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Leo Zabelin

Leo Zabelin, a retired entertainment industry publicist and former Variety staffer, died Jan. 9 of natural causes at his residence in Van Nuys. He was 82.

After working as a Variety staff writer and sales rep during the late 1930s and early 1940s, Zabelin began his career in public relations.

In the early 1950s, Zabelin served as editor of Downbeat magazine. During this period, he met producer Mike Todd, which resulted in his involvement with promoting the film “Around the World in Eighty Days.”

Todd later placed Zabelin in charge of his showplace theaters, the Todd Cinestage and the Michael Todd, in Chicago.

In the late 1960s, he moved to Tulsa, where he began his association with the Jim Halsey Organization, a leading agent for country music performers.

With the Halsey Org, Zabelin helped guide the careers of Roy Clark, the Oak Ridge Boys and others. He relocated to Nashville in the mid-1970s until his retirement a few years later.

He is survived by a sister, a niece and a nephew.

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