John Strauss, 88; Veteran Publicist for Production Firms, Actors

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John Strauss, an independent Hollywood publicist who headed an agency that handled more than 200 celebrities, including long-term client and friend Jimmy Stewart, has died. He was 88.

Strauss, who represented Stewart for 45 years, died of pneumonia Friday at Sherman Oaks Hospital, said his son, John J. Strauss.

When Stewart died in 1997, Strauss told an interviewer, “It sounds thoroughly trite to say, but he was a totally nice guy. Thoroughly decent, polite, considerate. . . . I don’t think we ever had a phone conversation that didn’t end with his saying ‘thank you’ to me.”


Discussing, and often announcing, his well-known clients’ deaths was one of Strauss’ unhappier duties. But those were offset by plenty of pleasant tasks, such as arranging the promotional campaign for several best-selling books, including “Jimmy Stewart and His Poems” or the late actor David Niven’s “The Moon’s a Balloon” and other autobiographies.

A leader in his craft, Strauss was nominated a dozen times for the Les Mason Award of the Publicists Guild of America, whose 1986 directory is dedicated to him. A former member of the guild’s executive committee, he also served for five years as a trustee of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and was secretary-treasurer of its Hollywood chapter.

Strauss, a native New Yorker educated at Yale University, initially worked on Wall Street as a bond trader for Mabon & Co. but switched to sales and then promotion for Warner Bros. Pictures in upstate New York.

Transferring to Burbank, he worked for Warner Bros., Columbia and other studios before establishing his own public relations agency.

In 1948, he was founding president of what had become Cleary, Strauss and Irwin. The name changed in 1964 to McFadden, Strauss, Eddy and Irwin, and in 1975 to ICPR. Strauss headed a staff of 60, with offices in Los Angeles, New York and London representing more than 200 entertainers, half a dozen major television production businesses, including Quinn Martin, Lorimar and Paramount, and several manufacturers, among them Whirlpool, General Motors and Ford.

Strauss’ long talent roster included Julie Andrews, Desi Arnaz, Lucille Ball, Humphrey Bogart, Lloyd Bridges, Carol Burnett, Nat King Cole, Clark Gable, Stanley Kramer, Jack Lemmon, Robert Mitchum, Jack Palance, Vincent Price, Max Von Sydow and Andy Williams.


The veteran publicist, who retired three years ago, is survived by his wife of 53 years, Renee; a daughter, Susan Strauss Koenig; his son; and three grandchildren.

A memorial service is scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday at Kol Tikvah Synagogue, 20400 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills.

The family has suggested that any memorial donations be made to the Humane Society.