Oscars campaign pioneer David Horowitz dies at age 86

Famed Oscar campaigner David Horowitz died at age 86 on Saturday at his home in Westwood, CA. Horowitz was involved in some of the greatest awards campaigns in recent memory, including New Line’s three “Lord of the Rings” pushes that resulted in “Return of the King” (2003) going undefeated in 11 categories to tie the Oscar record of “Ben-Hur” and “Titanic.”

He also worked on the back-to-back Best Picture victories for “Dances with Wolves” (1990) and “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991) for Orion Pictures. The “Lambs” wins were special since they honored a genre rarely recognized at the Oscars — horror — and they resulted in a clean sweep of the top five categories that has not been repeated since: Best Picture, Director (Jonathan Demme), Actor (Anthony Hopkins), Actress (Jodie Foster) and screenplay (Ted Tally).

Horowitz was renowned every year for compiling the earliest lists of Oscar frontrunners based upon the scoops he gathered from behind-the-scenes industry sources.

In addition to his work for the silver screen, Horowitz was also involved in key social and political causes, including the Civil Rights movement, Native American issues, American presidential campaigns and the state of Israel.

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Horowitz’s role as a publicist and studio executive gave him access to many leading stars and filmmakers including Woody Allen, Robert Altman, The Beatles, The Bee Gees, Harry Belafonte, Tony Bennett, Mel Brooks, George Burns, Diahann Carroll, Kevin Costner, Bette Davis, Judi Dench, Kirk Douglas, Richard Dreyfuss, Jodie Foster, Katharine Hepburn, Dustin Hoffman, Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, Dorothy Lamour, Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, The Muppets, Bob Newhart, Al Pacino, Richard Pryor, Robert Redford, Don Rickles, The Rolling Stones, Rosalind Russell, Steven Spielberg, Tina Turner, The Who, Billy Wilder, Flip Wilson and Barbra Streisand.

Among that impressive list, Horowitz had a close association with Streisand beginning with “Funny Girl,” followed by “Hello, Dolly!” “On A Clear Day You Can See Forever,” “The Owl and the Pussycat” and “What’s Up, Doc?” He also helped to promote such iconic films as “The Graduate,” “The Lion in Winter,” “The French Connection,” “All the President’s Men,” “Tommy” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and TV programs like the original “Roots,” “The Thorn Birds” and Katharine Hepburn’s “The Corn is Green.”

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Horowitz was born in New York City on July 21, 1929. He moved to the city of angles when he was 11 and, following his parents’ advice, entered UCLA as a pre-med student. When he got a summer job with an advertising agency, he realized his true passion and so he informed his parents that was done studying medicine. He later found employment with KERO-TV in Bakersfield, and after three years moved back to advertising as an account executive at the Goodman Organization, which handled Warner Bros., United Artists and American International Pictures.

He married Lynn in 1959 and after a brief period living in Hollywood, they settled in their home of 52 years in Westwood, CA. In addition to Lynn, Horowitz is survived by his sister-in-law Norma Rockman; godchildren Annelis and Will Laakko and their parents Keith and Betsy Laakko; and surrogate daughter Linda Dresie and her family.

Services will be held at Mount Sinai Memorial Park on Forest Lawn Drive in Los Angeles on Monday, July 25 at 10 a.m. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Mazon or to any charity of one’s choice. For more info, contact Carl Samrock at carlsamrock@cs-pr.com.

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