03 Apr Senior in Action – Irwin Zucker
Marilee Marrero Stefenhagen
Former County of LA Public Library Administrator is having the time of her life as a retiree; meeting fascinating people who are active seniors, and volunteering for Soroptimist International of Norwalk and other women’s groups.
Senior in Action – Irwin Zucker
Talk about a positive thinker! Irwin Zucker fits that description perfectly. He works ‘round the clock as a book publicist at his home-based business, Promotion in Motion. He still drives at age 92, and only recently sold his offices in Hollywood. Irwin says there’s one unanticipated hazard of working at home – raiding the refrigerator has led to a little weight gain. He compares his publicist role to a juggler; he hurls books into the air via radio or television interviews and print media ads, hoping that sales take off so the books don’t fall flat. Always a promoter, Irwin named three new books by current clients: 1) 30th Century: Revived by science fiction author Mark Kingston Levin, 2) Better with Age: Psychology of Successful Aging by Alan D. Kastel, PhD, and 3) Angels in the Sky: How a Band of Volunteer Airmen Saved the New State of Israel by Robert Gandt. Just picture those books circling nonstop from Irwin’s palms into the air!
Throughout his school years in Brooklyn, NY, Irwin Zucker loved words. He developed a habit continuing to this day of looking up unfamiliar words in the dictionary. Irwin attended an all-boys’ school, Brooklyn High School. He enjoyed the study of linguistics, and learned French and Latin. His parents, Joseph and Yetta Zucker, emigrated from Poland. Home-cooked meals shared at table with his parents and five siblings were an old world tradition continued in the new world. His parents taught him, “It doesn’t cost anything to be nice.” That mantra has been Irwin’s guiding light.
In 1944, Irwin attended New York University on scholarship at age 17. However, he was drafted into the U.S. Army a year later. World War II had just ended, and he was sent to Camp Lee, Virginia for military training. As all soldiers know, “Volunteer for nothing.” However, Irwin invested his love of words into the Army’s newsletter when given the opportunity. During the months he edited the newsletter, he interviewed a GI who’d played football at University of Michigan. This scholar-athlete impressed Irwin, who then decided to apply to University of Michigan. U of M accepted his application, and Irwin enrolled in early 1946. He graduated in 1948 with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism.
Irwin hired on at a TV station earning $23 a week. From there, he promoted music albums for Decca Records, Billboard magazine, and other music companies. In 1957, he talked his twin brother into moving to California, where he set up his own business, Promotion in Motion. Over the course of his career, he transitioned from promoting records to promoting books, and has represented almost 4000 authors. The slogan on his business card quipped, “We make unknowns out of the stars.”
Irwin is writing a book about the many authors he represented, titled Greats and Ingrates – and You’re In It! The first author he publicized was Norman Vincent Peale and his book The Power of Positive Thinking. Other clients included Steve Allen, Jacqueline Susann, Dinah Shore, Burl Ives, Veronica Lake, and Zsa Zsa Gabor. But his all-time favorite author is Helen Gurley Brown, author of Sex and the Single Girl, who later became Editor-In-Chief of Cosmopolitan magazine.
Irwin met his wife Devra in Palm Springs. They dated in Los Angeles and were married on September 1, 1957. His genes ultimately led to three generations of twins: his identical twin daughters Shari and Judi, and his twin grandsons Max and Miles, plus 3 other grandchildren.
Irwin invites you to meet him on April 13 and 14 at Booth #933 – Book Publicists of Southern California at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, on the campus of USC. Irwin founded this association of book publicists in 1976 and served as its president for 18 years. The next meeting of Book Publicists of Southern California will be Thurs., April 4, 2019 at Sportsmen’s Lodge Hotel, 12833 Ventura Blvd, in Studio City. Doors open at 5:30, dinner at 7. Tickets $40. Call 323-461-3921 for reservations. Visit http://www.bookpublicists.org