Harry Clein, a co-founder of PR Agencies Clein + Feldman and Clein + White, died June 18 in Atlanta, Ga. He was 82.
The Hollywood publicist suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). His agencies represented numerous successful projects, from “Steel Magnolias” and “Heathers” to “Dazed and Confused.”
His first project at Clein + Feldman, which he founded in 1981 with Bruce Feldman, was “Sophie’s Choice.” The firm became Clein + White in 1989 when Cara White joined as a partner and Feldman left to work at the studios.
Clein also spearheaded the publicity and marketing for “The Blair Witch Project,” a new style of horror film that won the Independent Spirit Award and pioneered the found footage genre. The campaign focused on targeting youth audiences and integrated the internet into promotional plans, which was uncommon at the time, while also following traditional strategies.
Following the success level of his marketing for the film, he received the 2000 Publicists Guild Career Achievement Award.
Clein + White closed in 2000, and Clein then went on to work for the Los Angeles Film School, where he taught, produced and served as a marketing consultant.
Before he branched out with his own company, Clein began his professional career as a page at NBC in New York. After moving to Los Angeles, he worked for a detective agency posing as an employee at Disneyland for summer, then worked for gossip columnist Joyce Haber.
Clein wrote for the Los Angeles Times, TV Guide, Show and Coast magazines and served as film critic for the defunct trade Entertainment World. He started his public relations career at Pat Kingsley and Lois Smith’s Pickwick Public Relations, where he worked with their clients including Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw, Candice Bergen, Bette Midler and Liza Minnelli.
Though Clein often worked with independent filmmakers, he also consulted on publicity campaigns for “Toy Story” and “Edward Scissorhands.” He crafted the press notes for the “Star Wars” franchise, as well.
Clein also had opportunities to put his public relations knowledge to work for world-renowned awards institutions, directing campaigns for the likes of the Sundance Institute and the Independent Spirit Awards.
He earned a bachelor of arts in architecture as well as a master of arts in playwriting from Yale and its School of Drama.
He is survived by his brother Warren Clein and nephews Donald and Lee Clein.