Stan Dragoti, ‘Mr. Mom’ Director and Co-Creator of ‘I Love New York’ Ad Campaign, Dies at 85

Dragoti also directed “Love at First Bite”

Stan Dragoti, the ad man-turned-film director who co-created the “I Love New York” campaign and is best known for his comedy films “Love at First Bite” and “Mr. Mom,” died July 13. He was in an assisted living facility and had been experiencing health issues following open heart surgery in 2014, the Hollywood Reporter reports.

Born in 1932 in New York to Albanian immigrant parents, Dragoti began his career directing commercials, most prominently for pioneering ad agency Wells Rich Greene beginning in 1966. There, he formed a creative partnership with future ad legend Charlie Moss, leading them to co-write the script for Dragoti’s debut feature film, the revisionist Western “Dirty Little Billy” in 1972.

The pair remained close after Dragoti’s departure from Wells Rich Greene in 1972. Five years later, Moss recruited Dragoti to help create the commercials for the “I Love New York” ad campaign, introduced in 1977.

Dragoti’s first success as a film director would come two years later with “Love at First Bite,” a romantic comedy starring George Hamilton as Dracula, who moves to New York City at the height of disco. It was a solid success, earning $43 million on a $3 million budget.

That same year, Dragoti was arrested in Frankfurt, Germany, after authorities discovered he was trying to smuggle 21 grams of cocaine onto a flight. He was jailed for eight weeks, but received a suspended 21-month sentence upon release. He attributed the incident to his imploding personal life, as his nine-year marriage to his second wife, model Cheryl Tiegs, was ending at that time. “I guess you could say I was not strong enough to take the pain,” he later told People Magazine.

Dragoti’s next film, the 1983 comedy “Mr. Mom” starring Michael Keaton, was also a success. His other films include 1985’s “The Man With One Red Shoe,” starring Tom Hanks, 1989’s “She’s Out of Control,” starring Tony Danza and Catherine Hicks, and “Necessary Roughness,” starring Scott Bakula.

Dragoti is survived by his wife, Yolanda.