AUSTIN (KXAN) — Julian Read, an advisor to six U.S. presidents and a public relations and communications pioneer, died Saturday at Westminster Manor. He was 93 years old.
Read advised presidential campaigns for Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, as well as serving as the press secretary for former Texas Gov. John Connally.
Read was the first person to brief the media following the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas. Read was sitting in the White House Press bus just a few cars away from the assassination, and 50 years later, he wrote a book about the tragic experience titled, “JFK’s Final Hours in Texas.”
Read started his public relations firm Read-Poland Associates in 1951 after a six-year sportswriting stint for the Fort Worth Press. His first office was in a tiny one-room apartment, but his business soon boomed to four offices in Texas and one in Washington, D.C. to provide media relations counsel and creative services to clients all across the country from politicians to corporations.
He also provided public relations counsel to those in entertainment, notably Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Disney’s World On Ice and illusionists Siegfried and Roy. While working for the magical duo, one of their tigers bit him on the leg after a photoshoot, according to Read’s obituary.
During his time covering sports for the Fort Worth Press, Read did freelance publicity work for Elvis Presley, unknown on the national stage at the time.
His company merged with Burson Cohn & Wolfe Texas in 2001, 50 years after he founded Read-Poland, and he retired as chairman of the firm.
Read was born in Fort Worth and had a degree in economics from Texas Christian University. He was preceded in death by his wife of 47 years, Mary Anice Barber Read.
Read died of natural causes, his obituary said. His memorial service will be held at 10 a.m., May 13, at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.