Betty Hannah Hoffman

Monday January 27, 2014 - 10:18:00 PM
Betty Hannah Hoffman: 1918-2014
Betty Hannah Hoffman: 1918-2014

Betty Hannah Hoffman, a retired executive editor of Cosmopolitan, and the only authorized biographer of Lucille Ball, died Friday at her home in Pacific Grove, CA. She was 96.

Ms. Hoffman, a pioneering journalist, was a 1939 cum laude graduate of Smith College in sociology. She edited the Smith yearbook and literary magazine, and Betty Friedan was on her staff. Following graduation, she served as a guest managing editor of Mademoiselle's first college issue. Ms. Hoffman then joined the Ladies Home Journal, where she rose to become associate editor. She wrote a series of articles on Joan and Ted Kennedy, and traveled with them on the campaign trail. The magazine enjoyed a circulation of 7 million, and she wrote two of the Journal's most popular long running columns, "Can This Marriage be Saved" and “How America Lives." Ms. Hoffman covered a wide swath of American life, from a coal mining family in Harlan County, Kentucky to the opulent Vanderbilt family estate. After working at the Ladies Home Journal, she served as the executive editor of Cosmopolitan under Helen Gurley Brown, and was head of press relations for the University of California system. She lived in Berkeley for about 20 years, between 1965 and 1985.  

Ms. Hoffman authored half a dozen books, including child development books with Erik Erikson and Berry Brazelton. She also authored a biography of Arthur Murray, and a best selling biography of Lucille Ball titled "Love Lucy."

Ms. Hoffman, a native of Essex Fells, New Jersey, is survived by three children, Clem of La Jolla, Bruce of Santa Cruz, Nell of Portland, and seven grandchildren. Her husband, Robert, a retired lawyer, died in March 2013 at age 96.