Howard Bragman, the veteran publicist who specialized in crisis communications and best known for guiding celebrities in coming out publicly, died Saturday night after a battle with leukemia. He was 66.
Bragman’s husband, Mike Maione, confirmed the death in a journal entry on the Caring Bridge site.
“It is with our heaviest hearts we share that our dear Howard passed away peacefully in his sleep … The enormity of our shared loss can’t be overstated,” Maione wrote. “Howard was a constant in so many of our lives and the brightest star in his wide constellation of friends and family.”
Bragman’s longtime friend, attorney and LGBTQ activist John Duran, also expressed his sadness over Bragman’s death on Twitter.
“My dear old friend for the last 30 years passed away tonight,” Duran wrote. “RIP Howard Bragman. LGBT warrior. Gentle giant. Wicked humor. Love you eternally. See you on the other side…”
Representatives for Bragman’s crisis communications firm, Labrea Media, didn’t immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for confirmation.
The list of Bragman’s Hollywood clients over the last three decades include Wendy Williams, Sharon Osbourne, Anthony Scaramucci, Steven Slater, Stevie Wonder, Chaz Bono, John Amaechi, Don Lemon, Monica Lewinsky, Joe Manganiello, Anna Kendrick, Terrence Howard and Ricki Lake.
As the go-to publicist in assisting celebrities in coming out publicly, Bragman represented actress and producer Meredith Baxter, basketball player Sheryl Swoopes, country music artist Chely Wright and NFL player Michael Sam. In 2021, he contributed a $1 million endowment to establish the Howard Bragman Coming Out Fund at the University of Michigan, from where he graduated in 1978.
“Howard Bragman was an industry leader who masterfully used the power of the press to create positive change and visibility for LGBTQ people,” said GLAAD’s president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis in as statement Sunday. “Throughout his long career, he worked with many LGBTQ notables to ensure their coming out stories were treated with dignity and created impact for the entire community. His own visibility as an out executive, paired with a trademark humor and bold approach to public relations, made unforgettable marks on media, entertainment and public relations industries.”
In addition to founding Labrea Media in 2018, Bragman formerly co-founded the marketing firm Bragman Nyman Cafarelli (BNC) in 1989, the PR company Fifteen Minutes in 2005, and was the vice chairman for the management firm Reputation.com. He also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communications. Additionally, he wrote a best-selling book via Penguin/Portfolio: “Where’s My Fifteen Minutes? Get Your Company, Your Cause, or Yourself the Recognition You Deserve.”
Born and raised in Flint, Michigan, he began his public relations career with Burson Marsteller in Chicago before relocating to Los Angeles. Bragman is due to be laid to rest in his hometown in a private ceremony this week. Per a release from his team, plans are underway for a memorial service in L.A.
Bragman is survived by Maione, his brother Alan, and nieces and nephews Adam, David, Lizzy, Ben and Julie.