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Sunday 22 April 2018

Farewell to the editor behind 'Hello!' . . .

Eduardo Sanchez Junco was the editor and president of Hola!, the international weekly celebrity magazine that delights in glossy photographs of royalty and sprightly interviews with Hollywood stars pictured usually in their mansions, while wittering lightly about love, their latest spouse, baby or a professional project.

Junco inherited Hola! and its lightweight formula from his parents. His father, a Barcelona-based journalist, created the magazine in 1944 to showcase "the froth of life". His wife helped with the layout.

In 1988 Junco launched Hello!, the English-language version, and it proved an instant success. Princess Anne featured on the cover, and the interview with her inside was the first given by a member of the British Royal Family to show them in their own home.

The deferential approach set the tone for Hello!'s future coverage of society figures, royals and celebrities.

By 1992, Hello! was selling 1.3 million copies a week in the UK and it soon spawned a host of competitors (Here!, Now!, Enjoy! and the more successful OK!). Few shared Hello!'s refusal to splash the latest celebrity sex scandal.

In a rare interview, published last summer in the Spanish Sunday supplement XLSemanal, Junco said: "What we seek to do is to entertain and divert the reader, but according to norms of good taste. I cannot publish a report about a famous person that will surprise their family in a compromising situation. I am trying to publish a magazine that does no harm to anyone."

He once acquired a set of photographs of Diana, Princess of Wales sunbathing topless, and destroyed them all. She had, he explained last year, provided more than 40 successful front covers for the UK version of Hello!.

Suppressing the photographs was for Junco simply a matter of gratitude; destroying them, it could be argued, was a canny way of ensuring his competitors would not get to use them. He often bought potentially embarrassing pictures -- he was known to pay the best -- to block other publications using them, and in the process earned the gratitude of many a celebrity.

Such attitudes were a reflection of the Catholic morality and family ethics which underpinned Hola!. The magazine flourished under Franco by publishing images of society weddings and the odd Eucharistic congress.

Junco ran the multi-million pound company from an elegant apartment in Madrid. He would rise on the second floor at 7.30am, and two hours later would begin work in an office three floors above his flat.

In the lift, an interviewer suggested, he was as likely to trip over the toys of his 12 grandchildren as layout pages for the magazine. Junco's entire family were involved in the publication -- last year his mother Mercedes (89) was still in charge of the fashion specials, and his three children were also heavily involved in the editing. His son Eduardo is current editor-in-chief of Hello! in the UK.

Eduardo Sanchez Junco was born in 1943 in Palencia, northwest Spain, the only son of Mercedes Junco Calderon and Antonio Sanchez Gomez. After being educated by the Jesuits in Barcelona, Junco studied agricultural engineering at the Complutense university, Madrid, before starting work at Hola!.

When his father died in 1984 Junco took over as editor, and began to circulate in European high society, enjoying access to the rich and famous, and providing readers with fascinating, if squeaky-clean, insights into their lives.

In this, Junco was aided by Hola!'s star interviewer, the Marquesa de Varela, a Uruguayan socialite who gained her title through marriage and who was said to travel with designer luggage full of cash, which she used to clinch her interviews.

Despite the fact that he spoke little English, Junco had every page of the magazine emailed to him for approval and set up many of the celebrity interviews himself.

Today 14 different editions of Hello!/Hola! are published in 10 languages, selling 12 million copies weekly. Last year Junco expressed regrets that he had not tackled the US market: "Publishing there implies a huge investment and I was very frightened of doing this because it was beyond my financial means."

The US was, he said, a possibility for future generations and he had, in his final years, acquired a part-share in the Spanish television channel Antena 3.

Junco is survived by his wife and three children.

Eduardo Sanchez Junco, editor of Hola!, was born on April 26, 1943. He died of cancer on July 14, 2010, aged 67.

Irish Independent

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