Tiger Beat founder Charles Laufer dies at 87
Charles Laufer, 87, who built a publishing career with youth-oriented fan magazines such as Tiger Beat, died April 5 at a hospital in Los Angeles. The cause of death was not reported.
A journalism graduate from the University of Southern California, Mr. Laufer was teaching at Excelsior High School in nearby Norwalk in the 1950s when he came up with the idea for a magazine, called Coaster, aimed at students.
He changed the name of Coaster to Teen, and that magazine led Mr. Laufer to launch his signature publication, Tiger Beat, in 1965. He started several other magazines before selling the company in 1978. He built his success on such teen heartthrobs as Bobby Sherman and David Cassidy, as well as the Beatles and the Monkees.
A 1971 Los Angeles Times article described Mr. Laufer’s staff covering every move by Cassidy, then star of the television series “The Partridge Family,” and producing “about 15 David Cassidy stories a month and sentences that almost always end with an exclamation mark (David ordered a steak!).”
Robert Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, said magazines such as Tiger Beat are “really quite sweet ways for people to indulge in their interests, in their crushes, with lots of glossy pictures to tape to the walls of their rooms.”
As his father told the Times in 1974: “We provide entertainment. How much does a hot-fudge sundae cost? Seventy-five cents? OK. We give them a package for 75 cents. It’s a hot-fudge sundae.”
“The readers of these magazines, they’re becoming consumers for the first time, falling in love for the first time,” said Charles Laufer’s son, Scott, whose company bought Tiger Beat in 2003 and publishes another magazine for teens, Bop. “We’re trying to make it a positive experience for them. It’s pretty wholesome fun for teenage girls.”
Charles Harry Laufer was born Sept. 13, 1923, in Newark. A standout basketball player at Newark’s Central High School, Mr. Laufer could not serve in the military during World War II because of a heart murmur and a broken leg suffered in a car accident.
He sold Teen but remained its editor until becoming publisher of Tiger Beat. His other magazines included such monthly publications as Rona Barrett’s Hollywood and Gossip.
“The first [magazine] was for love,” Mr. Laufer told the Times in 1980. “Tiger Beat was for money.”