Bill O'Hare, Longtime Advertising and Publicity Exec in Hollywood, Dies at 88

Courtesy of Monina Castillo-O’Hare
Bill O'Hare

He worked at MGM, Paramount and Columbia and on campaigns for films including 'Doctor Zhivago' and '2001: A Space Odyssey.'

Bill O'Hare, a veteran marketing and publicity executive who had stints at MGM, Paramount, Columbia and CBS' Cinema Center Films, has died. He was 88.

O'Hare died April 2 of lung cancer at the Motion Picture & Television Fund's Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California, his family announced.

A native of Lake Placid, New York, O'Hare spent three decades in show business, from the 1950s through his retirement in the mid-'80s.

He started out as an assistant manager at Century Theatres in Brooklyn and worked at Distributors Corporation of America and Continental Distributors before landing at MGM in 1963. He joined Cinema Center Films upon its launch in 1968 and was with Paramount and Columbia through 1981 before opening his own firm.  

Using the medium of film posters, O'Hare was integral to the marketing of such iconic films as Doctor Zhivago, Gone With the Wind (in an anniversary reboot), 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Dirty Dozen, Viva Las Vegas, Le Mans, The Bad News Bears and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

O'Hare had memorable collaborations with graphic designers and artists Tom Jung, Howard Terpning and Bob McCall; execs Walter Reade Jr., William S. Paley, Robert Evans and Barry Diller; directors David Lean, Robert Aldrich and Stanley Kubrick; and actors Harold Lloyd, John Wayne, Lee Marvin, Richard Harris, Elvis Presley, Jack Lemmon and Steve McQueen.

"In my wildest dreams, I never imagined a kid from the tiny hamlet of Lake Placid would someday be working at these mythical companies, much less meeting and working with movie stars," O'Hare wrote in his 2016 book, Movie Magic: A Marketing Memoir. "Even more astonishing was that these stars would actually listen to what I had to say."

Survivors include his daughter Billianne, sons Rob, Matthew and Mike, daughter-in-law Monina and brother Don.

A private memorial service is set for Wednesday at the Louis B. Mayer Theater on the MPTF campus.