The former Beatles publicist tells GARY JAMES
what it was like to promote the Fab Four...
|Jerry Pam is an L.A. publicist
to the stars.
Back in 1964 and 1965, Jerry Pam handled publicity for The Beatles films "A Hard Days Night" and "Help!"
GJ: Mr Pam, since you handled publicity for both "A Hard Day's Night" and "Help!" you must have been an employee of United Artists Films Publicity Dept. Would this be correct?
JP: That is basically correct, yes.
GJ: So you have always been a publicist then?
JP: No. I started as a newspaper man. I started out in AustraliJP: I went out from England to AustraliJP: I was in Australia for three years and I did newspaper work. I came here (Los Angeles). I was brought over by Spiro Skourais, the president of Twentieth Century Fox to work with the International Publicity Dept. of Fox. They had the crisis and they fired everybody, so I never did start. So, my first job was on The Hollywood Reporter here. Then I got a job in The Beverly Hills Citizen. I was the entertainment editor. I also went and worked for The Valley Times, which was another daily newspaper here. Then I gave it all up and went to work in publicity. I had various partners and so forth, and I've been in publicity ever since.
GJ: So, this is all before you worked for United Artists?
JP: I never worked for United Artists - they were all clients. I had my own publicity office.
GJ: What was the name of the publicity office? Do you recall?
JP: Yeah. Jerry Pam Publicity. And I'm now Pam PR Publicity. So, I changed the name because I had a partner in between.
GJ: How was it that you were selected to do the publicity for The Beatles films?
JP: Because I knew Walter Shenson (the producer of The Beatles films).
While I was the Entertainment Editor of The Beverly Hills Citizen, I met Walter Shenson who was a publicist at ColumbiJP: He came over one day and said I want to play this photograph on your drama page with a caption. So, I used it. The next day the managing Editor called me up to his office and said you used a horizontal. I said what's a horizontal? He said this is a family newspaper. You can't have a man on top of a woman. It was the shot from 'From Here To Eternity' with Debra Carr and Burt Lancaster, which was a taboo. So I called him up and said, 'you son of a bitch you almost got me fired'. He said, 'that's one I owe you'.
Eleven years later, I get a call from him and he says, 'Jerry, what are you doing these days?' I said I'm no longer doing newspaper work. I'm doing publicity. I have my own office. I've gone through various stages. So he said, well look I'm here in London. I know I owe you one. I'm gonna do a movie and I want to know if you could handle it, handle the movie. I said yeah, I've done a couple. So, he said I'm starting the movie and he gave me the dates. I said, well who's in it? He said we've got nobody in it. I said do you have a title? He said no we don't have a title. I said, you want me to publicise a movie without a title and nobody in it? He said yeah. I said somebody's gotta be in it. He said, yeah, I got a group called The Beatles. I said I've never heard of them. He said you will, because next February they're going to be on the Ed Sullivan Show, and they're going to be gigantic.
So, the first movie was The Beatles one. So I kept his name alive in the trade papers which is what he wanted. They did their tours here, so I worked on the Dodger Stadium concert and also the Hollywood Bowl.
GJ: You didn't go on the road with The Beatles did you?
JP: No. I didn't go on the road.
GJ: Go back to when you started publicising The Beatles A Hard Day's Night. Did you become a fan of the group, or would it have mattered?
JP: Well, I was fascinated by them. If I had known then what I know now, I would've done a lot of things differently. And I certainly would've saved a lot of the memorabilia I had. I've got photographs with them. So at any rate I thought they were terrific. United Artists didn't give a shit. They had the soundtrack album and they said we'll make our money on the soundtrack album. So, we don't care if the picture works or not.
GJ: Were the Beatles personalities pretty close to what we saw in "A Hard Day's Night"?
JP: I think so, yeah. Very bright. That was the amazing thing that I felt. They were very, very bright, and fun.
© 2002 Gary James. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.
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