for Time Inc. – which had Life, Time, Fortune and later Sports Illustrated under its umbrella –in Minneapolis. In 1956, he moved to work for the company's advertising sales department in New York, left for three years to run a private ad firm, then returned to the publishing company in 1962.

In 1973, with Life magazine's run ended, he helped found and operate People, which has been one of the top selling publications worldwide for years.

"It did well," Durrell said, obviously still in command of Midwest understatement. "It's a good mix of celebrities and ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Sometimes weird things."

Durrell, who retired in 1983, still lives in Fairfield, Conn., with his wife of 54 years, Jacky, a five-term mayer of the city and a former state legislator.

He also maintains his live long allegiance to the Boston Red Sox while living in New York Yankee territory. He and McCarthy, a Yankees diehard, fostered their friendship on neutral ground in Vero Beach, Fla.