Hollywood Publicist Michael Sands Dies After Choking at L.A. Gelson's


The man behind the idea for Mr. Blackwell's "Worst Dressed List" died at the age of 66.

Hollywood publicist Michael Sands, who was the brains behind Mr. Blackwell's "Worst Dressed List," died at the age of 66 on April 6.

Sands was at Gelson's deli counter in Century City on March 24 when he began to choke on a beef sample. His son, Nick, told The Wrap that his father had Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, which meant that his airways were smaller than normal.

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He was revived by paramedics and rushed to Cedars-Sinai, where he was placed in a medically-induced coma. He died on April 6 at the age of 66, The Wrap reports.

Born as Michael Shapiro on Dec. 14, 1945, Sands is probably best known for coming up with the idea behind Mr. Blackwell's "Worst Dressed List.” His list of clients included Kevin Federline, Ronald Reagan's son Michael and Kristy Swanson, along with prominent defense attorneys and plastic surgeons.

Associate Press court reporter Linda Deutsch, who had been friends with Sands for about 30 years, told The Hollywood Reporter that Sands “was a consummate publicist who worked hard for his clients and rejoiced in their successes.”

“He also was a true patriot with deep ties to the military. His undercover operations were legendary and he lived a life so colorful some had thought of turning it into a TV series,” she said.

Sands was known for his eccentricities, claiming to have been a CIA operative who helped capture terrorist Abu Abbas, who hijacked the Achille Lauro cruise ship in 1985. He also once posed partially nude in a magazine to promote his line of cheesecakes. He had appeared in various TV commercials and some film roles.

Deutsch added that “the true focus of his personal life was his son, Nick, who turned 17 this week and is missing his father deeply.  Michael raised Nick as a single father and made sure he had the best schooling and became a star in wrestling and football.”