Dietz c. 1920
|Born||September 8, 1896|
|Origin||New York City, U.S.|
|Died||July 30, 1983 (aged 86)|
New York City, U.S.
|Occupation(s)||Publicist, lyricist, and librettist|
Dietz was born in New York City. He attended Columbia College and then studied journalism at Columbia University. He also served as publicist/director of advertising for Goldwyn Pictures and later MGM and is often credited with creating Leo the Lion, its lion mascot, and choosing their slogan Ars Gratia Artis. In 1942, he was made MGM's Vice President in Charge of Publicity. He held that position until his retirement in 1957.
He began a long association with composer Arthur Schwartz when they teamed up for the Broadway revue The Little Show in 1929. They would continue to work on and off over the next 30 or so years. Dietz served in the US Navy in World War I and became editor of their magazine, Navy Life. During World War II, he assisted the U.S. Treasury Department with the publicity and promotion of War Bonds and created stage shows for the Coast Guard with composer Vernon Duke.
Dietz saved copies of every document relating to his career, as well as relating to the publicity campaigns of every MGM film he publicized. After his death, this vast trove of artifacts was donated to the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. The archive on Dietz constitutes its single largest archive on any person or subject.
Dietz was married three times. He married Elizabeth Bigelow Hall in 1917. They divorced in 1936. In 1930, the couple had bought a townhouse on 18 West 11th Street in Greenwich Village from stockbroker Charles E. Merrill, founder of Merrill Lynch. The townhouse was later bought by advertising executive James Platt Wilkerson, whose daughter Cathlyn Platt Wilkerson was a member of the far-left terrorist organization Weather Underground; Wilkerson's associates were assembling a bomb in the basement in 1970 when it exploded and destroyed the townhouse.
Dietz married Tanis Guinness Montagu on January 25, 1937, and had a daughter; they divorced 14 years later, in 1951. Later that year, he married the costume designer Lucinda Ballard. He died in New York City of Parkinson's disease.
The MGM Theater of the Air, dramatic anthology Howard Dietz,.
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