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Breaking - Legendary Publicist Lois Smith Dies at 85; repped Marilyn Monroe, Redford, Scorsese, Streep, & Whitney


One of the founders of the publicity firm PMK, Smith guided the careers of stars like Marilyn Monroe and Robert Redford and directors like Martin Scorsese.

Lois Smith, the influential, New York-based publicist who was instrumental in promoting the careers of a wide range of Hollywood figures that included Marilyn Monroe, Robert Redford and Martin Scorsese, died Sunday of a brain hemorrhage she suffered because of an accidental fall. She was 85.

Smith and her husband Eugene Smith were visiting Hebron Academy, the college preperatory school in Hebron, Maine, where they was being honored during homecoming weekend. During the night, while staying at a local bed-and-breakfast, she fell, sustaining the head injury and was taken to a local hospital.

Lois Smith, along with Pat Kingsley, Gerry Johnson and Pat Newcomb, formed Pickwick Public Relations in 1969. "We called ourselves Pickwick because we were amiable eccentrics - the staff and the client list," Smith later said. In 1980, the firm merged with another agency Maslansky/Koeningsberg and was renamed PMK, where Smith and Kingsley were also joined by Leslee Dart. PMK, which was acquired by the Interpublic Group in 1999, eventually merged with another of Interpublic’s agencies, HBH, to become PMK/HBH and in late 2009, as the result of yet another merger, it became known as PMK*BNC.

Although she initially intended to become a journalist and was offered a job as a researcher at Time magazine, Smith recounted that she was warned that opportunities would be limited since women weren’t offered bylines in those days. Instead, she took a job with a PR firm run by Ted Saucier, where she learned the ropes on industrial and fashion accounts. She moved on to show business when she went on to work for Arthur Jacobs, who represented actors and directors, eventually heading his office before striking out to form her own company.

Over the years, Smith’s clients also included Gina Lollobrigida, Meryl Streep, Warren Beatty, Liza Minnelli, Whitney Houston and Rosie O’Donnell.

In 2003, when Smith won the Publicist Guild’s Life Achievement Award, her friend Scorsese testified, “Lois stands out as a beacon in the industry,” said the famed director. “What matters to her is the art as it should be.”

In an interview in 2010, Smith, who by then had retired, said, “I’m so glad I’m not doing publicity now. Between celebrity magazines and Web sites, there’s so much out there to be filled up, so much information that has to be put out there simply because those publications exist. First of all, whatever you’re pushing, it becomes a story 30 seconds after you put it out there. I don’t care about hearing so much information minute by minute. People are desperate to fill the space they’ve got; they’ll print anything, go with anything, pursue rumors, and even create them. It’s not what I call publicity.”

In addition to her husband, she is survived by three children, Eric, Luke and Brooke, and four grandchildren. Her fourth child, a son Scott, died in 1985.

by Anonymousreply 910/08/2012


by Anonymousreply 110/07/2012

I loved her in "Twister."

by Anonymousreply 210/07/2012

Her daughter put the lotion on her skin so she didn't get the hose again.

by Anonymousreply 310/07/2012

omg it was too soon :(

by Anonymousreply 410/07/2012

How hard can it be to do publicity for people as talented as Monroe, Scorsese, etc?

Whoever has to work magic for a dud has it rough.

by Anonymousreply 510/08/2012

This is such important news for most Americans!

by Anonymousreply 610/08/2012

If you know a little bit about the PR industry, she was indeed a legendary figure and one who also did her job with a lot of class and integrity, something that is rare for that field. Some great testimonials on Deadline:

"Such sad news. A call to Lois put a glow in the day. She was warm, sensible, and ready to laugh. A favorite memory: I was writing a profile of Robert Redford and after a couple days of intersecting with him at various press events, I barely had any material. I gvetched to Lois, who said, “He’s driving to Philadelphia tomorrow. Show up at his office and get in the car with him. Don’t let him ask questions. That’s your job.” I did as she said, got time with Bob, and ended up with an excellent story. A couple days later I put a call into Lois. It was one of many times I left a message that simply said, “Thank you.” I’ll say it one more time here: Thank you."

by Anonymousreply 710/08/2012

Nice Tribute from Rosie....

by Anonymousreply 810/08/2012

Great woman. She lived on Plum Island in Newbury (Newburyport) Mass right near me...

by Anonymousreply 910/08/2012
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