Stuart, Lyle 1922-2006
STUART, Lyle 1922-2006
See index for CA sketch: Born August 11, 1922, in New York, NY; died of heart failure, June 24, 2006, in Englewood, NJ. Publisher and author. Stuart was a controversial publisher whose companies released such notorious titles as The Anarchist Cookbook, The Sensuous Woman, Ordeal, and Naked Came a Stranger. Born Lionel Simon to a humble New York City family, he knew tragedy early when, as a boy of six, his father committed suicide. Dropping out of high school, he joined the merchant marine. Here, he was subjected to anti-Semitism that led him to change his name to Stuart in an attempt to hide his Jewish background. Stuart decided to go into journalism, and he got his start as a reporter for a news service in 1945. He would go on to work for Variety and was an editor for the magazine Music Business in the late 1940s. Stuart began his first forays into controversial writing when he founded the monthly newspaper Expose (later renamed the Independent). He left after only a year to join MAD magazine as its business manager. He also contributed to journalist Walter Winchell's newspaper column. The two had a disagreement about how Winchell made fun of singer Josephine Baker using racial slurs; this prompted Stuart to attack Winchell with his book The Secret Life of Walter Winchell (1953). The two continued to feud for several years until Winchell sued Stuart for libel. Stuart, however, won the case and a settlement of eight thousand dollars. He used the money to found his publishing company Lyle Stuart, Inc. It was here that he would publish most of his controversial titles. Stuart had no qualms about bringing books to the public that many would find offensive or even dangerous. One of the works that would fall into the latter category was 1970's The Anarchist Cookbook, a work that explained to readers how to build bombs and blow up public buildings. Later, under his Barricade Books company, he would release The Turner Diaries (1996), a book written by a white supremacist that was filled with racist propaganda and was used as a guide by Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. Stuart justified publishing such works by saying it helped audiences understand how dangerous criminals thought. He also published sexually explicit books such as Ordeal, written by porn star Linda Lovelace, and Naked Came a Stranger (1969), which was purportedly written by Penelope Ashe. It was later revealed, however, that Ashe was just played by an actress and the book was actually written by the staff of Newsday. Other books, such as Jackie Oh! by Kitty Kelly and Inside the FBI, a biography of J. Edgar Hoover, were also considered scandalous. Many of Stuart's peers in the industry considered him crazy, while others felt he was brave to publish books others would not touch. Selling his first company, Lyle Stuart, Inc., in 1989 for twelve million dollars, he set up Barricade Books the next year. Barricade, however, closed its doors in 1997 as a result of a libel suit filed by casino owner Stephen A. Wynn after Stuart released an unauthorized biography. In addition to his book on Winchell, he penned seven other original works, including God Wears a Bow Tie (1949), Mary Louise (1972), and several books on his favorite pastime of gambling, such as Winning at Casino Gambling (1995).
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
Los Angeles Times, June 28, 2006, p. B10.
New York Times, June 26, 2006, p. A21.
Washington Post, June 28, 2006, p. B6.