Howard Bragman, a decades-old entertainment PR veteran, has died of leukemia, according to an entry in his friend Mike Maimon’s journal. He was 66 years old.
“The enormity of our shared loss cannot be overstated—Howard has been a constant for much of our lives and was the brightest star in a wide constellation of friends and family,” Maimon wrote.
Braggmann’s death was also confirmed by someone who worked closely with the publicist. The news, which initially arrived via social media late Saturday, February 11, comes as a shock to the community of journalists and public relations professionals who have worked closely with Braggman in his different capacity. Bragman has worked in public relations for more than 40 years, co-founding BNC (Bragman Nyman Cafarelli), later merged with PMC, then his PR firm Fifteen Minutes, and later in life, LaBrea Media.
His clients include Cameron Diaz, Paula Abdul, Stevie Wonder, Sharon Osbourne, Monica Lewinsky, Joe Manganiello, Anna Kendrick, Terrence Howard, Ricki Lake, and Melissa Rivers, among many others. Later in his career, he dabbled in crisis management and often appeared as an expert on television, appearing as a news consultant for ABC News, as well as an on-air expert on shows such as “Good Morning America,” “Today,” and “Larry King Live.” Braggman published a book, Where’s Your Fifteen Minutes?: Get Your Company, Your Cause, or Yourself the Credit You Deserve in 2008.
Born and raised in Michigan, he graduated from the University of Michigan in 1978 and worked first in Chicago, then Los Angeles at the public relations firm Burson-Marsteller. Bragman founded Nyman Cafarelli (BNC) in 1989 and exited after it was purchased by the Interpublic Group in 2001. Bragman worked as an assistant professor of public relations at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Center for Communications from 1998 to 2003. In 2005, he launched Fifteen Minutes.
In 2010, Braggman appeared in an episode of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” as Camille Grammer. That same year, he was a guest judge on the first season of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’.
Braggmann was adept at handling public scandal for his clients – he was always readily available to the press in moments of breaking news and was well respected for his wit and insight into the spinning world. As an openly gay CEO and vocal advocate for LGBTQ causes, he has also advised a number of celebrities, including actor Meredith Baxter, basketball player Cheryl Swoopes, and country singer Chili Wright, about coming out.
In recent years, he has been active in exposing the water crisis in his hometown of Flint, Michigan, contributing to the documentary Lead and Copper by Glen Zipper and Paul Haggis.
In 2021, Bragman contributed a $1 million grant to create the Howard Bragman Coming Out Fund on University of Michigan facilities, which include Spectrum Center, an LGBTQIA+ support center, which was formed in 1970. When announcing the fund, he shared, “As a fat kid, Jew, gay in Flint, Michigan, I’ve always felt like a Martian…. This campus allows you to be yourself. It allows you to spread your wings any way you want to spread your wings. I tell people, ‘Stay strong, even when it hurts.’ And I promise you, it hurts sometimes. But there are places that will help you relieve the pain sometimes. That’s what the Spectrum Center did. That’s what Michigan did.”
Bragman continued, “I don’t care how liberal the school is. I don’t care how accepting and loving your parents are. I don’t care how ‘woke up’ times are. Coming out is the most personal journey, and it’s a challenging one.” “It is very important for students to know that they are not alone and that the Spectrum Center is there for them. … It was founded just two years after Stonewall, which we consider the birth of the modern LGBTQIA+ rights movement. So the Center is not a flash in the pan. … I want To ensure that others get the same access I did; life-changing, life-saving access.”
Additional reporting by Tatiana Siegel and Mark Malkin.
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