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Melvin Helitzer
10-18-09   -   April 11, 2009

Obituary posted by : Adrienne Helitzer ,  daughter   
Person Description

Melvin Helitzer
1924 - 2009
Melvin Helitzer, born XXX-18-1924 in Glens Falls, New York, son of Lena Hermelin and William Helitzer and brother of Bernard Helitzer, died peacefully in his sleep on April 11, 2009. Mel ("Funny Man") had a rich and rewarding life: after serving valiantly as a public relations field officer in the armed forces during World War II, Mel graduated from Syracuse University in 1948, with a degree in economics and journalism. During his professional career, spanning 69 years, he had a variety of roles. He started his career as a newspaper reporter for the Glens Falls (N.Y.) Post-Star and Times (1940-42). His "children's advertising" career spanned 30 years, beginning as public relations director of the Toy Guidance Council (1950-55); advertising director, Ideal Toy Corporation (1955-63); executive director for four television programs on ABC and NBC (1962-65), and president and CEO of Helitzer Advertising (1963-79). Among other affiliations, he was a member of the Friars' Club in New York and the Young Presidents' Organization. He received many awards for best commercials: the Brand Name award from the Advertising Club of New York, in 1970; the Golden Anvil award, PRSA, in 1963; three Clio awards and two Advertising Age awards. As a faculty member at Ohio University E.W. Scripps School of Journalism (1979-2008), he was revered by his students for his practical approach to academic training and was voted Professor of the Year in 1983. His most famous class was "Humor Writing," and it was the focus of articles in several publications: Newsweek magazine, Rolling Stone magazine which dubbed him "one of the funniest university professors in the country," and the Chicago Tribune which named him "professor of the year." Over the course of his career he published seven books about advertising, publicity, humor writing, sports promotion, retirement, and overcoming adversity; one, "Comedy Writing Secrets," was a national bestseller. Inspired by his relationship with his own daughters, Mel wrote and produced a musical about Jackie Onassis: "Oh Jackie: Her Father's Story." He was also a sought-after master of ceremonies and public speaker. Mel was an avid tennis player, even winning a doubles tournament with his step-son Ray shortly before his death. In his personal life, he was fortunate to have loved wonderful women: he spent 25 years with Judith Elden; 15 years with Harriet Page; and the last XXX years of his life with Linea Warmke. Mel was an extremely generous man with his family, his friends, his students, and even with strangers. We will all remember him as someone who made us smile. Mel is survived by many family members: his daughters Deborah and Adrienne; step-son Ray; grandchildren Nyika, Jos, Page and John; cousins Jack, Bob and Carol; nieces Jacqueline and Jennifer; nephews Kevin and Peter; and grandnephews Willie and Duff; as well as by the many other people whose lives he touched. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be sent to the Mel Helitzer Memorial Fund, Ohio University Foundation, P.O. Box 869, Athens, OH 45701.
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