Marion Billings, Longtime Publicist for Martin Scorsese, Dies at 91

Marion Billings - P 2015
Courtesy Harry Burton/HBNYPR

Marion Billings - P 2015

The filmmaker called her his "trusted friend" and "fierce protector"; she also worked with Oliver Stone, Ingmar Bergman and Paul Mazursky.

Marion Billings, the renowned New York movie publicist and champion of Martin Scorsese early and throughout his career, died Sunday at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, N.J., publicist Harry Burton announced. She was 91.

She worked with Scorsese on films including Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974), Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) and Goodfellas (1990).

“Marion Billings was one of the last of the old guard of publicists,” Scorsese said in a statement. “It was never just business with Marion. Her clients all adored her, and I’m proud to say that I was one of them for many years. We started working together at the very beginning of my career, in 1968, and for three decades she was a close collaborator, a fierce protector and above all a close and trusted friend to me and my family.

"Some of those years were pretty tough, and Marion handled it all beautifully. She was great at what she did, and she was a very special human being. For me, for many others, this is a very sad goodbye.”

In the 2008 book Scorsese by Ebert, the late film critic Roger Ebert noted that “[Scorsese’s] longtime publicist, Marion Billings, is not the type of person who rehearses sound bites with her client, but more of a supporter and a friend.”

During a career that spanned more than five decades, Billings also helped out with Oliver Stone’s Wall Street (1987) and Born on the Fourth of July (1989), Robert Benton’s Oscar best picture winner Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) and Adrian Lyne’s Fatal Attraction (1987). She also worked with directors Paul Mazursky and Abel Ferrara and with such actors as Robert De Niro, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep, Mary Steenburgen, Harvey Keitel and Tom Berenger.

Some of her earliest work helped introduce films by Ingmar Bergman and Milos Forman to American audiences.

A native New Yorker, Billings worked in the MGM publicity department early in her career before joining Arthur Canton’s film PR and marketing agency. In the late 1960s, she and her late husband, Steven Billings, founded the agency that would become known as M/S Billings Publicity Ltd. Based out of the Fisk Building on West 57th St. in New York, it remained active until 2007.

A member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Billings is survived by nephews Richard (and his wife, Joyce) and Jerold.

Twitter: @mikebarnes4