Marty Weiser, the Hollywood publicist, was famous for his inspired premiere party for Mel Brooks’ cult film Blazing Saddles, which starred Gene Wilder and Cleavon Little. Mel Brooks took a risk when he allowed Weiser to stage this stupendous publicity stunt in a disused Drive In movie theatre.
In keeping with the film, which was a pastiche on the old Westerns, Weiser insisted everyone turn up not in cars, but on horseback. The evening itself proved to be fraught for Weiser as nobody turned up on time and the movie producers began to berate him for it being a stupid idea, believing no one would be there. However, after a few minutes, a horizon full of people appeared on horseback and trotted into the drive in. They had been shepherded and given a police escort because of causing traffic chaos, so arrived late but en masse. The stunt was a massive success and gained worldwide publicity.
Truly inspirational ideas these days get binned because of the supposed risk factor when so much money is involved. That’s why it was good to see the two live penguins ice skating at the Rockerfella Plaza in New York for the premiere of “Happy Feet”.
Weiser inspired many publicists in the 1960’s and 1970’s, but general information on these stuntsters is rare. I have been sent some material which includes information on a man called Freddie Gove, who was a mad prankster who invented crazy ideas and events to promote his clients. One of his first creations was a robotic shark that he made to promote Speilberg’s “Jaws”. He apparently pitched a man who could unravel Rubic’s cubes with his feet for a Rubic’s Cube launch.
Gove was a man with extreme genius, but also with a definite personality disorder which was revealed perhaps in his “extreme” promotional toys. To promote the first “Star Wars” movie, he invented a plug in lightsabre that actually had an electric charge. For the Freddie Krueger sequels, he designed a prototype Freddie Krueger glove, equipped with real razors for fingers. Unfortunately at the time, these were relegated to the dustbin of lunacy by the movie producers and distribution companies who he tried to sell them to, which seems incredible nowadays, as if the prototypes were available today, they would be priceless.