Sonia Adler, Founding Editor of Washington Dossier Magazine, Dies at 90

From a Washington Post obit by Louie Estrada headlined “Sonia Adler, founding editor of Washington Dossier, dies at 90”:

Sonia Adler, a social circuit fixture who served as founding editor of the now-defunct society magazine the Washington Dossier, died in Boca Raton, Fla.

Adler was the wife of Warren Adler, who owned a public relations and advertising agency and became a best-selling novelist known for “The War of the Roses,” a dark comedy about divorce. He started the Washington Dossier in 1975 with his son and it became a family operation — with his wife as editor and another son, Jonathan, as advertising director.

Mrs. Adler oversaw coverage of White House state dinners, embassy receptions and cocktail parties, deploying nightly a small team of photographers to capture the well-heeled attendees socializing over drinks and small talk. The publication flourished in an era of lavish entertaining and grew from 16 pages in its earliest editions to 300 pages at its peak in the 1980s.

She received 50 party invitations a week and attended many of the events that the magazine covered. “She lived and breathed that magazine,” David Adler said. “She was very driven, very charming, witty. She was a great connector of people from diverse backgrounds.”

Sonia Kline was born in Manhattan….She graduated from New York University in 1951, and married Warren Adler the following year.

They settled in Washington, where Mrs. Adler worked as a fashion model and freelance photographer. After 12 years of running the Washington Dossier, the Adlers sold the magazine in 1986 to businessman Ronald Haan. It closed four years later.
Also see a 1991 Washington Post story by Charles Trueheart about the closing of Dossier magazine:

Dossier, Washington’s glossy chronicle of high society and diplomatic life, has become the latest casualty of a sinking economy.

The monthly’s staff was told yesterday morning that the March issue will be the 16-year-old Dossier’s last. Magazine President Linda Haan, who owns Dossier with her businessman husband, Ronald Haan, read the assembled editors and business personnel a statement citing the bleak advertising climate and the Haans’ refusal to sacrifice editorial standards to weather the recession.

“We will not compromise quality or value,” Publisher James Causey said. “We choose to go out with our heads held high, with dignity.”

Craig Stoltz, editor of Dossier for the past three years, said he had tried to nudge the magazine away from its origins as a monthly album of society features and party photos and “to deliver an intelligent, creative and amusing product.”

While his success was reflected in editorial and design awards, and in such harder-edged journalism as annual efficiency audits of prominent local charities, Stoltz said Dossier’s frothy heritage had become an albatross. “I think as the Zeitgeist shifted back in 1989 or so, that became a liability,” he said.

Stoltz added, “I think the Dossier world is going into decline as well.”…

Dossier’s collapse follows a spate of magazine foldings during 1990 across the country: Psychology Today, 7 Days, New England Monthly, Long Island Monthly and Memories. Since Christmas, Wigwag, Egg, Fame and Savvy Woman have ceased publication, and three weeks ago, Washington’s Regardie’s announced it would publish bimonthly until the economy revives.

Washingtonian Editor Jack Limpert — who said his magazine does not expect to publish fewer than 1,500 ad pages in 1991 — also pointed out that Dossier lacked another financial bulwark, circulation revenues. As a controlled-circulation magazine, Dossier is largely distributed free of charge to about 50,000 selected wealthy individuals and addresses, a highly desirable demographic pool but one whose level of reader commitment is considered by most advertisers to be inferior to that of paying subscribers.

“If you don’t have the strong roots that paid circulation gives you,” Limpert said, “when the wind starts blowing hard it blows away a lot of controlled-circulation magazines.”

The fate of other magazines published in the metropolitan area — Museum & Arts Washington, Mid-Atlantic Country, New Dominion, all of them relatively young controlled-circulation titles — will depend on their owners’ and investors’ willingness and ability to sustain promising but unprofitable operations through an economic slump of unknown duration.

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