Daniel J. Edelman, 92, who built one of the world's top public relations companies and pioneered celebrity endorsements and media tours, died of heart failure Tuesday at a Chicago hospital, said his son, Richard Edelman.
Edelman is credited with developing many of the methods now standard in the field, after transforming the firm he started more than 60 years ago with two people into a global marketing force with more than 4,500 employees in 66 offices worldwide.
The firm's clients include Microsoft, Pfizer, Wal-Mart and Royal Dutch Shell. Richard Edelman is now president and chief executive of the company.
Daniel Joseph Edelman was born July 3, 1920, in New York City. A graduate of Columbia University's journalism school, he worked as a reporter and editor for newspapers in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. He was drafted into the Army during World War II and first honed his public relations skills analyzing German propaganda as a member of a psychological warfare unit.
After the war, he worked as a news writer for CBS radio in New York.
He began his career in public relations as a publicist for Musicraft Records, whose musical stars included Mel Torme, sponsored on radio by the Toni hair care products manufacturer. Edelman credited that pairing with launching his marketing creativity: He packaged Torme's records in an album designed to look like a Toni product, gaining attention from disc jockeys and earning him a job as Toni's public relations director in Chicago.
By the 1960s, Edelman's own company was promoting California's wine industry. Edelman retained movie star Vincent Price as a spokesman and booked him on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson."
Edelman also hired baseball great Nolan Ryan for Advil and activist Gloria Steinem to promote birth control pills.
-- Los Angeles Times staff and wire reportsCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times