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Peggy Siegal

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Remembering Lois Smith

Posted: 10/08/2012 10:29 am

In 1977, for the entire year I sent my resume to Lois Smith, the actress, begging and hounding for a job.

Finally, the actress called me up and said I sounded like a lovely young lady but I have been writing to the wrong Lois Smith. She gave me the other Lois Smith's phone number.

I called Lois, co-owner of Pickwick Public Relations and told her the story. Lois was so charmed by my perseverance that she instantly hired me. She was my mentor and greatly influenced me with her kindness. She taught me everything I know about actors, directors, the art of promoting films. She knew better than anyone how to coach reluctant actors into doing interesting and insightful interviews.

Lois was best friends with every film critic and sort of "held their hands" as she presented her beloved clients to them. She gave the filmmakers all the praise and love they so deserved. Talent adored her.

In the summer of 1982 at Pickwick, after I helped on the release campaign of Steven Spielberg's phenomenon E.T., I moved to L.A. to work for the director as one of 13 assistants.

By September of 1982 my father financed our PR company in New York called Smith and Siegal.

We were known as "Earth Mother and the Hounder." She was a living legend and I was her hustler.

Our first film was given to us by Larry Kasdan. It was called The Big Chill. It opened the New York Film Festival and went on to be a cult classic.

At the time, Lois represented Robert Redford, Kevin Kline, Bill Hurt, Mandy Patinkin, Lisa Minnelli, Bill Murray, Meryl Streep, Robert Altman and Lord Richard Attenborough.

A Chorus Line was filmed across the street from our Broadway offices and we were on the set every day watching the difficult transformation of epic theater to film. Lois literally was next to her great friend Attenborough (who at the time was called "Sir Dickie") encouraging him every step of the way with her devotion.

I worked with Larry Kasdan, Barry Levinson, Brian DePalma, Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, Amy Irving, Richard Gere and Michael Douglas.

You can say we both represented all those people the day we went into business together. I loved working with her.

The tragedy of her life was the accidental death of her 17 year-old son Scott. He was hit in the head by a surfboard at dawn off Plum Island with his older brother Luke close by. Our entire office went to the funeral and it was like living the horror of Ordinary People.

Lois was never the same after that but she continued to mother Hollywood stars. Eventually her daughter Brooke became an actress and that brought great joy to her life.

After about three years together she went back to Pickwick to work with Pat Kingsley. I was distraught and heartbroken but was forever grateful for working with her.

Lois was a guiding angel to everyone who knew her and set a very high bar for every women in entertainment to emulate... She simply was the best.

 
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