November 18, 2018

David Horowitz, publicist for entertainers, politicians, 86

David Horowitz, a publicist who worked with President Bill Clinton, actress and singer Barbra Streisand and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, died July 17 at his Westwood home. He was 86. 

Highlights of his career occurred 20 years apart. In 1968, following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., he booked Streisand, his client, at a Southern Christian Leadership Conference benefit concert at the Hollywood Bowl. 

Two decades later, he helped Clinton, governor of Arkansas at the time, secure an appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.” Clinton had just come off an overly long, poorly received Democratic National Convention speech on behalf of 1988 presidential candidate Michael Dukakis and his performance with a saxophone during the Carson broadcast helped bring the media back into his corner.

Born July 21, 1929, in New York City and raised in Los Angeles, Horowitz graduated from University High School at age 15 and, in accordance with his parents’ wishes, entered UCLA as a pre-med student.

A summer internship in advertising changed the course of his life. He left medicine behind and began his professional career at news organization KERO-TV in Bakersfield. A position at The Goodman Organization, a now-defunct advertising agency, led to a position as filmmaker Robert Aldrich’s vice president of publicity. 

Horowitz’s posts included president of corporate entertainment, president of the film division and president of the television division at Rogers & Cowan, as well as a decade-long stint with the film studio Warner Bros. During the course of his career he worked with many stars, including Woody Allen, the Beatles, Steven Spielberg and even the Muppets, according to Carl Samrock of Carl Samrock Public Relations, a former colleague of Horowitz’s. During the 1990s, he led successful Academy Award campaigns for the feature films “Dances With Wolves,” “The Silence of the Lambs” and, later, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”

Interested in Israel, he was involved with Americans for Peace Now, which aims to bring peace to the Israelis and the Palestinians. In 1992, he offered advice to Rabin that helped the Israeli politician win re-election and, three years later, Rabin requested Horowitz come to Israel to work on a project. While Horowitz weighed the opportunity, Rabin was assassinated. 

Horowitz supported Women of the Wall, an organization dedicated to creating an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills Rabbi Emerita Laura Geller, who officiated the July 25 funeral at Mount Sinai Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills, said Horowitz was humble, despite his many achievements.

“While proud of his accomplishments, and he knew he was gifted in what he did, that isn’t where he led from,” she said. “He led from a very clear vision of a world he wanted to see happen and the role public relations could play in that role.”

He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Lynn. 

The family requests that contributions in his memory be made to MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger; the Southern Poverty Law Center; or a charity of one’s choice.