Howard Atlee, Showman Who Promoted Dramas and Dogs, Dies at 97

Howard Atlee, an eclectic publicist who represented award-winning shows during a now bygone Broadway era and, as an avocation, also bred dachshunds that won best in show at dog competitions, died on March 15 in Silver Spring, Md. He was 97.

His death, in a hospital, was announced by his friend and caretaker, Harpreet Singh.

Transplanted from an Ohio city of 10,000, Mr. Atlee set his sights on Broadway after attending his first professionally staged production while serving in the Navy in Boston. After he was discharged, he was a theater major in college.

As a publicist, he would help launch the career of the playwright Edward Albee by promoting his first full-length play, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” at the Billy Rose Theater in 1962. Some critics dismissed it as salacious, but Howard Taubman raved in The New York Times that it was written by “a born dramatist” and “marks a further gain for a young writer becoming a major figure of our stage.”

Mr. Atlee also helped found the Negro Ensemble Company, which offered opportunities to fledgling Black actors and other theater professionals, including would-be publicists.

In 1956, when he was 30 and working as a press agent for a summer theater in Camden, Maine, Mr. Atlee began what became more or less a behind-the-scenes gig, even for a press agent accustomed to operating backstage.

“One day driving to the theater I saw a kennel,” he told The New York Times in 1970. “I stopped, and when I left I owned a smooth dachshund.”

Back to top button