Lee Solters

Lee Solters was the publicist for some of Broadway’s biggest hits and Hollywood’s biggest stars. (Dan Steinberg / Associated Press / May 19, 2004)

Lee Solters

Publicist for Broadway, Hollywood

Lee Solters, 89, a longtime publicist who worked with some of the biggest names of Broadway and Hollywood, died Monday of natural causes at his home in West Hollywood, according to Jerry Digney, his partner in the public relations firm of Solters & Digney.

In the 1960s, Solters was considered the top publicist on Broadway and worked on numerous legendary productions including "Guys and Dolls," "Funny Girl," "The King and I," "My Fair Lady" and plays by Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller and Neil Simon.

At one time or another, his client list included Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, Cary Grant and Mae West as well as the Muppets and the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

A colorful Damon Runyon-type character, Solters was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on June 23, 1919. After graduating from New York University, he served in the Army during World War II writing for the military newspaper Stars & Stripes. After the war, he started working in publicity firms, eventually heading some of the leading agencies in the business.

His two children, Susan Reynolds and Larry Solters, also became major publicists. They survive him, along with two grandchildren and a great-grandson.

Funeral services will be private.

Alfred Appel Jr.

Professor wrote on jazz, literature

Alfred Appel Jr., 75, a Northwestern University English professor who was a leading expert on Russian American author Vladimir Nabokov and a scholar of modern art and jazz, died of heart failure May 2 at a hospital in Evanston, Ill., according to his daughter Karen Oshman.

As a Cornell University undergraduate, Appel studied under Nabokov and in 1970 produced one of his best-known works, "The Annotated Lolita."

The book laid out the layers of literary references and word play in Nabokov's story of a middle-aged man's obsession with a young girl, and helped push a novel some had condemned as obscene squarely into the literary canon, said Samuel Hynes, professor emeritus of literature at Princeton University.

A wide-ranging intellect led Appel into all aspects of 20th century art. His book "Jazz Modernism: From Ellington and Armstrong to Matisse and Joyce" looked at the musical form within the context of other artistic movements at the time.

Appel's book "changes your understanding of the first half of the century, it connects jazz to painting, sculpture, advertising, graphic design," said author and jazz critic Gary Giddins. "For a variety of reasons, among them racism, jazz has never been talked about in the academy in the same way you'd talk about Mondrian or Matisse."

Born Jan. 31, 1934, in Brooklyn, N.Y., Appel spent two years at Cornell before a stint in the Army. He transferred to Columbia University, where he received bachelor's and doctoral degrees in English literature.

He became an emeritus professor at Northwestern in 2000.

-- times staff and wire reports news.obits@latimes.com