Hollywood publicist Gene Shefrin dead at 90

LOS ANGELES Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:58pm EDT

Television personality Dick Clark (L) is shown with his publicist Gene Shefrin, in this undated publicity photo released to Reuters April 11, 2011. REUTERS/Shefrin Family/Handout

Television personality Dick Clark (L) is shown with his publicist Gene Shefrin, in this undated publicity photo released to Reuters April 11, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Shefrin Family/Handout

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Former Hollywood publicist Gene Shefrin, who represented Don Rickles, Guy Lombardo and Dick Clark during a career spanning 42 years, has died after a battle with Parkinson's disease. He was 90.

Shefrin died in his sleep on April 6 in Encinitas, Calif., near San Diego, said his son Paul Shefrin, who followed in his father's footsteps.

Prior to his retirement in 1987, Gene Shefrin also worked for stars such as Monty Hall, Kate Smith, Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, Frankie Laine, Vic Damone, Perry Como and Sam Cooke.

He also handled the Beatles' first New York appearance at Carnegie Hall in 1964, and a civil rights fund-raiser by Frank Sinatra and Lena Horne, also at Carnegie Hall.

Shefrin, born to Russian immigrants in New York City in 1921, started out in public relations in 1945 after a stint during World War Two as ground support for U.S. bombers based in England.

In 1952, he hired a high school kid to come in for two hours a day after class and write pithy comments that would be sent to gossip columnists for attribution to Shefrin's clients. The youngster's name was Allen Koningsberg, better known these days as Woody Allen. The filmmaker returned the favor 40 years later by casting Shefrin as an extra in his movie "Bullets Over Broadway."

Shefrin moved to Los Angeles in the early 1960s and started his own firm, now known as the Shefrin Company, which his son joined in 1976 and continues to run. In addition to his son, he is survived by his wife of 68 years, Sophie, and two grandchildren.

(Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Jill Serjeant)

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