Harry Clein


“Harry” (Harold) Clein, 82, co-founder of the seminal Hollywood PR agency Clein + Feldman, and its successor Clein + White, died June 18, 2020 in Atlanta, GA at the age of 82 of chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).

Clein founded Clein + Feldman, with Bruce Feldman, in 1981, with offices on both coasts, taking on director Alan J. Pakula and Sophie’s Choice as the agency’s first client.  At a time when independent filmmaking was just gaining a foothold, the firm quickly became the innovative “go-to” shop for distributors, producers and filmmakers, helping them to break out into far wider audiences for projects once seen as specialized.

The company became Clein + White in 1989, with the addition of Cara White as a partner and the departure of Feldman for a studio career, and closed in 2000, after which Clein became a producer, marketing consultant and teacher at the Los Angeles Film School.

Among the projects represented by both companies were Oscar winners Places in the Heart, Kiss of the Spider Woman and The Trip To Bountiful; Mona Lisa, She’s Gotta Have it, Dirty Dancing, Heathers, sex, lies, and videotape, 28Up, Cinema Paradiso, Drugstore Cowboy, Gods and Monsters, Talk Radio, The Usual Suspects, The Dead, In the Company of Men, I Shot Andy Warhol, Life Is Sweet, Steel Magnolias, Gothic, The Brothers McMullen, My Own Private Idaho, The Joy Luck Club, The Player, Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise, Welcome to the Dollhouse and countless others.

In 1999, Clein became partners with Jeremy Walker to handle the Sundance launch and theatrical release campaign for The Blair Witch Project, which created a whole new genre.  The campaign they crafted integrated the internet–and the youth market it represented–into traditional public relations strategies in ways that would heavily influence movie marketing in the decade to come.

Clein was an in-demand consultant and worked on behalf of producers and directors such as Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen on the announcement of their new studio, DreamWorks SKG, Robert Cort on Mr. Holland’s Opus, Wendy Finerman and Robert Zemeckis on Forrest Gump, Steve Jobs and Pixar Studios for Toy Story, Gillian Anderson on Little Women, Tim Burton on Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns and Ed Wood, Wes Craven, Barry Levinson, Wolfgang Peterson and many others.  He also directed PR campaigns for such national cultural institutions as the American Ballet Theatre, the Independent Spirit Awards and the Sundance Institute.

In all their incarnations, Clein’s companies became renowned for cultivating a staff of writers, publicists, strategists and marketing executives who are represented today throughout the industry.  

His public relations career began when he was the first hired at Pat Kingsley and Lois Smith’s Pickwick Public Relations as an account executive/writer. There he worked with Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw, Candice Bergen, Bette Midler, Liza Minnelli, and others.

He served as unit publicist on All the President’s Men, The Jazz Singer, The Last Tycoon, Foul Play, Starting Over, Comes A Horseman, First Love and others.  He also wrote the press notes for Star Wars.

Clein, known for his encyclopedic knowledge of film and Broadway musicals, began his career in New York as a page at NBC for the Today Show. Upon moving to Los Angeles, he got a job with the Merit Detective agency, which involved posing as an employee at Disneyland for a summer. Following a brief stint at Jay Bernstein Public Relations, he spent a year working as Joyce Haber’s assistant when she was one of Hollywood’s leading gossip columnists.

He then worked as a writer for the Los Angeles Times, TV Guide, Show and Coast magazines and as motion picture editor and critic for the short lived Hollywood trade Entertainment World.

A member of AMPAS, he received the 2000 Publicists Guild Career Achievement Award in recognition of his efforts in the publicity promotion and marketing campaign for The Blair Witch Project.  In 1995 he shared, with Paramount Pictures, the Guild’s Maxwell Weinberg Showmanship award for the Forrest Gump Campaign.

Born and raised in Atlanta, GA, he attended Phillips Academy and received a BA in architecture from Yale and an MA in playwriting from Yale School of Drama.

Clein was the son of Harry and Esther Gold Clein; He is survived by his brother, Warren Clein (Carolyn) of Gladwyne, PA, nephew Donald Clein of Washington, DC, and nephew Lee Clein (Annette) of Bangor, ME.


Donations in his name can be made to the Los Angeles LGBT Center lalgbtcenter.org/
and Jewish Family & Career Services of Atlanta  jfcsatl.org