Andre Laguerre, managing editor of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED from 1960 to 1974, died of a heart attack last Thursday, Jan. 18, at the age of 63. For the last three years, until his retirement on Jan. 1, he had been editor and publisher of Classic, a bimonthly magazine he founded in 1975, but he was best known in journalistic circles for his long and distinguished career as a writer and editor with Time Inc.
Laguerre joined the company in 1946 as a European correspondent and later became chief of the TIME-LIFE news bureaus in Paris and London (for a time he ran both simultaneously, commuting back and forth). He had been a French soldier in World War II, taking part in the evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk. Back in England, where he had worked as a newspaperman before the war, he became press officer for General Charles de Gaulle and the Free French. After the war de Gaulle offered him a similar post with the new French government, but Laguerre returned to journalism. In postwar Paris, while covering international affairs for TIME and LIFE, he occasionally wrote sports stories for the Paris Herald-Tribune under the rather mystifying nom de plume of Eddie Snow.
His interest in sports led him in 1956 to cover the Winter Olympic Games in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, and his bylined stories from Cortina were a major part of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's coverage of the games. Three months later, in May 1956, Henry Luce brought him to New York to become an assistant managing editor of the magazine.
To some it seemed a radical step to make a European (and a Frenchman, at that) an editor of an American sports magazine. But Laguerre was a cosmopolite, as much at home in America as he was abroad. He had lived for years in San Francisco, where his father had been in the French diplomatic service, and he was on familiar terms with American sports.
Laguerre was named managing editor of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED in May 1960, and under his direction the magazine more than doubled its circulation. There is a recurring story that this came about because Laguerre changed our editorial approach from "country club" to "hard sport." But SPORTS ILLUSTRATED had long been paying close attention to the major sports. What Laguerre did was bring a high level of coherence and organization to the magazine's operation and appearance. He instituted a system of departmental editors, redesigned the internal format of the magazine, emphasized the importance of fast-closing news stories each week and fostered the unprecedented use in a newsmagazine of full-color photographic coverage of the week's sports events. He was also one of the first to sense the rise of national interest in professional football and give full attention to that burgeoning sport.
He was a strong editor and a powerful personality. No one else ever served as long as managing editor of a Time Inc. publication. We shall miss him.