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Judith Glassman Daniels

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Judith Glassman Daniels (AP Photo / Smith College, Jim Gipe)
UNION, Maine (AP) — Judith Glassman Daniels, who blazed a trail for women in the publishing world and became the first woman to serve as top editor of Life magazine, has died at the age of 74.

Daniels served in senior editing positions at The Village Voice, New York magazine, Time Inc. and Conde Naste over a career that spanned 35 years in New York before she retired with her husband to Maine in 2004. She died Sunday from stomach cancer at their home in Union, said her husband, Lee Webb.

During her career, Daniels oversaw creation of a magazine for executive women called Savvy at a time when magazines catered to stay-at-home moms, and she helped to found the Women's Media Group in New York. At Life, she oversaw the publication's 50th anniversary.

Her husband called her "a real pioneer."

"She really was one of the women who broke the glass ceiling that allowed women to rise high in the publishing world," Webb said from their home on Tuesday.

Daniels was born in Cambridge, Mass., and was raised in Brookline, Mass. She set off for New York after getting her English degree from Smith College, rising through the ranks in magazines.

Patricia O'Toole, who worked for Daniels as a writer and editor at Savvy, said Daniels was naturally curious and loved writing and editing. And writers loved to work for her, she said.

"Everybody wanted to please Judy," said O'Toole, a biographer and professor in New York. "Sometimes when there's a boss like that it's because they have to please them because otherwise there's going to be hell to pay. But Judy wasn't like that at all. You wanted to please her because she was such a good coach. She had very high editorial standards, and she'd help you measure up."

John MacMillan, editorial director at Smith College, where Daniels was a longtime member of the Smith Alumnae Council, called Daniels a "change-maker" who was helped the next generation of women get ahead.

"She was thinking about the issues facing successful professional women long before they were trendy, like work-life balance and the pressure that women face to get ideas heard," he said. "She was thinking about those way back in the 1970s and '80s."

Daniels and Webb had ties to Maine before moving to the state permanently.

Daniels became active in the Maine Women's Policy Center, the Women's Lobby and the Maine Humanities Council. She also served as chairwoman of Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockport.

The family is planning an October memorial service, Webb said.


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