Publicist Tom Miller dies at 85

Worked on 'Graduate,' 'Producers'

Publicist Tom Miller died Dec. 6 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. following a brief illness. He was 85.

Miller first entered the film business as staff publicist at Embassy Pictures, where he worked on “The Graduate” and “The Producers.” 

He then moved on to American International Pictures, promoting films including “Bloody Mama,” “Wild in the Streets” and the Vincent Price/Edgar Allen Poe movies, and then to MGM, where he publicized such films as “Dr. Zhivago” and “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

He became a unit publicist after a letter to the editor he wrote to the New York Times defending “2001: A Space Odyssey” came to the attention of an exec who hired him as unit publicist for Paul Mazursky’s “Alex in Wonderland.” He worked on David Lean’s “Ryan’s Daughter,” and went on to handle the unit publicity for the original “Shaft,” Elaine May’s “Mikey and Nicky,” Brian de Palma’s “Blow Out,”  “The Chosen,” Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Cotton Club,” and two films directed by Paul Newman (“The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds” and “Harry & Son”),.  His last picture was Volker Schlondorff’s “A Gathering of Old Men,” a 1987 television film.

Born in Carrier Mills, Ill., he served in the Coast Guard during WWII, and attended New Mexico State U., USC and Los Angeles City and State Colleges. His musical play “The Darwin Theory” was produced to at Los Angeles City College, where Jerry Goldsmith assisted him with the music.

After his retirement, he wrote novels under the name Tom Canford, including “Boy at Sea,” “The Curse of Vilma Valentine” and “Ghost Guitars.”

He is survived by his life partner, Jonathan May, and two sisters.

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