Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mae West: Frank Liberman

"Goodness Had Nothing to Do with It" was MAE WEST's letter to the world. Released in hardcover fifty years ago by the Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey imprint Prentice Hall, this meaty memoir has also been done as a paperback by Avon Books [December 1959] and in more recent reissues. If you own a first edition, then your copy has a pale-lavender cloth with white lettering on the spine and a startling image of the star posing in her boudoir on the dust jacket, which promises some thrills and "Gives you the behind-the-headlines details of a glamorous star's spectacular life and career."
• • Hollywood publicist Frank Liberman helped promote the bio half-a-century ago. Word comes that Liberman, who had Parkinson's disease, died of pneumonia at age 92 on Sunday at Providence Tarzana Medical Center.
• • A native New Yorker like Mae, he was born in The Big Apple on 29 May 1917 and was raised in White Plains.
• • After college, he learned about writing copy while employed by the New York Daily News. He soon joined Warner Brothers and worked his way up. After serving as an Army public relations officer [1941 — 1946], Liberman rejoined Warner Brothers, where he was engaged as a unit publicist before establishing his own firm, Frank Liberman and Associates, in 1947.
• • As a publicist, Liberman represented movies and stars; for 41 years he was Bob Hope's flack and Phyllis Diller's for 33. Other celebrity clients included Robert Goulet, Henry Fonda, Nat "King" Cole, Tony Bennett, Charles Bronson, Joan Blondell, Jack Paar, Harry Belafonte, Steve Allen, David Janssen, Dorothy Lamour, Joey Bishop, William Shatner, Mike Nichols, and the songwriting team of Jay Livingston and Ray Evans.
• • Hired to beat the drums for Mae West's 271-page memoir, he also pushed the biographies of Ethel Merman and Gig Young — — as well as four of George Burns' books, four of Diller's and five of Hope's — — during his five decades in the business.
• • Maybe goodness had nothing to do with it but Frank Liberman was known for his tact, charm, goodwill, and a reputation for decency. This gentleman will be missed.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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