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Veteran Hollywood Publicist Promotes Day for Friendship


Hollywood is the land of dreams, and behind the world of make believe are legions of publicists who sell the dreams to the public. Longtime Hollywood publicist Julian Myers has spent his career promoting movies and Hollywood stars, and today is promoting a new dream, based on friendship.

Now 87, Mr. Myers has worked over the years with scores of Hollywood notables, selling the actors and their movies to the public.

Always elegantly dressed with a colorful tie and a ready smile, he can be seen at important Hollywood functions, including the Oscars. Mr. Myers spends part of every day publicizing his clients, who include the veteran actor Dennis Weaver.

He spends the rest of his time these days promoting a monthly celebration that few have heard about. His own idea, it is called Amigo Day, from the Spanish word for "friend." The word has become a common greeting in California, which is just north of the Mexican border.

"Going around here in Southern California, everybody says, 'Hey, amigo.' 'How you doing, amigo?'" he explains. "And the word seems to have an extra richness and meaning. There's a certain warmth, or something, in it that transcends just being a friend. It is kind of an embracing word."

Mr. Myers wants people to embrace that spirit of friendship the first Sunday of each month, when he urges them to reach out and make a new friend, or reconnect with an old one. He says the concept is an antidote to the hatred and conflict he sees in the world.

Nearly everyone who hears of his idea thinks it is a good one. Mr. Myers is full of ideas, and has the charm and perseverance to see many to fruition. In fact, one of his first Hollywood jobs, back in the 1940s, was as an "idea man."

"Every week, or every other week, I put out something called 'In the News," Myers explains, "and it had as many ideas for movies as I could think of, usually six or seven, as many backgrounds as I could think of, as many situations, as many characters and as many incidents. And we published it at Columbia Pictures, and it went around to about 50 people, directors, producers, executives."

Later, he moved to 20th Century Fox, where he worked as a publicist for some of the top names in the business.

"We had 110 people on our contract list, everybody from Marilyn Monroe to Hoagie Carmichael and Betty Grable and Tyrone Power and Gene Tierney and Jeannie Crane, and you name them," he says.

Over the years, he would represent and become friends with Julie Andrews, Barbara Eden, and William Holden, among others.

He says he faces challenges in his new endeavor, as he tries to get "Amigo Day" widely recognized. But the Hollywood veteran has faced challenges before. He helped save a popular 1980s television show, Cagney and Lacey, from cancellation. The groundbreaking drama concerned two women detectives, and he helped mobilize the media, then got the fans involved, extending the life of the series for an extra four seasons.

One Hollywood columnist says Mr. Myers may be tilting at windmills, like the fictional Don Quixote, who spent his life pursuing impossible dreams.

Mr. Myers says he is determined to make this dream a reality. He hopes to achieve it in 13 years, by the time he reaches 100. He runs five kilometers a day on the California beach to keep up his energy, and races each year in the Los Angeles marathon.

Whether or not Amigo Day is ever widely celebrated, Mr. Myers says he is enjoying spreading the message. He especially enjoys the first Sunday of each month, when he makes a point of meeting a new friend, or calling an old one.

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