Dick Delson, Veteran Hollywood Publicist, Dies at 81

Courtesy of Joanna Delson
Dick Delson

He worked for Disney, Universal and Miramax and did PR for the best picture Oscar winners 'The Sting,' 'The Deer Hunter' and 'Chicago.'

Dick Delson, the Hollywood publicist and awards consultant who worked for Disney, Universal, Miramax and others during his half-century in the entertainment business, has died. He was 81.

Delson died Sunday after a long illness at an assisted-care facility in Yarmouth, Maine, his niece Joanna Delson reported. 

Nicknamed "Richy" by his friends and associates, Delson partnered with the late Murray Weissman in Weissman Delson Communications from 1998-2005. They had both worked at Universal from 1966-76, with Delson serving as the studio's New York-based director of publicity.

He and director George Lucas were honored for their "outstanding service to the entertainment industry" at the 2003 Golden Satellite Awards.

The Brooklyn native also worked for CBS and Filmways Pictures, did publicity for the People's Choice Awards and had his own firm, Dick Delson & Associates, before and after teaming with Weissman.

His clients included Sylvester Stallone, Lou Gossett Jr., George Segal, Chuck Norris, Roddy McDowall, Walter Matthau, James Coburn, Paul Sorvino, Robert Culp, Peter Graves, Marsha Mason, Robert Davi, Fred Dryer, Harold Robbins, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Gary Player.

Delson helped out on Miramax campaigns for more than a decade, assisting on pictures including Pulp Fiction (1994), the best picture Oscar winner Chicago (2002), The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), Bridget Jones's Diary (2001), Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York (2002) and Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) and Vol. 2 (2004).

At MCA/Universal, Delson helped with the publicity on the best picture Oscar winners The Sting (1973) and The Deer Hunter (1978); Airport (1970); Lucas' American Graffiti (1973); Steven Spielberg's Jaws (1975) and its 1978 sequel; Smokey and the Bandit (1977); Animal House (1978); and Coal Miner's Daughter (1980).

As national director of publicity for Filmways, Delson worked on Dressed to Kill (1980), Blow Out (1981) and Ragtime (1981), and as national director of publicity/promotion and television advertising for Walt Disney Productions, he did PR for Tron (1982), Splash (1984) and many other projects.

Survivors include his wife, Jane; brother Carl; daughter Kim; granddaughters Kelly and Kendall; great-grandchildren Vincent and Tristan; and nieces Joanna and Perla.