Charlie Cinnamon: Legendary Press Agent
In 2018, JMOF-FIU presented the exhibition Charlie Cinnamon: Legendary Press Agent, with photos and artifacts representing the life and work of this remarkable man.
Curated by Jacqueline Goldstein, the show had items on loan from the Cinnamon family, and from Broadway producer and director Richard Jay-Alexander and photojournalist Manny Hernandez. Both men were friends and colleagues of Cinnamon for decades, and consider him a major influence on their lives and careers. They helped to preserve Cinnamon’s memorabilia, and were the ones who spearheaded this tribute by approaching the museum to help make the exhibition possible.
Cinnamon was the youngest of eight children born to an Orthodox Jewish family in the Bronx, where he attended the school PS 48. He served in General Patton’s Third Army and helped to liberate a concentration camp during World War II. On the G.I. Bill, he studied journalism at New York University.
Cinnamon worked until the age of 94. He presented his last press conference shortly before his death, promoting a national tour for Ali McGraw and Ryan O’Neal.
For 60+ years, he was coveted as a news promoter by the world’s biggest stars, including: Elizabeth Taylor, Johnny Carson, Tallulah Bankhead, Milton Berle, Carol Channing, Ethel Merman, Chita Rivera, Lauren Bacall, Liza Minelli, Eartha Kitt, Hugh Hefner, Princess Caroline of Monaco, Julio Iglesias, Rita Moreno and many more.
He was tapped to lead national public affairs campaigns for some of the world’s leading cultural organizations and commercial enterprises, including: the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts and its National YoungArts Foundation, the national campaign to bring the NBA franchise Miami Heat team to Florida, the launch of Carnival Cruise Lines, the New World Symphony, Broadway Across America, and Miami City Ballet.
“Ours is a history museum, and Charlie Cinnamon was the history-making equivalent for arts and culture of Florida pioneers Henry Flagler and Julia Tuttle,” explains Susan Gladstone, JMOF-FIU’s director.
The visionary always insisted on being called a ‘Press Agent,’ using the old fashioned, direct sense of the term. Press agents served as a crucial link between celebrities and the public, and the strong working relationships that Cinnamon had with these famous entertainers was paramount.
We now live in a time when everyone clamors for their 15 minutes of fame via self-promotion on social media every day. But back then, the public relied on news editors for information about entertainment, celebrities, and the arts.
Charlie was quoted as saying: “I gave many a star their star,” and there is a famous saying on Miami Beach: ‘Everyone has a Charlie story,’ because he helped so many people and cultural institutions for more than six decades.
When the City of Miami Beach launched its very own “Walk of the Stars” in 1984, the Mayor and Commissioners unanimously chose Charlie Cinnamon to be inducted as the first honoree with the inaugural star in his name.
He was indeed a star in his own right.