Jeffrey Ballard, the veteran Hollywood publicist who founded Jeff Ballard Public Relations and represented many of the industry’s top talents, has died after a five-year battle with cancer. He was 64.
His death on January 30 at UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center was confirmed by Brad Bessey, spokesperson for Project Angel Food, an organization Ballard supported throughout his life.
Over the course of a four-decade career, he would represent Charlie Sheen (during both of Sheen’s Academy Award campaigns for Platoon and Wall Street), Johnny Depp, Rob Lowe, Zac Efron, Martin Sheen, Paula Abdul, Matthew Perry, Cuba Gooding Jr., Jared Leto, Betty Buckley, Cary Elwes, Rob Gronkowski, Kristy McNichol, Christopher Atkins, Willie Aames and numerous others.
In a statement to Deadline, Sheen said: “As my publicist of 37 years, it’s no secret that he had his work cut out for him. He met every challenge head on with class and patience. As my dear friend of 40 years, he was equally loyal and generous to a fault. Safe travels JB, you are sorely missed, now and forever.”
Ballard began his career as a teenager when, as a high school journalism student, he “crashed the set” of the television classic Eight Is Enough, signing his first two clients on the spot — Adam Rich and Dick Van Patten. Ballard remained involved with the company he founded until his death, working with two dozen active clients.
Once dubbed “Boy Publicist to the Stars” by veteran L.A. newsman Steve Edwards, Ballard opened Jeff Ballard PR in 1982 shortly after graduating high school. He later would say that among his fondest memories were the many hours he spent in the White House with Nancy Reagan, actively involved in her defining “Just Say No” anti-drug initiative of the 1980s.
Actor Lori Loughlin, a longtime friend of Ballard who visited him often during his final days in the hospital, said: “Jeff was a great friend and could always lift your spirits with his wicked sense of humor, which he maintained even in his darkest hours. Jeff was thankful for his blessed life, the many friends he made along the way and the opportunities that were afforded to him. I miss him very much.”
Paula Abdul wrote on Instagram: “There are no words to describe the very special friendship that Jeff and I have had over the last 4 decades. We were teenagers when we met and forged a mutual admiration as people and professionals that lasted from my Laker Girls days to present day. We worked together, played together, and knew we were always there for each other. The word love hardly describes my feelings for Jeff and the compassion I’ve had for all he has soldiered through, but I truly loved him so much. He will be missed by all whose lives he touched. His long suffering is over now, and my prayer is that he rests in peace for all eternity.”
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