Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mae West: Lee Solters

Word comes that a publicist who worked with MAE WEST has gone to the everlasting "Spin City" in the beyond.
• • Born in Brooklyn like Mae, Lee Solters came into the world on 23 June 1919. A creative person who enjoyed writing, the native New Yorker studied journalism and advertising at New York University. He covered high school basketball for The New York Times before he was drafted. While in the military, he penned pieces for Stars & Stripes. After receiving discharge papers, Solters began his own public relations firm during 1948 with partner James J. O'Rourke: Solters O'Rourke.
• • During the 1940s and 1950s, columnists were regulars at the top nightspots. Solters dropped in at clubs like Toots Shor and learned how to plant items with gossip guru Walter Winchell and finesse favorable mentions with society snitch Hedda Hopper.
• • The New York Times (and others) have made mention of his shrewdness. For example, one trick was devised to aid producer David Merrick to salvage a foundering Broadway show: Lee Solters and Merrick concocted a newspaper advertisement with quotations from men they had found in the phone book with the same names as top theater critics.
• • It has been said that in the late 1970s, Mr. Solters moved to Hollywood, where he helped set the trend for hiring entertainers to sell products and images. Forty years before that, however, Mae West was hired to lend glamour and sex appeal to cigarette brands and even soap in the 1930s.
• • Unlike many theatrical press agents of today — — who charge $7,500 + merely to send out a boring press release by fax — — it seems that Lee Solters had the imagination, personal touch, amicable deceitfulness, and discernment that creates buzz.
• • His client roster of entertainment stars included: Mae West, Benny Goodman, Cher, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Michael Jackson, the Muppets, Cary Grant, Led Zeppelin, Dolly Parton, and others. He claimed he knew Dolly when she was still flat-chested.
• • He also worked with more than 300 Broadway productions, musicals, and dramas including "Guys and Dolls," "Funny Girl," "The King & I," "My Fair Lady," "Camelot." as well as works by Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, and Neil Simon. In Nevada, he repped Sinatra, Caesars Palace, and (eventually), the City of Las Vegas.
• • Solters' namesake public relations firm says the New York native died at age 89 at his West Hollywood, California home on Monday morning.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Mae West.

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