Unlike his revered and formal predecessor, who wore jackets and ties, saw people by appointment and was addressed as “Mr. Shawn,” Mr. Gottlieb was a quirky collector of kitsch, like plastic women’s handbags, a passionate lover of classical ballet and an eccentric Anglophile who called writers “dear boy.”

He did not attend gossipy magazine lunches, preferring a hot dog in Central Park or a sandwich at his desk. With his long face, heavy glasses and thinning hair, he padded around the office like a beachcomber in old sneakers, baggy pants and rumpled polo shirts, schmoozing with the staff.

Easing the apprehensions of many New Yorker aficionados, he made few and mostly minor changes over five years. He published new contributors, including the journalist Raymond Bonner, the essayist Judith Thurman and the poet Diane Ackerman, and fiction by Robert Stone and Richard Ford. New critics were hired, and Talk of the Town commentaries were opened to more writers and were no longer written anonymously. But he did not shorten the long articles that critics sometimes called long-winded and boring, and he gradually won the trust and affection of most of the staff.

In 1992, Tina Brown, the British editor of Vanity Fair, replaced Mr. Gottlieb in an amicable transition and introduced splashy changes. Admirers called them lively topicality and refreshing impertinence. Traditionalists called them vulgar, particularly a portrait of Eustace Tilley, the magazine’s trademark dandy, who appeared on an anniversary cover as an acne-plagued teenager with a gold earring, squinting at a handbill for a Times Square sex shop.

After his New Yorker days, Mr. Gottlieb in time resumed editing for Knopf; became a dance critic for The New York Observer; compiled anthologies on dance, jazz and lyrics; and wrote several books, including a 2016 memoir, “Avid Reader: A Life,” in which he addressed the pros and cons of the literary life.

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