Otis Chandler, the former publisher of the Los Angeles Times who transformed his family's provincial, conservative newspaper into a respected national media voice, died Feb. 27 in Ojai, Calif. He was 78. He had been suffering from a degenerative brain disorder known as Lewy body disease.
Chandler was the scion of a family that wielded financial and political power in the Los Angeles area for decades. As publisher, he spent most of his career chafing against what he sensed was an East Coast bias against Los Angeles and fought to elevate the Times to a par with Eastern rivals.
With his blond hair, weightlifter physique and love of surfing and cars, Chandler was a quintessential Californian of his generation.
He was an avid hunter and car collector, and displayed many of his trophies at his Vintage Museum of Transportation and Wildlife in Oxnard, Calif.
Chandler resigned as the paper's publisher in 1980 following 20 years at the helm. He remained mostly quiet about the paper's operation after he left as chairman and editor in chief in 1985. But he returned as a newsroom hero in 2000 to publicly chide the paper's management, which he blamed for a scandal involving an advertising arrangement with the Staples Center and severe cost-cutting that damaged its reputation. It was later revealed that the paper split about $2 million in advertising revenue from the magazine with the arena.
Soon after, the Chandler Family Trust sold newspaper parent company Times Mirror Co. to the Tribune Co.
Otis Chandler was the son of Times publisher Norman Chandler and great-grandson of Times founder Harrison Gray Otis.
His mother was Dorothy Chandler, the philanthropist and arts patron who led a campaign in the 1950s to save the financially troubled Hollywood Bowl and a drive to build a permanent home for the Los Angeles Philharmonic--the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
Chandler was groomed from an early age to take control of the family's newspaper. He worked as a printer's apprentice, reporter and in the advertising and circulation departments. He succeeded his father as publisher in 1960 at age 33.
Chandler moved the paper away from its conservative reputation, hired more reporters, raised salaries, opened overseas bureaus and beefed up the paper's coverage of Washington.
Chandler also expanded the reach of Times Mirror, starting a news service with the Washington Post and acquiring newspapers, television stations and other media outlets.
Chandlers efforts resulted in the Times winning seven Pulitzer prizes during his tenure.
In addition to his wife Bettina, survivors include sons Harry and Michael and daughters Carolyn Chandler and Cathleen Chandler.