Melissa Havard, Consultant to Film & TV on Health Issues, Dies at 51

Melissa Addis Caplan Havard

Melissa Addis Caplan Havard, a consultant to TV series including “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Law and Order: SVU” and films “The Insider,” “Juno” and “Thank You for Smoking” and a onetime teacher at Los Angeles Film School, died on Dec. 19 in Duarte, Calif. She was 51 and had been battling leukemia.

From 1997 to 2004, Havard was the director of the entertainment initiative for the Office of Smoking and Health at the Centers for Disease Control, where she was the force behind campaigns that included high-profile public service announcements urging viewers to quit smoking such as one starring Christy Turlington ( and Esai Morales’ “Quit for the ones you love” ad.

Her job was to be the liaison to the creative community providing accurate science and materials for set dressing for inclusion in tobacco-related storylines. Other films and TV series on which she worked included “Coach Carter,” “Mean Girls,” “JAG,” “Judging Amy,” “Sabrina,” “American Dreams” and “One Tree Hill.”

In addition to Turlington and Morales, she recruited celebrities including Jeremy London, Richard Marx and Boyz II Men for media campaigns. She also exec produced and developed educational videos, PSAs and posters featuring celebrities for use in schools and health programs throughout the world.

At the L.A. Film School from Feb 2009 to April 2010, she taught a class called “Media & Society” — it was about the impact of concentration of media, censorship and entertainment as a platform for social change.

Havard then worked in the health PR arena, serving as director of entertainment health and outreach for the Edelman PR firm, where she oversaw an awareness-raising campaign about bipolar disorder with Sean Astin.

She eventually branched out to other social issues and started an independent firm, Casablanca Consulting. She worked on sexual health issues and teen pregnancy issues in “Juno” and on domestic violence and sexual health issues for “Law & Order: SVU.”

Havard was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to Jewish parents and attended Florida State U.

Survivors include husband Rick Havard; a daughter; and two sisters and a brother.

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  1. Alec Caplan Sullivan says:

    I’m Going to miss my little sister.
    I remember seeing her in dads arms with the king of Ethiopa at the Addis Ababa zoo. Next to them was a long necked giraffe.

    I know you will take good care of Katie.


  2. Ray Richmond says:

    Melissa was a passionate advocate against smoking on screen and a phenomenal, charismatic human being. She knew that I was of two minds as a journalist regarding her efforts, and she accepted that. What she wouldn’t accept was my ever being out of her life once she entered mine as a story source. You couldn’t ever have crossed Melissa’s path and not remain friends. A beautiful woman inside and out, taken from us far too young. Not fair.

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