After attending the local elementary school and Hollywood High School, Chandler entered Stanford University in 1918 and graduated in 1922.
He was hired as secretary to his father at the Los Angeles Times, a newspaper his grandfather, Harrison Gray Otis, had owned and published from 1881 to 1917. There was never any doubt that Chandler would follow his father into the newspaper business. He worked at the paper part-time while a student, doing everything from sweeping floors to apprenticing in the stereotype and composing rooms. In 1929, he was elevated to assistant to the publisher. Five years later Chandler was named to the board of directors of the TimesMirror Company, which controlled the newspaper, and became assistant to the general manager of the corporation. In 1938, he became vice-president and general manager, and in 1941 he became president when his father moved into the post of board chairman. Upon the death of his father in 1944, Chandler was named publisher of the newspaper, a post he held until 1960. He was assisted in the management of the newspaper by his brothers, Harrison and Philip. In the mid-1940's, when the Chandler children left home to attend school, Dorothy Buffum Chandler completed her college education and then went to work at the newspaper. She became administrative assistant to the president of the Times-Mirror Corporation in 1948. She also contributed to the management of the women's department at the Times. In 1942, the Times won its first Pulitzer Prize for "the most disinterested and meritorious service" and emerged as a national newspaper, reflecting both Chandler's effort and the growth of California. The Times Charities, founded in 1944, became a multimillion-dollar operation supporting summer camps, urban public swimming pools, and many related youth activities. In 1948, the Times-Mirror Corporation established an afternoon newspaper, the Los Angeles Mirror, with Virgil Pinkley, a former United Press manager, as publisher. The Mirror was successful; by 1956, it had a circulation of more than three hundred thousand. Chandler expanded the Times's coverage of national and foreign news, transforming what many considered a narrow, parochial newspaper into one with influence far beyond Los Angeles. His accession coincided with a major spurt in the growth of the Times's readership area. When Chandler took over, the Times ranked thirty-fourth in advertising lineage among the nation's newspapers. Within a year it was third. By 1955, on most days it had more pages than even the New York Times. " In the 1950's, Chandler expanded Times-Mirror into other media. It began in 1956, when he acquired television station KTTV, which he sold to Metromedia in 1963. In 1956, on the occasion of the Times's seventy-fifth anniversary, the California legislature commended the newspaper as one of the world's leading journals and praised Chandler as a major contributor to journalism and the well-being of Los Angeles. In the years that followed, Chandler purchased other newspapers, including Newsday, a Long Island-based tabloid; the Dallas Times Herald; and some smaller ones. He also entered book publishing, cable television, and public relations. By the early 1960's the Times-Mirror Corporation had become one of the nation's largest and most powerful media conglomerates. In 1960, Chandler stepped down and turned operations over to his son. Eight years later, he became chairman of the Times-Mirror Executive Committee, relinquishing all other responsibilities at the company. He died in Los Angeles.
He remained a moderate Republican while allowing the Mirror to espouse a more liberal editorial policy. In 1952, for example, the Times supported Senator Robert Taft of Ohio for the Republican presidential nomination while the Mirror came out for Dwight Eisenhower. "We were kind of lopsided in those days, " he recalled. "If we gave the Republicans a big story, we'd give the Democrats a small one. And we only gave management's side in labor disputes.
Quotations: "Los Angeles had grown into an industrial and manufacturing community during wartime, " explained Chandler, "and a tabloid paper of the Mirror's type might appeal to the new elements of our population more than the Times. "
In 1920, he married Dorothy Buffum, whose family owned and managed a large department store. They had two children.