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Dale Olson: "I Lived My Life My Own Way"

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Courtoisie

From my 2011 interview with Dale

Between the protective in-house PR departments of Hollywood's Golden Age, and the in-your-face PR of today, lies the second generation of Hollywood elite: the post-television, Cinemascope, "in color" clan who bridged the gap between Monroe and Madonna, Brando and Brad, Double Indemnity and Double 0-7.

The "Cadillac or Lincoln" generation -- names like Rock, MacLaine, Beatty, McQueen, Eastwood and Mansfield -- experienced stardom under the bright light of the TV camera. Trip-ups and foibles were the name of the game. The public yearned for more. Survivors like Crawford tried to ignore the peering eye of the paparazzi of the 60's and 70's -- never going out looking "less-than," watching everything they uttered, chose, performed or kissed. Even then, the stark reality of age, urges, human frailty and meteoric desire led many into the mud of scandal or the glimmer of hope for an Academy Award. Enter the independent PR agent.

Dale Olson loved film. As a youngster up in the Northern Plains he ate up Garfield and Turner, Fonda and Davis, Bogart and Bacall, everyone who dared flicker in the flutter of THE FARGO theater in Fargo. Dale knew any lovers less than Gable and Lombard nicknamed "Hollywood's power couple" were simply from a PR agent's pen.

Dale Olson longed to be part of the movies. As an aspiring PR agent, Olson loved the pomp and controlled the circumstance. From his first major Hollywood position -- editor of Boxoffice Magazine -- to running his own agency, Dale Olson was a stalwart brick in the wall of cinema and American history.

As the fate of long-time friend and client Rock Hudson became public, Olson urged, poked and prodded pal President Reagan to act against AIDS. Reagan would move too little, too late. Olson acted on his own; he worked to set up the Rock Hudson Foundation for AIDS Relief. When pal Elizabeth Taylor set up the organization that became today's AMFAR, Olson threw his support behind her remarkable gravitas. With characteristic intelligence and compassion Taylor, Olson, and a handful of others put their money -- and their reputations -- behind their frustrated and angry words.

Olson continued to stand for his clients through his active involvement in The Actor's Fund. The Fund is a safety net for anyone in the entertainment industry who finds himself in need of housing, counseling, medical care, or simply a leg-up.

In 2004, The Actors Fund dedicated the lobby of its Los Angeles offices to Olson and fellow publicist Eugene (Gene) Harbin, his spouse of more than 30 years. Harbin survives him.

Dale was the voice of damage-control, the pen of Oscar campaigns, and the heart of a movement that cultivated compassion in modern Hollywood. Laughter and caring were Dale Olson's trademark, entertainment was his business.

In lieu of anything other than good memories and loving thoughts, contributions in Dale Olson's memory can be made to the Actor's Fund.