Hannibal’s Mike Marx spent 30 years in California, beginning in 1969, coordinating publicity for some of Hollywood’s greatest actors.
Hannibal’s Mike Marx spent 30 years in California, beginning in 1969, coordinating publicity for some of Hollywood’s greatest actors. Throughout his career, he carried with him a 35 mm Pentax Camera, purchased during his stint with the U.S. Navy.
Over the years he photographed stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood, including Marlo Thomas, Patty Duke, Kirk Douglas, Danny Kaye, Lawrence Harvey, Dean Martin, Janet Leigh, Ann-Margaret, and his personal favorite, Steve McQueen.
He now has compiled a selection of his photos into a book, entitled “Mike Marx’s Hollywood Snapshots.” A reception is planned in his honor from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Hannibal Arts Council. The public is invited.
He compiled the book with the encouragement of his “LA Buddy,” Alan Clark, and his son Michael.
While still serving in the U.S. Navy during the late 1960s, Marx landed a job as an extra in a Steve McQueen movie, “The Thomas Crown Affair,” which was shot on the East Coast, near the Naval Base where Marx was stationed.
After the shooting for the day ended, McQueen said to Marx, “Kid, how are you getting back to town?” Marx said he planned to take the subway. “My driver has to go in anyway,” McQueen responded, “you can ride with him.”
Marx told McQueen that he was thinking of going to LA after his Navy discharge, and trying his hand at publicity. “He said come and see me, maybe I can help you out,” Marx said.
“And I did.”
By the time Marx got to LA, McQueen was ready to shoot “La Mans,” so he wasn’t able to be of assistance. But Marx was able to land a job at the largest entertainment public relations firm in the business, “Rogers, Cowan & Brenner Inc.”
In his role with the PR firm, he would accompany clients to special events, such as movie premieres, night club openings and celebrity tournaments. “They found out that I could take photos of our clients,” Marx said, so he started carrying his Pentax camera with him whenever he went out.
“I never had a class” in photography, Marx said. “It was all trial and error. I used to be with the Paparazzi. They would tell me different places to go, and I would give them a leak on where our clients would be.”
Most of the photos that Marx included in this new book were taken in the 1970s, he said.
He picked up a few funny stories and some practical advise while working in the public relations field.
“Dean Martin wasn’t the drinker everyone thought he was on TV,” Marx said. “I went to his house, and he pulled up behind me. He said ‘How are you’ like he had known me all my life. I was there to see Terri Thomas, who was visiting his house. ‘Let me get her for you,’ he said. She comes outside and I give her a note. I needed to take a message back to the firm. Her answer was ‘no.’” Marx was very impressed with the friendliness of both Martin and Thomas. “Sometimes you’d go to a house to deliver a message, and all you’d do is drop the note with a secretary.” But these two actors treated Marx with respect, and he remembers them for that.
Marx attended the Dean Martin roasts that were taped at NBC in Burbank. He took photos when Danny Kaye put his prints in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater.
“I was with Patti Duke when she got an Emmy for Miracle Worker. She was stunned. She sat there awhile; didn’t realize she had won. Then she got up to accept.
“What I found over the years is the bigger the names, the nicer they were. But,” he added, “you can always catch one at a bad moment.”
Marx left the PR firm in order to go to work another firm. “I basically represented a rock group, “Deep Purple.” Six months later, he was out of work.
He then worked for yet another firm for seven years. During that time, he also tried his hand at managing clients.
He moved back to Hannibal in 1999, after witnessing dramatic changes in Hollywood.
He still keeps in contact with a number of his Hollywood and entertainment friends. One of those friends is Alan Clark, who encouraged Mike to go forward with publishing a book.
“I got all of my negatives together, and spent much time at Broadway Photo with Steve Terry, transferring a selection of photos onto a disk.” Marx then headed to LA, where he worked with Alan and Michael Clark to produce the book. He plans at least one more paperback book featuring more celebrity photos, and eventually hopes to produce a coffee-table book of his favorite photos.