Arthur Gelb, New York Times editor and critic

by | Jun 2, 2014 | Obituaries

Arthur Gelb, a former arts critic and managing editor for The New York Times, has died.

Gelb, who worked at the newspaper for 45 years, died Tuesday, May 20 in his native Manhattan following a stroke. He was 90.

The Times in its obituary the day after Gelb’s passing said he was an incisive arts critic who covered a wide range of theater productions. Later, as an editor, he pursued investigative stories and expanded the newspaper’s science, sports, dining, home and magazine sections. He had started at the Times as a copy boy.

The son of Jewish immigrants from Czechoslovakia and Ukraine, Gelb worked at the Times from 1944 until his retirement at 1989. Following his Times tenure, he and his wife, Barbara, wrote two books on playwright Eugene O’Neill.

In 1970, Gelb broke a story exposing widespread police corruption in New York City. He also pointed reporters to stories ranging from exposing the Jewish heritage of a leading American Nazi to Queens taxi drivers paying off inspectors.

The obituary cited Gelb as a mentor to several current or recent prominent Times writers. It said that “by sheer force of personality he was a dominant figure at The New York Times for decades.” (JTA)