Hollywood PR maven Lee Solters dies at 89

Mon May 18, 2009 8:26pm EDT

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LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Lee Solters, a Hollywood publicist who represented everyone from Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand to Michael Jackson and Led Zeppelin during a career that spanned 70 years, died Monday at his home in West Hollywood. He was 89.

Solters' roster also included Claudette Colbert, Gregory Peck, Cary Grant, Carol Channing, Mae West, talk show host Robert Q. Lewis, Dolly Parton, Whitney Houston, Paul McCartney and Wings, the Eagles, Yul Brynner, Broadway impresario David Merrick, the Muppets, 20th Century Fox owner Marvin Davis and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

In 1965, Solters didn't represent Sinatra, who was going on tour, but he did represent Caesars Palace, where Sinatra was under contract. Caesars paid Solters extra to make sure everywhere the singer went, he was associated with Caesars.

When he met Sinatra, Solters didn't act too impressed. "I never argued with him, but I discussed things," Solters said in 2003. "I was not a yes man ... I did tell Sinatra that I didn't think his current publicist was doing a very good job."

When Sinatra asked him what he would do, Solters suggested in each city he'd "invite two leading columnists, five minutes before you go on, to visit in your dressing room. You give this guy the rare opportunity to see you face to face."

So they tried it in Philadelphia, where Larry Fields of the Philadelphia Daily News brought his wife along. Sinatra kissed her cheek and she fainted. Fields wrote a glowingly positive column.

"So in each city, I did that and built an army of supporters for him," Solters said. "After that, (the press) would call me when something happened with him ... Then when we got back to Caesars, (Sinatra's lawyer) Mickey Rudin told me, 'You're taking over (Sinatra's PR).'"

The Brooklyn-born Solters also represented more than 300 musical and straight plays, including Broadway productions of "Guys and Dolls," "Funny Girl," "The King & I," "My Fair Lady," and "Camelot" and works by Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller and Neil Simon.

He is survived by his daughter, Susan Reynolds, and son, Larry Solters. Funeral services are private.

(Editing by Dean Gooodman)

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