Esme Chandlee

Publicist


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her two-hour Archive interview, Esme Chandlee (1918-2012) discusses her first job at MGM working in the fan mail department and how this lead to her role as the head of the script department on the lot. She then discusses her move to the studio's publicity department and details what lead to her becoming a junior publicist, followed by her swift rise to senior publicist at MGM. She further delves into the inner workings of the publicity department and shares her recollections of memorable moments at the studio. Chandlee also discusses her time working at Cleary, Strauss & Irvin and eventually opening her own PR office. She also speaks candidly on the effects that Blacklisting had upon her clients and others in the industry and shares her reflections on the entertainment industry and her long and successful career. Reba Merrill conducted the interview on February 21, 2001 in Los Angeles, CA.

"So many times I think there were great friendships made between a publicist and a star. ... There was a family feeling. ... I think that it was the philosophy that all the studio publicity departments had at that time, which was, you paid attention to your own and you saw that they got the best."

Highlights
Esme Chandlee on the structure of the publicity department at MGM
01:11
Esme Chandlee on working with columnists like Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons
01:45
Esme Chandlee on Louis B. Mayer's feelings about publicity
00:25
Esme Chandlee on the philosophy that MGM had regarding publicity
00:24
Esme Chandlee on the control and influence the studios had over the publicity for the stars
04:24
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her childhood and early influences; on her first impressions of television; on her first job at MGM, working in the fan mail department; on working as the head of the script department at MGM; on her memories of working at MGM 
On her eventual move to the publicity department at MGM; on starting out doing the billings for the MGM publicity department; on working for the Special Services Department; on becoming a junior publicist and her quick rise to senior publicist; on the structure and inner workings of the publicity department at MGM; on becoming the first woman planter for the publicity department to the media

Chapter 2

On Louis B. Mayer's feelings about publicity; on the publicity for premieres on both the large and small screen; on how the business of publicity has changed over the years; on a publicist's responsibilities while accompanying a performer on interviews; on the control and influence the studios had over the publicity for the stars; on what kinds of stories were granted interviews with the press
On working with columnists like Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons; on further detail about working as a plant; on how MGM handled situations that could lead to negative press; on the protective nature the publicists at MGM had for their stars; on dealing with the Teamster's in 1945; on further details of her work as a Senior Publicist at MGM

Chapter 3

On how a film was publicized; on how MGM handled scandals that arose; on the increase of independent publicists in the industry; the impact of television on the film studios in the 1950's; on the still photography used for film publicity; on what makes a great publicity photo
On campaigns for new films; on press kits for films; on the Supreme Court order that Lowe's divest itself from MGM and its impact; on the MGM 25th anniversary photo for Life magazine; on the close of Judy Garland's career at MGM; on Lana Turner leaving film work to work in television; on Louis B. Mayer's resignation from MGM in 1951; on the casting of Ben Hur; on how MGM handled the publicity of romances between stars; on The Wizard of Oz being sold by MGM to CBS

Chapter 4

On her move from MGM to Cleary, Strauss & Irvin; on working in production on the TV show, Here's Hollywood; on opening her own PR office in 1961; on maintaining the same clients over time; on acquiring new clients for her PR office; on receiving the Les Mason Award from the Publicists Guild in 1984; on her involvement with the Publicists Guild; on what advice she would give someone starting out in the field of publicity
On how the publicity field has changed over the years; on how audiences have changed over the years; on the role of women in publicity; on the highlight of her career; on any regrets in her career; on who she considers a mentor to her; on how Blacklisting affected her clients; on how she would like to be remembered; on reflections about her career and working in entertainment
Shows

Here's Hollywood

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Esme Chandlee on working in production on the TV show, Here's Hollywood
01:46

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

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Esme Chandlee on publicizing Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
07:37
Topics

Fame and Celebrity

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Esme Chandlee on how MGM handled situations that could lead to negative press; on the protective nature the publicists at MGM had for their stars
02:56
Esme Chandlee on working with columnists like Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons
01:45
Esme Chandlee on the publicity of Frank Sinatra's romance with Ava Gardner
02:51

Hollywood Blacklist

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Esme Chandlee on how Blacklisting affected her clients
02:50

Industry Strikes

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Esme Chandlee on dealing with the Teamster's strike in 1945
01:22
Professions

Publicist

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Esme Chandlee on the structure of the publicity department at MGM
01:11
Esme Chandlee on the philosophy that MGM had regarding publicity
00:24
Esme Chandlee on how a publicist acquires clients
02:11
Genres

Talk Shows

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Esme Chandlee on working in production on the TV show, Here's Hollywood
01:46
People

Warren Cowan

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Esme Chandlee on the increase of independent publicists in the industry including Warren Cowan, Henry Rogers and Dave Epstein
02:43

Jack Cummings

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Esme Chandlee on Jack Cummings' involvement with publicizing Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
07:37

Sam Elliot

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Esme Chandlee on working with clients such as Sam Elliot and Tom Selleck
03:13

Clark Gable

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Esme Chandlee on the publicity shots for the male stars including Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy and Robert Taylor
01:15
Esme Chandlee on the romantic complications between Clark Gable, Grace Kelly and Ava Gardner
01:59

Ava Gardner

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Esme Chandlee on the publicity of Frank Sinatra's romance with Ava Gardner
02:51

Judy Garland

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Esme Chandlee on the dismissal of Judy Garland's publicist
01:05
Esme Chandlee on the close of Judy Garland's career at MGM
00:33

Betty Garrett

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Esme Chandlee on how Blacklisting affected people in the industry, such as Larry Parks and Betty Garrett
02:50

Charlton Heston

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Esme Chandlee on the casting of Ben Hur
00:48

Hedda Hopper

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Esme Chandlee on working with columnists like Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons
01:45
Esme Chandlee on publicizing Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
07:37

Grace Kelly

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Esme Chandlee on the romantic complications between Clark Gable, Grace Kelly and Ava Gardner
01:59

Janet Leigh

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Esme Chandlee on the control and influence the studios had over the publicity for the stars such as Janet Leigh
01:27

Louis B. Mayer

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Esme Chandlee on Louis B. Mayer's resignation from MGM in 1951
00:44

Vera Miles

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Esme Chandlee on how she began working with Vera Miles
01:47

Larry Parks

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Esme Chandlee on how Blacklisting affected people in the industry, such as Larry Parks and Betty Garrett
02:50

Louella Parsons

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Esme Chandlee on working with columnists like Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons
01:45
Esme Chandlee on publicizing Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
07:37

Debbie Reynolds

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Esme Chandlee on the responsibilities of the publicist when accompanying a star on an interview, such as Debbie Reynolds and others
00:56
Esme Chandlee on the impact to Debbie Reynolds' image, when she got divorced
01:18

Tom Selleck

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Esme Chandlee on working with clients such as Sam Elliot and Tom Selleck
03:13

Frank Sinatra

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Esme Chandlee on the publicity of Frank Sinatra's romance with Ava Gardner
02:51

Robert Taylor

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Esme Chandlee on Robert Taylor's involvement with the Blacklists
02:50

Danny Thomas

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Esme Chandlee on how new projects were started at MGM
00:42

Lana Turner

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Esme Chandlee on Lana Turner saying she was leaving film work in favor of television work
00:16

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