Penguin Random House: Sixties & Seventies Bantam Editorial Director Marc Jaffe Celebrates His 100th Birthday

This year, we lost many of the foundational individuals who made our imprints and predecessor companies exceptional. So, it is a treat to report the thrilling longevity of a former colleague seminal to establishing Bantam Books as the most formidable mass-market paperback publisher of the sixties and seventies: Marc Jaffe.

Mr. Jaffe celebrated his 100th birthday Saturday, November 6.

According to the Berkshire Eagle, to whom he granted a recent interview from his long-time home in Williamstown, Mass., he remains sharp and engaging, recalling the Bronze Star he was awarded for battlefield combat in Okinawa, and his post-World War II editorial beginnings at the storied Argosy Magazine, discovering an early version of what became the classic novel “Shane,” and at New American Library as a westerns and mystery editor (with Mickey Spillane among his authors).

Mr. Jaffe was with Bantam Books for eighteen years, most of them as Editorial Director, overseeing a bestselling front list and rich backlist of nonfiction and fiction reprints, and later, originals. The New York Times called him “one of the most highly regarded editors in the mass-market field” and “a shrewd judge of mass taste.” He edited works by Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal, who became his good friends, and Louis L’Amour, Bantam’s bestselling author, among dozens of others.

At a 1967 Christmas party, he caught up with a writer acquaintance who told him he had an idea for a novel about a teen-age girl whose mother was desperate for her to be freed from demonic possession. William Peter Blatty worked closely with him as his editor for several years while writing his tale. “The Exorcist,” before and after the movie, sold more than thirteen million copies.

In 1980, Mr. Jaffe made his way to Random House and Ballantine, and later completed his publishing career with his own imprint at Houghton Mifflin. He still does book editing from his home, where he lives with his wife Vivienne.

Mr. Jaffe’s advice, solicited by The Eagle, on living long: “You have to consider people and the world around you. You have to take responsibility for not only yourself, but others. And read a lot.”

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