Publicist Howard Brandy, whose career spanned nearly five decades in Hollywood, died Monday in Los Angeles after a long illness. He was 79.
Raised in Brooklyn, Brandy served in the Marines during the 1950s, then settled in Los Angeles, where he went to work in the music industry. He represented teen heartthrobs Fabian and Frankie Avalon before going on to work with Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, the Fifth Dimension, Lionel Richie, the Captain & Tennille and the Monkees. He also headed publicity for A&M records, Uni Records and Motown.
Brandy was known throughout Hollywood for his unusual voice that sounded like canvas dragged over rough road. Actor-producer Gene Kirkwood recalls an incident when Motown producer Berry Gordy left Brandy and Stevie Wonder alone together in a hotel room. “The minute Howard spoke, Stevie jumped up on the bed, terrified,” Kirkwood said. “He’d never heard a sound like that before.”
He worked on the Beatles’ films “Hard Day’s Night” and “Help!” but his film PR work kicked into high gear with 1967’s “Privilege.” He worked on publicity campaigns for many films, ranging from “Young Frankenstein” and all the “Police Academy” movies to “The Last Emperor.”
He also worked on such TV fare as the remakes of “East of Eden” and “The Magnificent Ambersons.”
Brandy was involved with Academy Award campaigns for pics including Woody Allen’s “Sweet and Low-Down,” Pedro Almodovar’s “All About My Mother” and “Sexy Beast.”
His long relationship with “Rocky and Bullwinkle” creator Jay Ward led to several classic publicity stunts. One was a cross-country trip allegedly trying to create a national referendum urging statehood for Moosylvania, which ended in Ward and Brandy pulling up at the White House in full costume on the day the Cuban Missile Crisis erupted.
The strong-jawed visage of Canadian Mountie Dudley Do-Right was modeled on the profile of Brandy.
Brandy’s wife, Rose Einstein, was formerly VP and publishing director of the Variety group and is currently VP and associate publisher of the Hollywood Reporter.
In addition to Einstein, he is survived by two daughters and a son.
A memorial service will be held Friday at 11 a.m. at Hillside Memorial Park, 6001 W. Centinela Ave., Los Angeles.
Donations may be made to the Motion Picture & Television Fund Foundation, P.O. Box 51150, Los Angeles, CA 90051-9706.