Backer, George

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BACKER, GEORGE (1902–1974), U.S. publisher, politician, and communal leader. Backer was born in New York. He worked briefly in the family's real estate firm, but devoted himself mainly to politics and the arts. In 1937 and 1938 Backer ran unsuccessfully for Congress as an American Labor Party candidate, and served on the New York City Council. From World War ii he was a leader of the reform wing of New York Democrats, and was closely associated, as friend and political adviser, with W. Averell Harriman. In 1939 Backer purchased the New York Post, became its publisher and editor, and imbued it with a strong liberal outlook. His former wife, Dorothy *Schiff, assumed control of the newspaper after their divorce in 1942. Backer had a deep interest in music and drama, sponsoring theatrical productions and writing plays. His novel Appearance of a Man was published in 1966. Backer's Jewish activities date from the early 1930s when he became alarmed at the rise of Nazism. He visited Germany and Poland in 1933, 1934, and 1936, urging Jews to emigrate, and was active in American organizations aiding refugees. Among the Jewish groups with which he was affiliated are the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, American ort, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, and American Jewish Committee.


New York Times (July 20, 1966).

[Morton Rosenstock]