Publicist-to-the-Stars Lois Smith Dies After Accidental Fall

Lois Smith, who helped promote the careers of Marilyn Monroe, Martin Scorsese and Meryl Streep and co-founded a company that became PMK, is dead at 85

Lois Smith, the New York-based publicist who helped promote the careers of Marilyn Monroe, Robert Redford and Martin Scorsese among many others, died early Sunday of a brain hemorrhage after an accidental fall. She was 85.

Smith, along with Pat Kingsley, Gerry Johnson and Pat Newcomb, formed Pickwick Public Relations in 1969, a company that would later become PMK/HBH.

Smith (with Elliott Gould, right) and her husband Eugene Smith were visiting Hebron Academy Saturday in Maine, where they were being honored for their fund-raising efforts. During the night she fell, sustaining a head injury and was taken to a local hospital.

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Smith’s clients also included Gina Lollobrigida, Meryl Streep, Warren Beatty, Liza Minnelli and Whitney Houston.

Smith won the Publicist Guild’s Life Achievement Award in 2003. her friend Scorsese testified, “Lois stands out as a beacon in the industry,” Scorsese said at the time. “What matters to her is the art as it should be.”

Smith, who was retired at the time, expressed her disdain for the modern world of social media in a 2010 interview with BU Today.

"I’m so glad I’m not doing publicity now. Between celebrity magazines and Web sites, there’s so much out there to be filled up, so much information that has to be put out there simply because those publications exist. First of all, whatever you’re pushing, it becomes a story 30 seconds after you put it out there. I don’t care about hearing so much information minute by minute. People are desperate to fill the space they’ve got; they’ll print anything, go with anything, pursue rumors, and even create them. It’s not what I call publicity."

In addition to her husband, she is survived by three children, Eric, Luke and Brooke, and four grandchildren. Her fourth son Scott died in 1985.

Donations in the name of Lois Smith can be made to the Scott Smith Scholarship Fund at Hebron Academy, 339 Paris Road, Hebron, ME 04238; and to Friends of the Newbury Library, Lunt Street, Byfield, MA 01922.

(Home page photo by Getty Images. An earlier version of this story included a photo that was not publicist Lois Smith.)