Syd Silverman, Third-Generation Publisher of Variety, Dies at 85

Courtesy Photo
Syd Silverman at Variety's former New York office in the 1970s

He ran the publishing company for more than three decades starting in 1957.

Syd Silverman, the former publisher and owner of the Hollywood trade publications Variety and Daily Variety, died Sunday of "a sudden illness" in Boca Raton, Fla., his family announced. He was 85.

Silverman spent three-plus decades at the helm of Variety Inc. starting in 1957, when it published a weekly edition out of New York and a daily counterpart from Hollywood. His grandfather, Sime Silverman, founded the company in 1905 and ran it until his death in 1933, when his son, Sidne Silverman, took over.

That also was the year that Daily Variety began, three years after the launch of The Hollywood Reporter.

Syd Silverman engineered the sale of the publications to Cahners Publishing, a subsidiary of the U.K.'s Reed International, in 1987. Variety Inc. is now owned by Penske Media.

An an only child, Silverman was raised in Harrison, N.Y. His mother, Marie Saxon, was a vaudevillian, musical comedy star and dancer who starred in the movies The Broadway Hoofer (1929) at Columbia and Under Suspicion (1930) at Fox.

By the time he was 18, both his parents had died, leaving him as the sole heir to Variety. He graduated with a degree in political science from Princeton University in 1954 and then served in the U.S. Army.

After leaving Variety, Silverman was twice an owner/investor in the Sportscar Vintage Racing Assn., one of the largest historic racing groups in the U.S., and made Vintage Motorsport into the leading magazine in the hobby. He also was a noted collector and driver of historic racing cars.

Survivors include his wife Joan, children Marie, Michael, Mark and Matthew and eight grandchildren. His first wife of more than 40 years, Jan, died in 1997.

For information about a service at the McMahon Funeral Home in White Plains, N.Y., please call (914) 949-7777.