Blog 70 Irwin Zucker is still working at 91! You can’t sum him up with one word or even one book! By Award-Winning author, adventurer and scientist MARK KINGSTON LEVIN PhD
My famous publicist Irwin Zucker of Beverly Hills, who has worked with Zsa Zsa Gabor and many other famous celebrities, is shown in September 2017 at his 90th Birthday party.
Irwin is still working hard at 91. His grandchildren surround him in the image above. “I have always liked people–you can say I’m a people person. I try to treat people nicely, something my parents taught me many years ago when they told me, ‘It doesn’t cost anything to be nice.'” His mother Yetta taught him well.
Irwin is my publicist for my trilogy 30th Century, a science fiction story with a nonviolent protagonist and theme.
He still lives in Beverly Hills near many celebrities. The legendary publicist will celebrate birthday #92 on Sept. 23, 2019. He told me, “It’s been loads of fun so far…in fact, so far, so good! And for that I’m most thankful to everyone who’s been a part of my lucky life to date!”
We are molded by the people we interact with, including our parents and siblings. Irwin was born in Brooklyn, New York, to parents who emigrated from Poland after WWI. His father Joseph and mother Yetta kept a Jewish home. Joseph was a truck driver for a laundry company while Yetta tended their home and six children: David, Aaron (who later changed his name to Ralph Richard Benson), Mildred, Irwin and his twin brother Sy, and finally Arnold.
Irwin confessed, “Neither of my parents had much education in their native land or in Brooklyn. Their dream, however, was to have all their six kids receive college diplomas –and we all did!
“Mom and Dad got married around 1920 and quickly became parents. In addition to education for their kids, they wanted us to be well fed, so there was always food on the table. Dad didn’t make much money, but he was always working.”
Irwin and his twin brother Sy attended Boys High School in Brooklyn. Other famous graduates from that school include Isaac Asimov and Norman Mailer.
My work on 30th Century was inspired by Isaac Asimov’s The Foundation series. His character Salvor Hardin was the first and only nonviolent hero I encountered in my youth. Even today Foundation is the strongest nonviolent science fiction work I can think of.
Irwin’s twin Sy battled a serious case of rheumatic fever (a strep infection of the heart or heart valve), causing him to fall a semester behind in high school and be sent to a summer camp for a hopeful recovery. Sy recovered and took summer courses to catch up. They graduated together in 1944 from Boys High School. (The war was still blazing, and I was three years old). Sy went to CCNY and then the University of Michigan and Brooklyn Law School. He eventually became an accountant and attorney in NY and CA.
Irwin ran for senior class president. “One of my campaign promises was to hold annual class reunions after graduation–which have been going on for the past 74 years. I am now working on Reunion #75 in 2019.” Where does he get the energy to handle these events?
Irwin told me, “Mom wanted me to be a dentist or doctor, but somehow I was interested in becoming a journalist, and I let my parents know that.” In high school, Irwin fell in love with his job writing for the school newspaper, first as a sports writer and then as editor. Irwin then went to NYU on a scholarship.
In 1945, Sy and Irwin were drafted into the U.S. Army. Irwin stated, “I continued my journalistic skills as a GI, editing an Army newspaper, The Camp Lee Traveler, during my first year of service. I completed my last two years of college at the University of Michigan, graduating in June 1948.”
Irwin and Sy spent the summer of 1948 touring Europe. It was a great time for bonding and seeing the world.
Irwin joked, “In the fall of 1948 I had to get serious with my career. I got a job in the mail room at a NYC TV company but was immediately fired for sticking my nose too often in the station’s PR department. I was intent on becoming a publicist.”
Irwin landed a job with a major record company, Decca Records, at $50, “after four years there I was at $55.” In 1956, the reality clicked in his mind and he formed his own public relations firm, Irwin Zucker Promotion in Motion.
Irwin and Sy must have seen the Beverly Hillbillies. Both came to California in 1956, landing clients rather easily in the music world. “Then one day Prentice Hall Book Publishing Co. from NYC called me to see if I could handle a week-long radio-TV-press campaign for a popular minister/author who was hitting the charts with a hot book, The Power of Positive Thinking.” That author was the fabulous Norman Vincent Peale—and that really got Irwin hooked on him becoming a books publicist.
“In sixty-plus years as a publicist I have represented almost 4,000 authors, among them Zsa Zsa Gabor, Miss “J” the Sensuous Woman, Helen Gurley Brown, and many other celebrities. I am also the founder of the Book Publicists of Southern California and still the guiding force behind the group after forty-three years,” Irwin says humbly.
“In the record Industry, I represented such major stars as Burl Ives, Steve Allen, Dinah Shore, and many others.
“I met my wife in California in 1956, an author named Devra Hill; we got married September 1, 1957 and have three daughters, Lori, Judi, and Shari, plus five grandchildren.”
Once settled in Los Angeles, Sy and Irwin did very well with their careers. Sy was a CPA and attorney. He never married. Sy passed away in Los Angeles in 1981 at the age of 54; evidently his rheumatic fever affected his heart. Sy and Irwin were very close. Sy had been active in the record industry, becoming VP of a successful company, Liberty Records. Sy was also a successful real estate investor.
“Ironically, my wife and I have twin daughters, Judi and Shari; Shari eventually became a mother of twin sons, Max and Miles. Seems twins run in our family.” Irwin grinned at this revelation.
“I try to enjoy life every minute of the day…I’m very, very busy with clients and friends…there’s not enough time in the day for me to accomplish everything I want to do,” Irwin said with a smile.
“My parents passed away several years ago in Palm Springs when they were around ninety.
“Unfortunately, my wife of the past sixty-one years has dementia and is residing now at a care center in Santa Barbara, near my twin daughters. I call her twice a day and visit her as often as I can. I try to inject humor in all my conversations with her.”
His family wants him to live to 100 so he can be a centenarian. “I hope not to let them down. I try to stay healthy, exercise, keep working–and visit my four doctors regularly. Surprises never cease!” Irwin said.
He has magic in his mind and body, as his twin passed away many years ago. Why is he so strong? I do not know. But I suggest we find out.
For more information about anti-aging science, look for other articles on my blog on this subject.
Mark Kingston Levin PhD author of 30th Century series book 2 30th Century: Revived, which was release on Amazon April 29, 2018.
Dr. Levin won the IRWIN for the Best Science Fiction Book of 2017 for the first book in the series, 30th Century: Escape. To read the first three chapters, see www.markkingstonlevin.com.
For questions and comments write to Dr. Levin firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Levin was born and grew up in Vermont with many winters spent in Florida as a child. As a teenager he wrote poetry, served as a lifeguard and played football. He currently enjoys sailing, exploring underwater caves, snorkeling, writing science fiction and other pursuits. After working on the Apollo and Mars projects, he returned to school to study under Nobel Laureate Paul Dirac, obtaining his PhD in 2.5 years. Dr. Levin founded two companies and served the science policy apparatus in President Ford’s administration. He has been published over 44 times in scientific literature and was awarded over 32 US patents. The science fiction writer is now emerging with his first work, a trilogy titled 30th Century.
The first award-winning book, 30th Century: Escape, is currently available on Amazon both in its original erotic form BUY HERE and the new, toned-down General Audience Edition in both Kindle and in full-color print BUY PRINT HERE. Book two in the series, 30th Century: Revived, is available HERE in both e-book and print. Book 3 in the series, 30th Century: Contact, is now available HERE!