David Charnay, 90; Journalist, Publicist and TV Syndicator


David Charnay, a onetime journalist, public relations advisor and industrialist who headed Four Star Television Productions from the late 1960s through the early ‘80s, has died. He was 90.

Charnay, who also wrote novels, died Wednesday of complications from surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

In 1967, Charnay led a syndicate that bought controlling interest in Four Star Productions, the prolific television production and distribution company founded in 1955 by several stars, including Dick Powell, David Niven and Charles Boyer.

As president, chief executive and chairman of the board of Four Star, Charnay turned the company into a powerhouse syndicator of its large library of shows, which included “The Rifleman,” “Wanted: Dead or Alive,” “The Rogues” and “The Big Valley.”

Born in New York City, Charnay attended Wesleyan University and New York University before going to work as a reporter for the New York Daily News and the New York Daily Mirror. During World War II, he served in the Office of Strategic Services.


In the early ‘50s, he founded New York City-headquartered Allied Public Relations, whose clients included John L. Lewis, Madame Chiang Kai-shek, Cecil B. DeMille, Jimmy Hoffa, Richard M. Nixon and Hubert H. Humphrey.

After leaving public relations in the early ‘60s, Charnay served as chairman of Highway Trailers, Clinton Engines and Ward La France, and later was president and chief executive of Transcontinental Industries.

His first novel, “Target 1600,” a political thriller, was published in 1980. His second, “Operation Lucifer: The Chase, Capture and Trial of Adolf Hitler,” was published last year.

He is survived by his wife, Martha, of Calabasas; a son, John, of Los Angeles; two daughters, Janis Charnay of Palm Springs and Jeannette Hower of Chaparral, N.M.; his sister, Beatrice Maybruck of New York City; and seven grandchildren.

His funeral will be Tuesday in New York City. A memorial service will be held in Los Angeles at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Leukemia Society.