Publicist Jack Hirshberg dies

Repped Frank Sinatra, Jack Benny

Jack Hirshberg, the iconic publicist who worked on dozens of films and chronicled a golden age in Hollywood, died at his home in Laguna Niguel, Calif., on March 7 after a brief illness. He was 92.

His death was announced Friday by family spokesperson Spooky Stevens.

A native of Montreal, Hirshberg began his career as a newspaper reporter in the 1930s, becoming a syndicated columnist with "Hirshberg's Hollywood," which ran throughout Canada. He was a founding member of the Publicists Guild of America in 1937 and worked on such films as "The Ten Commandments," "Some Like It Hot," "Play It Again, Sam," "All the President's Men" and "Ordinary People."

Hirshberg also represented such notables as Frank Sinatra, Jack Benny, Gary Cooper, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Martin & Lewis and Cecil B. DeMille.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences maintains a special collection of the Hirshberg Papers, Spanning the years 1953-80, they include hundreds of articles, tape-recorded interviews and memorabilia collected throughout his career and is comprised of nine linear feet of interviews.

Hirshberg's joined Paramount in 1940 to handle special promotions for young actors. An American citizen through his parents, he joined the U.S. Navy during World War II, then returned to the studio and handled campaigns for dozens of films, notably DeMille's "Ten Commandments" (1956) and Stanley Donen's "Funny Face" (1957).

He left Paramount to work as an independent publicity director on "The Vikings" (1958), followed by "Kings Go Forth" (1958), "Some Like It Hot" (1959) and other pics.

In the early '60s, Hirshberg supervised publicity for the motion picture department at Rogers & Cowan, then created and executed campaigns for the firm's TV division. He then shifted to Arthur P. Jacobs' company, APJAC Prods., supervising publicity for all its productions, including "Doctor Dolittle" (1967), "The Planet of the Apes" series that began in 1968, "Tom Sawyer" (1973) and "Play It Again, Sam" (1972).

At Fox, he served as the publicist on such pics as George Cukor's "Justine" (1969), Gene Kelly's "Hello, Dolly!" (1969) and Martin Ritt's "The Great White Hope" (1970).

Hirshberg retired in 1973, but at the request of Robert Redford, he came back to handle the publicity on Redford films "All the President's Men" (1976), "The Electric Horseman" (1979) and two from 1980, "Brubaker" and "Ordinary People."

Hirshberg also was a ghost writer for Hollywood notables and wrote two books, "The Making of 'All the President's Men' " and "The Legend of the Lone Ranger."

Hirshberg was preceded in death by his wife Lois, to whom he was married for 40 years; she died in 1992. He is survived by daughters Susan Davis and Jill Zinner; son Robert Purvin; his loving companion of 17 years, Madelyn Kamins; four grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and a nephew, a niece and several cousins.

For more than two decades, Hirshberg was a volunteer for Meals on Wheels and a supporter of the Pacific Symphony of Orange County, among other organizations.

A celebration of his life will take place April 24. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made in Jack's memory to the Motion Picture and TV Fund, the Blind Childrens Center in Los Angeles or the City of Hope.