BREAKING: Lois Smith, one of New York’s longtime top publicists and an architect of the PR powerhouse PMK, passed away this afternoon at 2 PM after suffering a brain hemorrhage. She was 85. Smith represented the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Robert Redford, Martin Scorsese, Robert Altman, Meryl Streep, Whitney Houston and Rosie O’Donnell.
Smith had accompanied her husband, Gene, to Maine where he was to receive an award for his fundraising on behalf of his alma mater Hebron Academy. They had checked into a bed and breakfast and, after she got up late last night, she tripped and fell down the stairs. She and Gene had four children: 57-year-old Eric, 46-year-old Luke, 45-year-old actress Brooke (she starred in The Silence Of The Lambs), and Scott, the latter of whom passed away in 1985.
Smith, along with Pat Kingsley, Jerry Johnson and Pat Newcombe, formed the PR company PickWick in 1969. While Smith left that part of the business temporarily to work in production at United Artists and to form a PR company with Peggy Siegel, PickWick eventually merged with Maslansky/Koenigsberg, which had been merged into PMK by the time Smith returned. She built it into a powerhouse with Kingsley and with Leslee Dart. She was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Publicists Guild in 2003.
The thing I remember most about Lois is how a quick call to confirm facts on one of her clients always turned into a lengthy conversation that ranged from her family to mine, and the state of the movie business and life in general. She loved what she did, loved her clients and the film business, and she was one of the good ones. Smith will be buried in a private ceremony and there will be a memorial sometime down the line. Her family is in the process of formalizing those details along with her former partner Dart. Deadline’s condolences are with all of them.