Dick Delson, a well-known Hollywood publicist who worked with stars including Sylvester Stallone, Walter Matthau and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and on campaigns for films including “The Deer Hunter” and “Jaws,” died Sunday in Yarmouth, Maine. He was 81.
His niece, Joanna Delson, said he died in his sleep at a longterm care facility.
Among his other clients were James Coburn, whose Oscar campaign for “Affliction” Delson designed, Robert Culp, Peter Graves, Lou Gossett, Jr., Marsha Mason, George Segal, Fred Dryer and Roddy McDowall, as well as authors Harold Robbins and Iris Rainer Dart.
Before forming his own firm in 1984, Delson was national director of publicity/promotion and television advertising at Walt Disney Productions, where he worked on campaigns for films including “Tron,” “Tex” and “Fantasia” as well as for “Splash” and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”
Prior to Disney, he served as national director of publicity for Filmways Pictures, promoting titles like “Dressed to Kill,” “Blow Out,” and “Ragtime.”
Over 12 years at Universal Pictures, Delson worked on some of the biggest blockbusters of the 1970s, such as “Airport,” “Jaws II,” “American Graffiti,” “The Sting” and “Animal House.”
He was a member of the Motion Picture Academy and a longtime advocate for animal rescue.
Born in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, he worked with President Lyndon B. Johnson on the Foreign Visitor Program in 1968, and authored the report of the Presidential Commission on Travel.
He is survived by his wife, Jane; a brother, Carl Harnick; a daughter, Kim Delson; two granddaughters, two great-grandchildren and two nieces.