Steered marketing campaigns for MGM films in 1960s

David J. McGrath, a former senior executive at MGM responsible for the marketing campaigns for films including “Doctor Zhivago,” “Ryan’s Daughter,” “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “The Dirty Dozen,” died in San Diego on Feb. 29 after a long illness. He was 74.

McGrath, who worked at MGM from 1962-72, started as a field press representative and worked his way up to a position as the No. 2 exec in charge of marketing, publicity and promotion, achieving box office success with his campaigns on numerous films. He organized the move of the marketing department from the New York corporate HQ to the studio in Culver City.

Born in Providence, R.I., McGrath attended La Salle U. in Philadelphia and served in the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover, who reported to his father, J. Howard McGrath, attorney general under President Harry Truman. David McGrath was ultimately assigned to protect Robert F. Kennedy’s children.

Following the move of MGM’s marketing department to California, McGrath left the business to return to his Rhode Island farm, where one of the films in the Francis the Talking Mule series had been shot, and worked in banking and later as a private chef.

McGrath is survived by a son, having been preceded in death by two other children.

Donations may be made to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation.

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