David Puttnam and Boxer’s London Life

The weekly London LIfe in October 1965 under Mark Boxer

Duffy shot this cover of Vidal Sassoon with the French fashion designer Emanuel Ungaro for London Life in October 1965 under Mark Boxer. Note the very unusual typography for the cover masthead design

Vidal Sassoon and Emanuel Ungaro, shot by Duffy, 1965

Perusing the biography David Puttnam: The Story So Far by Andrew Yule, I came across a section about his work on the weekly listings magazine London Life, which was developed to replace Tatler, in the 1960s.

The book describes how Puttnam, who as a film-maker would go on to have hits with Midnight ExpressThe Killing Fields and Chariots of Fire , was temporarily loaned out to the Thompson Organisation by his employers, the advertising agency Collett Dickenson Pearce (CDP), as managing editor on the magazine.

It should have been a dream team – David Hillman on design, Duffy, Donovan and Bailey as photographic advisers, and Jean Shrimpton as a guest fashion editor, all under editor Mark Boxer, who in 1962 had launched the Sunday Times Colour Supplement – which became the Sunday Times Magazine and formed a symbiotic relationship with CDP. Unfortunately, the assignment turned into a ‘nightmare’ as the launch of London Life ‘ran aground’ because of corporate politics.

The situation turned farcical as the weekly editorial budget of £1200 was cut three weeks before the magazine started functioning to £750. [Puttnam] became convinced that the whole assignment was a political set-up to ‘get’ Mark Boxer, then a great friend and confidant of Denis Hamilton, editor of the Sunday Times and managing director of the Thompson Group, to whom Boxer was seen by many as a threatening heir-apparent. [Puttnam] at one point was even asked to go in and give evidence that Boxer, of whom he was very fond, ‘was showing signs of clinical paranoia’. It was back to CDP, sadder and wiser…

London Life – ‘a comprehensive guide to the entertainment scene: films, theatre, restaurants, night life, music, sport’ – did come out but was hellishly expensive to run and by autumn 1966 Boxer had been replaced by Ian Howard with Tony Page as art editor. After several redesigns it folded in 1967. Boxer would go on to become editorial director at Condé Nast – and for a rejuvenated Tatler as a monthly.

London Life was printed by Sun Printers, Watford, with the covers produced by East Midland Litho in Peterborough. It was published every Thursday from Elm House, 10-16 Elm St, London WC1.

London Life profile at Magforum

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One Response to “David Puttnam and Boxer’s London Life”

  1. London Life prices go through the roof | Magforum blog Says:

    […] music, sport’; a Time Out for the Swinging Sixties. It’s usually the earlier issues of London Life under editor Mark Boxer that fetch such high […]

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