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Gene Shefrin, Class of 1937

Published in the North County Times, April 12, 2011

North County resident Gene Shefrin, an entertainment industry publicist who represented such stars as Tony Bennett and Johnny Mathis, has died at age 90.

Shefrin’s son, Paul, said his father died April 6 in Encinitas after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

During his career, Shefrin represented the likes of Guy Lombardo, Frankie Laine, Vic Damone, Perry Como, Sam Cooke, author Irving Wallace, Don Rickles, Don Adams, Richard Pryor, Jackie Mason, Peter Falk, James Caan, Monty Hall, Peggy Lee, Kate Smith, Connie Francis, Sarah Vaughan, Freda Payne and Dick Clark.

Gene Shefrin was born in New York City in 1921, graduated from City College of New York, and during World War II served in an Army Air Force bomber group.

He began his career in New York in 1945 and started his own company in Los Angeles in the 1960s. He retired in 1987.

Born Feb. 10, 1921 in New York City, Shefrin attended Townsend Harris High School and then City College of New York from which he graduated in 1942 with a bachelor of social sciences degree. He then joined the U.S. Army Air Force and was initially stationed at Randolph Field in San Antonio, Texas, and was assigned as a reporter on the base newspaper, the Randolph Rookie, according to information provided by his family.

While there, he married Sophie Schwimmer on Jan. 9, 1943. During World War II, he served in the 96th Bomber Group in England and was awarded two battle stars. He was honorably discharged in 1945.

Later that year, he started his career in public relations at Fred Stengel Associates in New York as an apprentice publicist and, the following year, he joined David O. Alber Associates. In 1963 he left the Alber company and soon thereafter moved to Los Angeles, founding Gene Shefrin Associates, which was re-named The Shefrin Company in 1976 when his son, Paul, joined the firm.

Shefrin retired to North County, primarily Carlsbad, where he lived until his death.

He was a longtime member of both The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and the Publicists Guild.

Shefrin was well-known for his sense of humor, which he maintained until his final days, his family said.

He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Sophie; his son, Paul, a longtime publicist; and his two grandchildren, Jordan and Michael.

Burial will be private. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the National Parkinson Foundation in memory of Gene Shefrin. Information is available at

Pictured above right with Dick Clark.