Joel Coler, a long-time former vice-president of advertising and publicity for 20th Century Fox International, died at the Motion Picture & Television Fund Campus on March 13 after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 85.
Coler joined 20th Century Fox in 1964 as Director, International Advertising and Publicity, eventually working on publicity campaigns for such now-classic films as The Sound of Music, Young Frankenstein and Star Wars. In 1981 he was named vice president advertising and publicity for 20th Century Fox International, a position he held until 1992 and during which he often lectured on international film marketing at UCLA.
Coler, a popular executive with a legacy of successful publicity campaigns and worldwide friendships, was born in the Bronx N.Y. and was a lifelong member of the Bronx Boys, a close group of friends who met at P.S. 80 in the late 1930s. He graduated from Syracuse University in 1953 with a B.A. Degree in Journalism and Sociology. From 1953-1955 he served in the U.S. Air Force and earned the rank of Captain while stationed in Ulm, Germany. After his discharge he joined the NBC network as an advertising assistant, which led to a position as assistant account executive with Grey Advertising.
After his 1964 move to Fox, he eventually relocated to Los Angeles with his family in 1972. In 1992, he retired from Fox and established Joel Coler & Friends, a public relations agency that specialized in representing international film activities. Among his clients was the San Sebastian Film Festival, which he represented for 20 years, and where he was honored for his service in 2012.
Coler was very active in both community and industry affairs, serving on the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Advisory Committee as well as the Los Angeles Philharmonic Business and Professional Committee. He was a member of the Leadership Council of Cinequest, the New York Foreign Press Association and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
Coler is survived by his wife of 58 years, Sandra Coler; daughters Karen Castaneda and Linda Fields; son-in-law Jordan Fields; three grandchildren, and sister Bunny Sandler. A memorial celebration is being planned, and donations may be made to the Motion Picture & Television Fund.