NEW YORK (AP) _ Hedley Donovan, who succeeded Time Inc. co-founder Henry Luce as editor in chief and later served as an advisor to President Carter, died Monday after a long illness. He was 76.

Donovan died at New York Hospital, Time Warner Inc. said in announcing his death.

Donovan succeeded Luce, who had been Time's only editor in chief, in 1964 after serving as Luce's chief deputy under the title of editorial director for the previous 4 1/2 years.

He retired in 1979, and became a senior, unsalaried advisor to Carter. He spent what many regarded as a disappointing year, and left before the 1980 election.

As editor in chief at Time Inc., Donovan was responsible for the national and international versions of Time, Life, Fortune and Sports Illustrated, which had a combined circulation of more than 13 million in the United States and 50 million worldwide. Time also had book club and book publishing subsidiaries.

Donovan also presided over the growth of Sports Illustrated's popularity, the founding of Money magazine in 1972 and of People two years later and the success of Time-Life books.

Publication of the weekly photo magazine Life was suspended in 1972, but the magazine has since returned as a monthly.

Donovan once said he tried to make Time magazine ''more thoughtful and more fair-minded.'' During his tenure - which included the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal - the magazine became less conservative than under his mentor, a staunch Republican with strong views on communism, China and other subjects.

Donovan enjoyed the access his position afforded him to presidents, popes and a wide range of world figures. The job was ''wonderful,'' Donovan said, ''one in which it is impossible to say, 'This is work and that is fun.'''

''Donovan brought great integrity and a sense of citizenship to everything he did,'' Jason McManus, editor in chief of Time Warner, said Monday.

Donovan was the author of ''From Roosevelt to Reagan: A Reporter's Encounters with Nine Presidents,'' published in 1985, and an autobiography ''Right Places, Right Times: Forty Years in Journalism, Not Counting My Paper Route,'' published in 1989.

Hedley Williams Donovan was born in Brainerd, Minn., to Percy W. Donovan, a mining engineer, and Alice Donovan. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota in 1934. He won a Rhodes scholarship and studied in 1936 at Oxford University, where he was campus correspondent for United Press.

In 1937, he joined The Washington Post, covering fire and police stories and civic meetings. He went on to cover Congress, the State Department and the White House.

He left the Post to serve in Naval Intelligence in World War II, rising to the rank of lieutenant commander. After the war, he joined Fortune magazine, a Time-Life publication.

He was named an associate editor at Fortune in 1951, then managing editor in 1953. He held that post until 1959, when Luce, looking for a potential successor after suffering a serious heart attack, made Donovan editorial director.

Donovan was also a director of the Council on Foreign Relations, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the Trilateral Commission.

He lived in Manhattan and Sands Point, N.Y.

He is survived by two sons and a daughter. His wife, Dorothy, died in 1978.