Harry Clein, Seminal PR Agency Founder, Dies at 82

Clein founded Clein + Feldman with Bruce Feldman in 1981

harry clein

Photo: Michael Jacobs

Harold “Harry” Clein, the co-founder of the Hollywood public relations agency Clein + Feldman and its successor Clein + White, died on June 18 in Atlanta at the age of 82 of chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder.

Clein founded Clein + Feldman with Bruce Feldman in 1981, with offices on both coasts. Among the agency’s first clients were director Alan J. Pakula and “Sophie’s Choice.” The agency later became Clein + White in 1989, with the addition of Cara White as a partner and the departure of Feldman, and closed shop in 2000, after which Clein became a producer, marketing consultant and teacher at the Los Angeles Film School.

Amongst the numerous prestige projects repped by both companies were Oscar winners “Places in the Heart,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and “The Trip To Bountiful;” “Mona Lisa,” “She’s Gotta Have it,” “Dirty Dancing,” “Heathers,” “sex, lies, and videotape,” “28Up,” “Cinema Paradiso,” “Drugstore Cowboy,” “Gods and Monsters,” “Talk Radio,” “The Usual Suspects,” “The Dead,” “In the Company of Men,” “I Shot Andy Warhol,” “Life Is Sweet,” “Steel Magnolias,” “Gothic,” “The Brothers McMullen,” “My Own Private Idaho,” “The Joy Luck Club,” “The Player,” “Dazed and Confused,” “Before Sunrise,” “Welcome to the Dollhouse” and countless others.

In 1999, Clein became partners with Jeremy Walker to handle the Sundance launch and theatrical release campaign for “The Blair Witch Project.” The campaign they crafted integrated the internet–and the youth market it represented–into traditional public relations strategies in ways that would heavily influence movie marketing in the decade to come.

As an in-demand consultant Clein worked on behalf of producers and directors such as Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen on the announcement of their new studio, DreamWorks SKG, Robert Cort on “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” Wendy Finerman and Robert Zemeckis on “Forrest Gump,” Steve Jobs and Pixar Studios for “Toy Story,” Gillian Anderson on “Little Women,” Tim Burton on “Edward Scissorhands,” “Batman Returns” and “Ed Wood,” Wes Craven, Barry Levinson, Wolfgang Peterson and many others. Clien also directed PR campaigns for the American Ballet Theatre, the Independent Spirit Awards and the Sundance Institute.

Clein’s public relations career began when he was the first hired at Pat Kingsley and Lois Smith’s Pickwick Public Relations as an account executive/writer. There he worked with Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw, Candice Bergen, Bette Midler, Liza Minnelli, and others. Clein served as the unit publicist on “All the President’s Men,” “The Jazz Singer,” “The Last Tycoon,” “Foul Play,” “Starting Over,” “Comes A Horseman,” “First Love” and others. Clein also wrote the press notes for “Star Wars.”

A member of AMPAS, Clein received the 2000 Publicists Guild Career Achievement Award in recognition of his efforts in the publicity promotion and marketing campaign for “The Blair Witch Project.” In 1995 Clein shared, with Paramount Pictures, the Guild’s Maxwell Weinberg Showmanship award for the “Forrest Gump” Campaign.

Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Clein attended Phillips Academy and received a BA in architecture from Yale and an MA in playwriting from Yale School of Drama.

Clein is survived by his brother, Warren Clein (Carolyn) of Gladwyne, PA, nephew Donald Clein of Washington, DC, and nephew Lee Clein (Annette) of Bangor, ME.

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