Mort Gordon, who pivoted from early work as an editor and publisher at Fairchild Publications to a long career as a licensing executive, died Friday in Boca Raton, Fla., at age 87.
The cause was complications from a stroke he suffered about two months ago, according to his daughter, Jennifer Gross.
A native of Philadelphia, Gordon graduated from Temple University with a B.S. in journalism. After service in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, he returned to Philadelphia and began his publishing career as a reporter in Fairchild’s Philadelphia bureau. He was soon brought to Fairchild’s headquarters in New York, where he would progress through the editorial ranks of the company’s men’s wear newspaper, Daily News Record, and eventually become its coeditor, sharing management responsibilities with Herbert Blueweiss. Blueweiss later became editor, and subsequently publisher, of DNR, and Gordon editor of Fairchild’s Men’s Wear magazine. The extroverted Gordon became the publisher of Men’s Wear several years later.
From Fairchild, Gordon moved directly into the fashion business as president of Bill Kaiserman before joining Playboy Enterprises in 1980 as senior vice president of licensing. He formed his own licensing company, Mort Gordon Enterprises, in 1983, and continued to operate the business until shortly before he died.
He was active in several industry organizations, including the YMA, which awarded him its AMY Award.
Marvin Lord, a former Oxford Industries executive and close friend of Gordon’s, said, “He was always looking for the next deal. He loved to live — it’s a tough loss.”
“He kept a really nice atmosphere in the newsroom, never backbiting or uptight, and he was always helpful to young reporters,” noted Mary Lois Adshead, who worked as a secretary and later reporter for Gordon and Blueweiss. “He was very tuned into life, seriously interested in people and the industry we covered. He was just a very nice, dependable guy with a great personality and a tremendous zest for life.”
In a blog written as DNR prepared to cease publication in 2008, Adshead wrote, “Mort Gordon was tall, smart and sexy while Herb Blueweiss was short, balding, hyper and sometimes enigmatic. Herb liked to read and attend the theater…and Mort, a bachelor [at the time], was content to attend industry functions and do as much skirt-chasing as time allowed. The two worked so well in tandem that they were referred to by the staff as The Bobbsey Twins.”
Sandy Josephson, who was named editor of DNR after Gordon became publisher of Men’s Wear, remembered him as someone who rose above the pressures of the publishing and men’s wear businesses.
“You never saw Mort get angry,” Josephson said. “He kept things loose and very social. He was outgoing but always conducted himself in a laid-back way, with a true sense of joie de vivre.”
In a tribute on his Facebook page, Gerald Andersen, a former DNR furnishings editor who later headed the Neckwear Association of America, commented, “To a Jersey City kid new to the world of New York City, he was the epitome of suave and sophistication.”
In addition to his daughter Jennifer, Gordon is survived by another daughter, Heather Gordon, as well as three grandchildren and his longtime partner, Nina Krevlin. His two marriages ended in divorce.
A memorial service will be held on Friday, Feb. 6 at 10:30 a.m. at Westchester Reform Temple, 255 Mamaroneck Road, Scarsdale, N.Y. There will be no graveside ceremony, according to Gross.