George Joseph Hecht (November 1, 1895 – April 23, 1980) was the
founder and publisher of Parents magazine and owner of FAO Schwarz. He
is often credited with creating the parenting advice industry through
his many publications.
Life and career
Hecht was born in
New York City
New York City in 1895 in a home that once stood on
the site of Radio City. He attended the
Ethical Culture School
Ethical Culture School and
Cornell University in 1917. With the outbreak of World
War I, he became volunteer head of the financial department of New
York's office of the
American Ambulance Field Service
American Ambulance Field Service and worked as a
civilian for various war-related efforts, such as promoting the sale
Liberty Bonds and conducting research for the War Trade Board. He
became head of the Bureau of Cartoons, encouraging cartoonists to
publish work in support of the war effort, and he published a
collection of war cartoons titled The War in Cartoons. Although he
United States Army
United States Army as a private in 1918, he was not called
to active service.
After the war, Hecht edited Better Times, a monthly social welfare
publication, which he turned into an influential weekly representing
two thousand private and public charitable agencies. In 1925, he
organized the Welfare Council of New York City. In 1938, he became
founding secretary of the Greater New York Fund, which eventually
United Way of New York.
Concerned about a lack of resources on parenting, Hecht received
funding from the
Laura Spelman Rockefeller
Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Foundation to
launch Parents magazine in September 1926. It quickly became the most
widely circulated magazine dedicated to parenting in the world,
leading Hecht to launch a variety of other journals aimed at parents
and children, including The Boy's and Girl's Newspaper, Your New Baby,
Children's Digest, and Humpty Dumpty, which became the most popular
children's magazine in the United States.
In 1963, Hecht expanded his interest in children and toys by having
Parents magazine purchase
FAO Schwarz from the Schwarz family. He
expanded the New York toy store nationwide by opening sixteen branches
before selling the company in 1970. Hecht sponsored a training course
Santa Claus impersonators at the toy store.
Hecht served as chairman of Child Welfare League of America,
established and chaired the American Parents Committee in 1947, and
chaired the National Committee on the Observance of Mother's Day. He
advocated for various acts of federal legislation related to children
and education, including the
National Defense Education Act
National Defense Education Act of 1958.
Hecht also philanthropically supported programs related to world
Hecht died in 1980 at the age of 84. He was named one of the "100 Most
Notable Cornellians" in 2003.
^ George Joseph Hecht: A Lifelong Commitment to Children. Parents
Magazine Press. 1975.
^ Bender, Marylin (1964-09-07). "Toy Store's Philosophy Is Tender
Loving Care". The New York Times. New York, New York. Retrieved
^ Altschuler, Glenn C.; Isaac Kramnick; R. Laurence Moore (2003). The
100 Most Notable Cornellians. Ithaca, N.Y.:
Cornell University Press.