British publicist and marketing consultant Freddie Ross Hancock, whose clients included Sophia Loren, Julie Andrews and Benny Hill, and helped bring the British Academy of Film and Television Arts to New York, has died in the city at the age of 92.
Born Freda Ross in 1930 in North London, she learned the public relations business working for the Holland America cruise line for two years, after which she joined the Universal Film Corporation of America as assistant head of publicity in the U.K.
In the early 1950s she set up her own publicity firm, Freda Ross Associates, representing performers such as Benny Hill, Dick Emery, Bob Monkhouse, Terry Scott and Hugh Lloyd. She met comedian and actor Tony Hancock in 1954 when she was 24, and persuaded him to take her on as his publicist.
In 1959 Ross and Hancock began an affair, although he was married, but they lived together openly from 1963, and married in December 1965. The next year he left her for Joan Le Mesurier, the wife of his friend, the actor John Le Mesurier.
In 1968 she filed for divorce on grounds of adultery. Three days after she was granted the decree nisi, Hancock killed himself.
In 1969, she wrote a biography of Hancock with the journalist David Nathan.
Freddie Hancock later moved to New York, where she became a marketing consultant in the entertainment industry. She worked as an acquisitions executive for American Video Films, and consulted for companies including Miramax.
She was the founder and vice-chairman of BAFTA East Coast, and was appointed vice-chairman of the U.S. arm of the Royal Television Society.
She organized the 80th birthday party for British broadcaster Alistair Cooke in New York in November 1988, getting Leonard Bernstein to perform and then-president Ronald Reagan to send a video greeting.
She was made a Member of the British Empire in 2002 for fostering Anglo-American cultural links.