Sue Barton, who helmed the rollout of more than 50 studio films, including Academy Award winners Gandhi and Tootsie, has died. She was 79 and passed away January 5 in Monterey, CA, of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to her friend, producer Carolyn Pfeiffer Bradshaw.

The publicity and marketing veteran worked for Columbia Pictures, Universal Pictures, MGM and director Robert Altman, appearing in a cameo in his film Nashville.

Born November 26th, 1938 in Butte, Montana as the daughter of a forest ranger, Barton was an only child. She spent much of her youth with her parents in the great National Parks. From this, her life-long love of animals was born. The family moved to California in 1945, and Barton embarked on a high coutoure modeling career in the 1960s.

Barton moved to London in the 1970s, joining the public relations firm Carolyn Pfeiffer Ltd. as an associate. Among her clients were Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman, Jane Seymour, Ian McShane and directors Norman Jewison and Robert Altman.

She returned to Los Angeles as director of publicity for Altman’s production company, putting in a cameo as a publicist named, of course, Sue Barton.

In 1975, Barton became national director of publicity for Columbia Pictures, then rose to VP of publicity and promotion, east coast. That stint was followed by a move to Universal Pictures, followed by Metro Goldwyn Meyer, both in high level marketing positions.

She ended her career at a Columbia Pictures/Sony as SVP Marketing, east coast in the early 1990s.

Barton was married to screenwriter/agent/producer Richard Gregson, then to actor Billy Kirkland, now deceased. For many years she worked with Tippi Hedren on the internationally recognized Shambala Preserve.

A private memorial service at the Pebble Beach Lodge will be held in April to celebrate her life.