John Strauss

Publicist


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-hour Archive interview, John Strauss (1913-2001) describes entering the film business via the Buffalo, New York sales office of Warner Bros., and later transferring to California into the studio's publicity department. He then recalls working in other various studio publicity departments, including PRC and Columbia, before opening his own independent publicity firm. He talks about the growing influence of television at that time, and the effects of the Hollywood Blacklist on people he knew. Strauss discusses the five major television production companies that he represented, including Desilu Productions, Lorimar, and QM Productions, and the projects that his firm worked on for each of them. He also recalls the people at those companies that he worked with, including Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Red Skelton, Quinn Martin, David L. Wolper and others. Strauss reminisces about many of the individual celebrity clients he represented, including Julie Andrews, Fred MacMurray, David Niven, Jack Palance, Vincent Price, Stirling Silliphant, Andy Williams, Rod Steiger, and his best friend and client for over 40 years, Jimmy Stewart. Charles Davis conducted the interview on December 2, 1999 in Sherman Oaks, CA.

"In my opinion, the most important attribute that a publicist must really have is to win the confidence of the media."

Highlights
John Strauss on planting stories by giving scoops to newspaper columnists Hal Humphrey and Erskine Johnson
01:09
John Strauss on Lucille Ball as a "tough broad" and a thoughtful friend
01:12
John Strauss on Fred MacMurray and his unique deal with Don Fedderson Productions
01:42
John Strauss on speaking to newspaper columnist Hedda Hopper on behalf of actor Sterling Hayden when he was suspected of being a Communist
01:06
John Strauss on advice to someone starting out in public relations
02:35
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; on his impressions of early television; on his first job in the entertainment industry selling Warner Bros. films to movie theaters in Upstate New York
15:27
On his first job in publicity as a unit publicist at Warner Bros.; on the makeup of the publicity department at Warner Bros.
06:07
On becoming the head planter in the publicity department at Columbia; on planting stories with newspaper columnists Hedda Hopper, Louella Parsons, Rona Barrett, Erskine Johnson, and Hal Humphrey
05:49

Chapter 2

On the role of the publicity department at a studio; on the difference between publicity and advertising
05:36
On the big entertainment stories that occurred while he worked at Columbia; on the relationship between studios and newspapers when it came to potentially damaging stories
03:21
On television becoming a force in entertainment; on the studios' and movie stars' fear of television killing movies and how that did not come to pass
02:16
On his work on the executive board of the Publicists Guild of America; on his participation in two union strikes; on the strikes contributing to his decision to leave Columbia
08:49
On the Hollywood Blacklist; on the consequences for publicists of being a real or suspected Communist; on speaking to newspaper columnist Hedda Hopper on behalf of actor Sterling Hayden when he was suspected of being a Communist
08:09

Chapter 3

On the formation of his independent publicity firm, Cleary-Strauss and Associates, and how that firm became Cleary-Strauss and Irwin; on their client list
03:45
On his client and close friend, Jimmy Stewart; on the services his publicity firm offered clients; on the challenges of working with the studios as an independent publicity firm
04:55
On determining a fee structure for clients; on his television clients: Desilu Productions, Lorimar, Red Skelton, David L. Wolper, and Quinn Martin and his corporate clients: Whirlpool, 3M, Crocker Bank, First L.A. Bank; on the difference between working with entertainment clients versus corporate clients
04:51
On his firm's merger with McFadden and Eddy, and his break with Chip Cleary; on the creation of the firm ICPR; on ICPR's eventual demise
07:21
On the beginning of his working relationship with Desilu Productions; on his initial impressions of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball; on his personal and working relationships with Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball
07:30

Chapter 4

On his feelings about Lucille Ball's second husband, Gary Morton; on other Desilu shows
05:02
On working with Quinn Martin's production company QM Productions; on handling publicity during high-profile legal cases
05:33
On working with sponsors and ad agencies; on the relationship between the networks and publicity firms
07:14
On working with Lorimar; on encouraging the audience to write in to save The Waltons; on working with producer David L. Wolper; on publicizing Quinn Martin and David L. Wolper shows
10:06

Chapter 5

On representing Red Skelton, Julie Andrews, and Carol Burnett
06:16
On representing Jack Lemmon; on Fred MacMurray and his unique deal with Don Fedderson Productions; on representing David Niven
05:59
On representing Jack Palance and the Saul Bass ad that helped launch his career; on working with advertising agencies; on Quinn Martin's appreciation of his publicity work
04:17
On his admiration for Vincent Price; on representing writer Stirling Silliphant; on how his firm lost Andy Williams as a client
02:38
On his personal and professional relationship with Rod Steiger; on his close personal and professional relationship with Jimmy Stewart
04:09
On the publicist's role in making sure client interviews run smoothly; on Rod Steiger declining to invite him on a publicity tour to Berlin
04:51

Chapter 6

On making the decision to retire; on advice to someone starting out in public relations; on the importance of imagination and writing skills in succeeding as a publicist
04:02
On how the industry has changed since he first started in the business; on the importance of a publicist winning the confidence of the media
04:40
On his mentors; on being nominated nine times for the Les Mason Award and his admiration for Les Mason; on the Publicists Guild of America
05:27
On career highlights; on fellow publicist Ben Irwin and other former colleagues
04:25
On columnist Army Archerd; on his wife, Renee Strauss
02:42
B-roll photos of Rod Steiger and John Strauss in 1983; Jimmy Stewart and Johnny Carson with others in 1986; Jimmy Stewart and John Strauss in 1986; Lucille Ball and John Strauss in 1986; John Strauss and Max von Sydow in 1988
03:07
Shows

Lucy Show, The

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John Strauss on doing publicity for The Lucy Show
01:37

My Three Sons

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John Strauss on Fred MacMurray and his unique deal with Don Fedderson Productions for filming My Three Sons
01:42

Waltons, The

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John Strauss on encouraging the audience to write in to save The Waltons
02:55
Topics

Advertising and Sponsorship

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Publicist John Strauss on working with sponsors and ad agencies
02:59
John Strauss on the value of both publicity and advertising
01:43

Advice

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John Strauss on advice to someone starting out in public relations
02:35

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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John Strauss on his mentors
02:33

Hollywood Blacklist

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John Strauss on the Hollywood Blacklist
07:54
John Strauss on speaking to newspaper columnist Hedda Hopper on behalf of actor Sterling Hayden when he was suspected of being a Communist
01:06

Industry Crossroads

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John Strauss on the Hollywood Blacklist
07:54
John Strauss on his participation in two union strikes
04:52
John Strauss on speaking to newspaper columnist Hedda Hopper on behalf of actor Sterling Hayden when he was suspected of being a Communist
01:06

Industry Strikes

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John Strauss on his participation in two union strikes
04:52

Pivotal Career Moments

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John Strauss on his mentors
02:33

Ronald Reagan

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John Strauss on an interview newspaper columnist Hal Humphrey conducted with Ronald Reagan
02:14

Television Industry

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John Strauss on the Hollywood Blacklist
07:54
John Strauss on his participation in two union strikes
04:52
John Strauss on speaking to newspaper columnist Hedda Hopper on behalf of actor Sterling Hayden when he was suspected of being a Communist
01:06
Publicist John Strauss on working with sponsors and ad agencies
02:59
John Strauss on the value of both publicity and advertising
01:43
John Strauss on advice to someone starting out in public relations
02:35
John Strauss on how the industry has changed since he first started in the business
01:33

Television and the Presidency

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John Strauss on an interview newspaper columnist Hal Humphrey conducted with Ronald Reagan
02:14
Professions

Publicist

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John Strauss on the makeup of the publicity department at Warner Bros.
01:01
John Strauss on the role of the publicity department at a studio
03:29
Publicist John Strauss on determining a fee structure for clients
01:09
Publicist John Strauss on working with sponsors and ad agencies
02:59
John Strauss on publicizing David L. Wolper and Quinn Martin shows
01:30
John Strauss on the value of both publicity and advertising
01:43
John Strauss on the role of the publicist in smoothing over difficult interviews, with Fred MacMurray as an example
01:32
John Strauss on the importance of writing skills and imagination in succeeding as a publicist
02:25
John Strauss on the importance of a publicist winning the confidence of the media
01:55
John Strauss on advice to someone starting out in public relations
02:35

Representatives

View Profession
John Strauss on the makeup of the publicity department at Warner Bros.
01:01
John Strauss on the role of the publicity department at a studio
03:29
Publicist John Strauss on determining a fee structure for clients
01:09
Publicist John Strauss on working with sponsors and ad agencies
02:59
John Strauss on publicizing David L. Wolper and Quinn Martin shows
01:30
John Strauss on the value of both publicity and advertising
01:43
John Strauss on the role of the publicist in smoothing over difficult interviews, with Fred MacMurray as an example
01:32
John Strauss on the importance of writing skills and imagination in succeeding as a publicist
02:25
John Strauss on the importance of a publicist winning the confidence of the media
01:55
John Strauss on advice to someone starting out in public relations
02:35
Genres

Comedy Series

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John Strauss on doing publicity for The Lucy Show
01:38
John Strauss on Fred MacMurray and his unique deal with Don Fedderson Productions for filming My Three Sons
01:42

Drama Series

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Publicist John Strauss on encouraging the audience to write in to save The Waltons
02:55
People

Julie Andrews

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John Strauss on representing Julie Andrews
00:25

Army Archerd

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John Strauss on columnist Army Archerd
00:58

Desi Arnaz

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John Strauss on his personal and working relationships with Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball
04:00

Lucille Ball

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John Strauss on his personal and working relationships with Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball
04:00
John Strauss on Lucille Ball as a "tough broad" and a thoughtful friend
01:12

Saul Bass

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John Strauss on the ad created by Saul Bass that helped launched Jack Palance's career
01:40

Don Fedderson

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John Strauss on Fred MacMurray and his unique deal with Don Fedderson Productions
01:42

Sterling Hayden

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John Strauss on speaking to newspaper columnist Hedda Hopper on behalf of actor Sterling Hayden when he was suspected of being a Communist
01:06

Hedda Hopper

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John Strauss on working with newspaper columnists Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons
01:42
John Strauss on speaking to newspaper columnist Hedda Hopper on behalf of actor Sterling Hayden when he was suspected of being a Communist
01:06

Fred MacMurray

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John Strauss on Fred MacMurray and his unique deal with Don Fedderson Productions
01:42
John Strauss on the role of the publicist in smoothing over difficult interviews, with Fred MacMurray as an example
01:32

Quinn Martin

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John Strauss on his admiration for producer Quinn Martin
01:09
John Strauss on publicizing David L. Wolper and Quinn Martin shows
02:38
John Strauss on Quinn Martin's appreciation of his publicity work
01:31

Gary Morton

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John Strauss on his difficult relationship with Gary Morton
01:25

David Niven

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John Strauss on his admiration for client David Niven and why the media loved him
02:37

Jack Palance

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John Strauss on the ad created by Saul Bass that helped launched Jack Palance's career
01:40

Louella Parsons

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John Strauss on working with newspaper columnists Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons
01:42

Vincent Price

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John Strauss on his admiration for his client, Vincent Price
00:55

Ronald Reagan

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John Strauss on an interview newspaper columnist Hal Humphrey conducted with Ronald Reagan
02:14

Red Skelton

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John Strauss on representing Red Skelton
03:53

Rod Steiger

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John Strauss on his friendship with Rod Steiger, which continued even after their professional relationship ended
01:52

Jimmy Stewart

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John Strauss on his 40-year friendship and business relationship with Jimmy Stewart and how it began
03:12
John Strauss on how he helped Jimmy Stewart receive an honorary Oscar
01:03

Andy Williams

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John Strauss on how his firm lost Andy Williams as a client
01:00

David L. Wolper

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John Strauss on working with producer David L. Wolper
02:02
John Strauss on publicizing David L. Wolper and Quinn Martin shows
02:38

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