David McGrath, Former Top Marketing Exec at MGM, Dies at 74

The former FBI agent spearheaded campaigns for such films as “Doctor Zhivago” and “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

David McGrath, a senior marketing executive at MGM in the 1960s, died Feb. 29 in San Diego after a lengthy illness. He was 74.

McGrath handled the marketing campaigns for such films as Doctor Zhivago (1965), The Dirty Dozen (1967), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Ryan’s Daughter (1970) and scores of others.

McGrath came to the studio after serving in the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover, who reported to his father, J. Howard McGrath, attorney general for Harry Truman from 1949-52. His FBI service was primarily protecting the family of Robert Kennedy.

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At MGM from 1962-72, McGrath worked his way through the ranks of the studio, achieving success at the box office with his campaigns on numerous films. He was responsible for organizing the migration of the marketing department from its New York headquarters to the studio in Culver City.

Following the move to California, McGrath left the business to return to his Rhode Island farm, where the 1950s films starring Francis the Talking Mule had been filmed. He headed up Rhode Island Savings and Loan, where his marketing skills grew the S&L to the biggest in the state, then left banking to do charitable work and professional cooking.

Survivors include his son, Brian. Donations in his memory can be made to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation.