Beginning with the hit 1962 musical I Can Get It For You Wholesale, Mr. Solters—as a solo practitioner and in partnership with such publicists as Sheldon Roskin, Harvey Sabinson and Monroe Friedman—blew fanfare for literally hundreds of shows. Among them were Stop the World—I Want to Get Off; Luther; 110 in the Shade; One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest; Hello, Dolly!; Dylan; Golden Boy; The Odd Couple; Oliver!; Cactus Flower; Marat/Sade; The Apple Tree; I Do! I Do!; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead; Promises, Promises; 1776; Indians; Coco; Pippin; Mack & Mabel; and Travesties.
Many of the stars of these shows became personal clients, including Channing from Dolly! and Streisand from Wholesale.
Born in Brooklyn, the son of Russian immigrants, Mr. Solters graduated from New York University in 1941 with a degree in journalism, working part time for a Broadway press agent on the side. His education, as well as gigs as a stringer at the New York Times prior to World War II and for Stars and Stripes during the war, gave him a healthy respect for the press that aided him in his profession.
He first entered the world of publicity as partner to James J. O’Rourke in their firm, Solters O’Rourke. By the early ‘60s, he had teamed up with Sabinson and David Powers on a string of highly successful shows. Such partnerships—now common in theatre publicity — was unusual back then, when most Broadway press agents were solo fliers backed up by an ever-changing crew of underlings.
Short, with a raspy voice, and known for his good humor and his affinity with a good story, Mr. Solter did not limit himself to the theatre, but kept his hand in many fields, representing films; movie stars (Gregory Peck, Cary Grant); recording artists (Bette Midler, Dolly Parton, George Benson); rock groups (Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney and Wings); television shows (“Dallas”); circuses; and even, at one point, the city of Las Vegas. He met his most famous client in 1965, when he was representing Caesars Palace. Solters suggested to headliner Frank Sinatra that his current press agent wasn’t what he should be. Asked what he’d do instead, Mr. Solters told the singer that, during an upcoming concert tour, he’d "invite two leading columnists, five minutes before you go on, to visit in your dressing room. You give this guy the rare opportunity to see you face to face." He made good on the promise, racking up a stack of flattering write-ups for Sinatra. By the time the vocalist finished the tour and came back to Caesars Palaces, Mr. Solters had been taken on as his new publicist. Having Sinatra as a client gave him a new cachet, causing many other talents to sign up with him.
Sinatra stayed with Solters for 26 years, eventually leaving him for a young press agent: Susan Reynolds, Lee’s daughter.
He is survived by his daughter, Ms. Reynolds, and son, Larry Solters. Funeral services are private.