Influential Hollywood publicist David Horowitz, who worked with the biggest names in movies, music and politics including Barbra Streisand and Bill Clinton, died Sunday at his home in Los Angeles, his wife Lynn confirmed. He was 86.
Among the impressive list of talent he worked with were Woody Allen, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bette Davis, Kirk Douglas, and Steven Spielberg. In his later years, he worked as an Oscar strategist on numerous successful campaigns.
Horowitz began his association with Streisand starting with “Funny Girl” and continued through her films such as “Hello, Dolly!” and “What’s Up Doc?” Horowitz also worked on promoting high-profile films including “The Graduate,” “The French Connection” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”
He headed several divisions at Rogers & Cowan and headed publicity (first in film, then in TV) at Warner Bros. in the 1970s for a decade, where he also helped develop the Warner Bros. Studio Tour.
As an Oscar consultant, he was known for his regular Oscar dispatches to the industry. He worked on the campaign for “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” which resulted in 11 Oscars, and help guide Orion’s “Dances With Wolves” and “The Silence of the Lambs” to best picture wins.
He became involved with Clinton after TV producers Harry Thomason and Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, recruited Horowitz to help Clinton get a spot playing saxophone on “The Tonight Show.” “That was a good night for Clinton,” recalls Thomason.
Then during Clinton’s 1992 candidacy, he helped book the him on “The Arsenio Hall Show,” which boosted the candidate’s image among young and minority voters.
Horowitz was also active in civil rights issues and he helped put on a show to raise funds for Watts after the 1965 riots. One of his contributions after Martin Luther King was assassinated was arranging for his client Barbra Streisand to perform at a Hollywood Bowl benefit for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He also worked on Native American causes and for the state of Israel.
Born in New York City, Horowitz moved to Miami with his family and then to Los Angeles. Though he entered UCLA as a pre-med student, he realized he preferred entertainment and joined a Bakersfield TV station after graducation. In the mid-1950s he joined the Goodman Organization, where he worked on ad campaigns for Warner Bros., United Artists and AIP.
He moved into publicity when he was asked by filmmaker Robert Aldrich about his publicity experience. “Well, I do know advertising but, actually, nothing about publicity.” “You’re hired,” Aldrich exclaimed. “You’re the first honest publicist I’ve ever met,” Horowitz recounted. His campaign helped “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” garner five Oscar nominations, including Bette Davis for Best Actress, and one win.
A lover of Italian food and Langer’s pastrami, Horowitz was close to several L.A. chefs including Gino Angelini of Angelini Osteria; Tanino Drago of Tanino and Via Alloro; and the late Mauro Vincenti, of Rex and Alto Palato. He often took journalists to Angelini Osteria to talk Oscar campaigns.
He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Lynn, his sister-in-law Norma Rockman; godchildren Annelis and Will Laakko and their parents Keith and Betsy Laakko; and surrogate daughter Linda Dresie and her family.
Services will be held at Mount Sinai Memorial Park on Forest Lawn Drive in Los Angeles on Monday, July 25 at 10 a.m. Donations may be made to the Southern Poverty Law Center, to Mazon or to any charity of one’s choice.