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Morris I. Diamond, who promoted Michael Jackson concerts, ran a record label and served as a music supervisor on movies including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, died April 7 of natural causes in Rancho Mirage, California, his family announced. He was 97.
Diamond was national promotion director of Mercury Records in the 1960s, and he later headed Beverly Hills Records. That label boasted a roster that included Chet Baker and J.P. Morgan and released Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack to Butterfly (1982), a drama that starred Orson Welles, Stacy Keach and Golden Globe winner Pia Zadora.
In the mid-1980s, Diamond began to promote concerts for some 15 years in Turkey with headliners that included Jackson, Liza Minnelli, Julio Iglesias, Tom Jones and Shirley MacLaine.
Born on Aug. 15, 1921, in the Bronx, Diamond began his music career as a “band boy” for the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra in February 1940, not long after Frank Sinatra had signed with the famed bandleader.
After a stint as a sergeant and radio control operator with the U.S. Army Air Transport, he turned down an offer to work with Sinatra in Los Angeles in 1945 to rejoin Dorsey as a song plugger.
As a music supervisor and consultant, Diamond contributed to such films as A Man Called Dagger (1968), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), Fake-Out (1982), Gaby: A True Story (1987) and The Dukes (2007).
At age 90, Morris published his memoir, The Name Dropper, or People I Schlepped With, which chronicled his 70-year career. The book is peppered with humorous and poignant anecdotes about Jackson, Sinatra, Telly Savalas, Buddy Rich, Peggy Lee, Merv Griffin, Kenny Rogers, Rodney Dangerfield, Ivana Trump, Steve Allen and others.
Recently, Morris played a rabbi on the Palm Springs TV series Wise Guys Cooking on NBC affiliate KMIR.
Survivors include his daughters, JoAnne and Allyn Marie, and their respective husbands, Jim and Bob, and his grandchildren, Helen and Darrell, and their spouses, Steve and Marcella.
A celebration of his life will be held in the Palm Springs area.
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