Peter Kaplan, the former editor of the New York Observer who hired a then-unknown Candace Bushnell to write a column called “Sex and the City,” died Nov. 29 in New York. He was 59.

He had cancer, said his wife, Lisa Chase.

Mr. Kaplan edited the Observer from 1994 to 2009. The salmon-colored weekly, which is widely read by the Manhattan-based movers and shakers it covers, has a reach beyond its circulation of about 50,000.

Mr. Kaplan was credited with honing the paper’s snarky tone and with hiring writers who became influential voices of their era.

Bushnell’s column about love and dating inspired the hit HBO series “Sex and the City,” starring Sarah Jessica Parker.

“The more cancellations we got for her column,” Mr. Kaplan wrote in New York magazine in 2011, “the more the paper knew we had hit the jackpot.”

Other writers who worked under Mr. Kaplan at the Observer included Joe Conason, who is now editor in chief of the political Web site the National Memo; and Nikki Finke, who founded

After leaving the Observer, Mr. Kaplan became the editorial creative director at Conde Nast Traveler. In 2010, he was named editorial director of the Fairchild Fashion Group, now Fairchild Fashion Media, a division of Conde Nast Publications.

But his role as a cultural arbiter was perhaps best exemplified by the creation of several fake Twitter personae in his honor, including Wise Kaplan, Cranky Kaplan and Real Kaplan. Wise Kaplan’s profile identifies him as “New York Oracle.”

Survivors include his wife; four children; and two brothers.

— Associated Press