Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Finding James S. Moran: The Last PR Samurai

NOTE: Just republished this post over on my new blog. Still hoping to find out more about Mr. Moran's life.

Back during the height of the boom I read a NY Times obituary on James S. Moran, who died at age 91, after a four decade career in

We give great praise to those who think "outside the box." But Mr. Moran never even set one foot inside.

His life story changed my life. But outside of his obit, I can't seem to find a lot of information about him.

According to this paper, Journalists' Hostility Toward Public Relations: A Historical Analysis, here is some of Moran's work:

"To help a dairy get a cow into print, he dyed it purple; to promote refrigerators, he traveled to Alaska to prove that he could sell an icebox to an Eskimo; and to promote the 1946 movie The Egg and I, he sat on an ostrich egg until it hatched (a feat that took 19 days, 4 hours, and 32 minutes)."

In his obit, the NY Times mentioned that Moran once had a stunt called off when he couldn't get the proper permits. To promote a movie, he wanted to use kites to fly midgets over Central Park and it seems NY city officials had a problem with that.

I paraphrase Mr. Moran's well-covered reaction: "There's something wrong with this country when a man can't fly a midget over a park on a kite."

That's a PR man's PR man. Denied his stunt, he still got the ink.

On the Internets I've only been able to find one other reference the Mr. Moran. Google Answers has someone seeking photographs:

"During the late 1930's or early 1940's an master independent publicity stunt(PR)agent named James S. Moran wanted to generate publicity for a newly released record. The record was entitled either "Shoot the Sherbert to me, Herbert" or "Pass the meatballs to me Dominick, my boy". Both records are jazz records probably done by two different musical groups; The Merry Macs and Tommy Dorsey.

"The publicity stunt orchestrated by PR agent James S. Moran, involved renting a dinning room at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in NYC. Mr. Moran brought in lots of meatballs and sherbert and people named Herbert and Dominick and then promoted the biggest food fight there ever was."

The person seeking the photos, "publicitytracker2002-ga,"never found them.

Does anyone out there have any information regarding Mr. Moran? If so, please contact me.

Where have you gone James S. Moran?/Our industry turns its lonely eyes to you/(Woo, woo,woo).