Ben Halpern, Longtime Universal Television Publicist, Dies at 99

Ben Halpern Obit
Courtesy of Halpern Family

Ben Halpern

He also worked for Paramount, United Artists and Filmways in a career that spanned five decades.

Ben Halpern, a publicist for Paramount, United Artists, Filmways and Universal, died Saturday at his home in Los Angeles, his family announced. He was 99.

Halpern came to Los Angeles in 1973 when Universal upped him to vp publicity and advertising for television. He helped promote such shows as ColumboMurder, She WroteMagnum, P.I.The Rockford FilesMiami ViceIronside; and Kojak and the Steven Spielberg telefilm Duel before he retired in 1988.

Born in New York City on Feb. 5, 1921, Halpern was charged with training soldiers to shoot and develop film for aerial reconnaissance as a member of the U.S. Army Air Corps. Following the service, he graduated from NYU film school in 1945 as part of its first class.

After working as an associate editor for the Independent Film Journal, Halpern joined Paramount in its New York office in 1949 as a publicist and helped create campaigns for such films as Samson and Delilah (1949), Sunset Boulevard (1950), A Place in the Sun (1951) and The Greatest Show on Earth (1952).

He shifted to United Artists Television in 1952 as director of publicity and advertising and then relocated to Paris to serve as director of motion picture publicity and advertising for Europe and the Middle East. There, he represented UA at film festivals and developed campaigns for the likes of Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Gary Cooper and Marlene Dietrich.

In 1957, Halpern returned to New York, where he worked for UA, Jim Mahoney & Associates, Filmways and MCA Universal before heading for L.A.

He was a founding member of the Television Publicity Executives Committee.

Survivors include his wife of 71 years, Lois; children Amy (and her husband, David), Nancy (Mahmood), Andrew (Rebecca) and Nora (Kerry); grandchildren Arwa, Adnan, Emily, Julia, Cooper and Grace; and nephew Alfred.