Publicist Roth dies at 87

Industry vet remembered for work on 'West Side Story,' 'Apartment'

Producer and publicist Leon Roth died Nov. 24 in Los Angeles of pneumonia. He was 87.

Born in Brooklyn, he was a graduate of City College of New York. He started his career writing for newspapers in the late 1940s, and then moved to United Artists in New York, where he became assistant publicity manager. He was appointed VP and head of publicity when the company opened its offices in Hollywood.

He later became VP and head of publicity for the Mirisch Company. Among the publicity campaigns he coordinated and oversaw were those for “West Side Story,” “Some Like It Hot,” “The Apartment” and “Irma La Douce.”

In 1964 he produced “The Luck of Ginger Coffey,” which won the Canadian film award for best feature. He remained active in independent film production, worked as an executive with Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin and was an officer of the National General Corporation.

In 2003 he appeared in docu “Funny Old Guys,” about Hollywood characters who lunch weekly.

Roth taught film production at the University of Southern California as an adjunct professor for more than 20 years.

He is survived by his two sons; Eric, a screenwriter; and Steve; and daughter Nancy Horton; 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Donations may be made to the Adult Literacy Fund through the Los Angeles Public Library.

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