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William Simpson Kenly III

Film historian, publicist, archivist

William Simpson Kenly III, a film historian, publicist and archivist, died July 21, in Philmont, New York. He was 87.

Kenly was a New York-based senior publicist at Paramount Pictures, and retired there in 1994, after more than 40 years with the company. In 1973, he worked extensively on the 100th birthday tribute to the founder of the studio, Adolph Zukor.

In addition to his Paramount duties, Kenly was associated for four decades with the New York Film Festival, presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center. He worked as performance liaison for the annual fall festival, and also assisted on its various tributes to such stars as Charlie Chaplin, Bette Davis, Billy Wilder, Alfred Hitchcock, Barbara Stanwyck, Bob Hope and Fred Astaire.

Kenly was equally well-known for his vast collection of vintage films, and his West Village apartment became a magnet for film enthusiasts eager to see obscure movies. His private screenings included such guests as Diana Vreeland, Gloria Swanson, Beverly Sills, Pauline Kael and Bill Blass.

A graduate of Rutgers University, Kenly managed the Fifth Avenue Cinema, one of the first art cinemas in the country.

Kenly is survived by Richard Buban, his companion of 33 years.

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