(March 17, 1883 – July 3, 1931)
The Public Relation Man to the Stars
He told people that he discovered Douglas Fairbanks, Marguerite Clark and Clara Kimball Young and gave Rudolph Valentino his first job. He was reported to have been the personal press agent:
a.. Setting apes and lions loose to get “The Return of Tarzan” mentioned in the press in 1918, Reichenbach hired Thomas R. Zann to check into the Hotel Bellelaire and order 15 lbs. of raw meat from the Hotel cook
c.. Having actors pose as a Turkish rescue party coming to the
d.. A lithograph of a nude girl standing in a quiet pool. The picture sold at ten cents apiece but nobody would buy it. It occurred to Reichenbach to introduce the immodest young maiden to Anthony Comstock, head of the Anti-Vice Society and archangel of virtue. Harry hired a group of boys at fifty cents apiece to stand pointing at the picture, uttering expressions of unholy glee and making grimaces too sophisticated for their years. Comstock swallowed the scene and almost choked. "Remove that picture!" he fumed, and when the shopkeeper refused, overnight, the lithograph became a vital national issue. The painting, which sold out on the art store and several million prints more. Reichenbach made $200 from his deal with the art store. The original is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art
e.. One of the actors Reichenbach worked for was Rudoff Valentino. Reichenbach convinced him to grow beard to cause a bad reaction that was followed by a good one when he "agreed" to shave it.
f.. When Reichenbach was working for actor Francis X. Bushman, he took him to see Metro Picture studio executives. He began to walk with Bushman from the railway station and dropped pennies to the street from his pocket. Lots of people followed them, picking up the coins and following them. The crowd gave the studio executives an impression that Bushman was very popular and they signed him up for a big contract.
g.. He stirred up a revolution in
But my favorite Reichenbach stunt was the writing of 50,000 letters sent to himself, folded and wrinkled and dropping them all over the city, knowing that people wouldn’t be able to resist reading someone else’s mail. The letter said: “Dear Harry, I am so blue. My wife ran off with another man. I wanted to kill myself at first, but I happened to see the movie at the
“The Half Naked Truth” was made from Harry Reichenbach’s colorful memoirs (if not always actuate) “Phantom Fame”, directed by Casey Robinson, starring Lee Tracy and Lupe Velez, filming started August 1932, at RKO, a year after his death.
In 1931, when Harry Reichenbach died he was only 49, a frail, dignified man with an impressive head of white hair. He came from
Oh, yes did you hear about the time Reichenbach, planned to have Clara Kimball Young kidnapped by Mexicans and held for ransom. Or the time he helped President Wilson end World War I? There are stories told and retold about the publicity stunts that Reichenbach pulled. I would find them more amusing if he hadn’t hurt the reputations of real people just to make a few bucks. His belief that he “Sees No Harm in a Good Fake” makes me sad.