Widely loved publicist Robert Garlock died Sunday, Sept. 2, at St. Vincent’s Hospital from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was 41. Mr. Garlock, whose roster of celebrity clients included actors Hilary Swank, Clive Owen, Hugh Grant and Kate Winslet, had been at PMK/HBH for 14 years, before becoming a partner at the P.R. firm 42 West. Mr. Garlock grew up in Canal Fulton, Ohio, then moved to New York to attend N.Y.U.’s Tisch School of Arts. He never left.
“The thing I really want to emphasize is that he achieved the life he always wanted,” said longtime friend Leslie Van Buskirk, the deputy editor of TV Guide. “I heard that he asked his parents when he was 12 years old for a subscription to The New York Times. When we would travel I couldn’t get him to the country—not Umbria or Tuscany. His idea of vacation was to go to London. He wanted to live in New York, Manhattan. Movies and theater was everything to him. He had a great life. He loved his job—it confounded me sometimes, him never wanting to literally smell the roses—he just thought it was great. He loved it.”
“He was very well read, and smart,” said another longtime friend, Rachel Clarke, the former deputy editor of now-defunct Premiere. “He was also beautifully dressed. Exquisite. Always turned out—he was everything an old school publicist should be. Elegance.”
His colleague, Leslee Dart, concurred. “He had an unbelievably great sense of style,” she said. “So elegant and such a gentleman. He and Sydney Pollack were always my dates to the Oscars. He would always make me feel like the most special person in the room. I can only imagine how his clients must have felt. He loved his work more than anyone I’ve ever known. Every morning he was thrilled to come to the office.”
Indeed, by all accounts, Mr. Garlock’s work was his life, and vice versa. “He had the best client last—he got along with all of them so well,” said Ms. Van Buskirk. “Penélope [Cruz] and Uma [Thurman] were like his sisters. He was always chatting with them.” She speculated that wherever Mr. Garlock has passed, “his biggest regret is that he didn’t get to see the new theater season.”