Malcolm S. Forbes Jr.: Little Resemblance to Flashy Dad
NEW YORK (AP) _ Unlike like his flamboyant, motorcycle-riding father, Malcolm Stevenson Forbes Jr. didn’t give much thought to someday being president of the United States.
Now the 48-year-old magazine editor and multimillionaire, known as Steve, is going after the job his father once hoped to have _ and is willing to surrender his well-guarded privacy. Forbes announced Wednesday that he’ll run for president.
It’s a race that the elder Forbes, who died in 1990 at age 70 of a heart attack, was keen to enter since he was a kid growing up in New Jersey. Instead, Malcolm Sr. went into the family magazine business. He carefully groomed his oldest son to follow in his footsteps.
Born July 18, 1947, Malcolm Jr. was the first of five Forbes children raised on the family’s estate in Somerset County, New Jersey.
His education as a publisher and business mogul began early. Starting at age 13, he accompanied his father on lavish Saturday afternoon excursions to West Point football games on the Highlander, the family yacht. On the trips, the elder Forbes would entertain 50 to 75 corporate chiefs, usually advertisers, and their wives.
Forbes remembers that his father demanded he know the name of every executive on every trip.
`` At an early age we were expected to know, as he would put it, where our bread was buttered,″ Forbes said in a 1990 interview.
Forbes was far from the model student. ``I remember I did so terribly in grade school, I was on the border of being held back,″ he said.
He later attended Princeton, his father’s alma mater. As an undergraduate, Forbes started a magazine called Business Today, which became the country’s largest business magazine published by students. It now has a circulation of 200,000 at more than 100 schools.
Forbes went into the family business after graduating from Princeton in 1970, working on both the business side and as a writer. In 1971, he married Sabina Beekman. They have five children and live in New Jersey.
Forbes became associate editor of the magazine bearing his family name in 1976 and deputy editor-in-chief in 1982.
In the 1980s, Forbes became active on the speaker circuit, and some observers believed he might enter politics _ as his father had. The elder Forbes had presidential aspirations, served in the New Jersey legislature during the 1950s and twice ran for governor.
But his son decided against a life of politics _ until now.
``Because I grew up with a politician, I saw that to be serious about politics, you give up a lot of your privacy,″ Forbes said in 1990. ``Everyone is your boss, every holiday you’re working the events.″
Steve Forbes was his father’s hand-picked successor to run the 78-year-old family magazine empire. In his 61-page will, the father specified that his eldest son would receive 51 percent of the company’s voting stock and become president and chief executive. Forbes’ three brothers also work for the family business; a sister does not.
By 1992, Forbes magazine overcame intense competition from Business Week and Fortune _ and a downturn on Wall Street _ to become the industry leader in advertising pages, an achievement never reached while Forbes Sr. was in charge.
The company has expanded, with two new magazines _ one on lifestyles, the other on business technology _ two foreign language editions and a 250-square-mile Colorado ranch for business meetings. Not every Forbes venture has been a hit. A start-up magazine aimed at the arty crowd and fashioned after Andy Warhol’s Interview folded a few years ago.
Forbes Inc. also owns American Heritage magazine and a chain of 15 suburban weekly newspapers in New Jersey.
Steve Forbes has not shared his father’s love of motorcycles and the high life. Associates describe him as serious and low-key, with a passion for books rather than bikes.
But he continues the family tradition of extravagant entertaining of business associates and advertisers.
The company bankrolls trips to Paris for the chief executives of companies that advertise in Forbes. The Forbes brothers frequently hold lavish parties aboard the Highlander.