Nancy Silberkleit

Archie's accidental boss

November 24, 2010: 3:00 AM ET

Nancy Silberkleit was asked to run the iconic comic book publisher.  The trouble?  She had no clue how to operate a business.

By Josh Hyatt, contributor

Silberkleit and Betty: "I was not going to say yes."

When the call came, Nancy Silberkleit was in her usual spot: at the front of a classroom, teaching third-graders about art. Little did she know that she was about to be tested.

It was early 2009, and the caller was the ex-wife of her late husband's business partner. The two men, Richard Goldwater and Michael Silberkleit, had died within 10 months of each other, and their company, Archie Comic Publications, was adrift under a makeshift management team. Revenues were declining, and there was a void at the top. Would Silberkleit help run the company?

"I was not going to say yes," recalls Silberkleit, now 56. She asked for time to think it over. "I had no business experience and had never, ever thought about running Archie Comics," she says. "I don't know if my husband or his partner ever thought about who could do this if they weren't here. They may have thought about it, gotten headaches, and ended the conversation there."

During their 20-year marriage, she never spent much time at the company's industrial-style headquarters, in Mamaroneck, N.Y. She dashed in and out, lest anyone spot her in paint-splotched overalls and old shoes. "Archie was his life," she says bluntly. "But it wasn't mine." More

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