Noted arts and entertainment publicist, Edward T. Callaghan, of Manhattan and Southampton, died in his sleep at home of complications from cancer on Saturday April 25. He was 66 years old.
Ed Callaghan, as he was generally known to press, clients and colleagues, had been a virtual fixture on the New York arts and entertainment scene, with a heavy emphasis on music and theater, since the late-1970s. He began as publicity and marketing director of the now-defunct Entermedia Theater and continued to the present—first with his company Burnham-Callaghan Associates throughout the 1980s, in partnership with Jacqueline Burnham-Kurta; then several solo enterprises; and, for the past 15 years, with his life and business partner, John Wegorzewski, in Alchimia Public Relations & Marketing. It was primarily through this final entity that Callaghan also ventured into the areas of hospitality, fashion, fine art and high-end luxury items.
Throughout his career, Callaghan personified the ultimate in show biz style and substance. His reputation for providing excellent, detailed materials to press and media, and, savvy positioning and direction to clients, was legendary. He represented hundreds of celebrities over the years, including Patti LaBelle, Rosie O’Donnell, and Loretta Devine. But he was best known for his impact on the New York club scene in the disco-driven 80s, representing The Limelight, The China Club, The Tunnel, and The Red Parrot, as well as the comedy club Catch a Rising Star.
In addition, Callaghan’s expertise launched the Kaufman-Astoria Studios (one of the first to reinvigorate film and TV production in New York); created special event opportunities for Harry Winston Jewelers–particularly the company’s “dressing” of Academy Award contenders and presenters for several years; and brought (and kept) hundreds of Broadway, off-Broadway, regional, national and touring theatrical productions on the boards. He most recently worked with numerous renowned fine artists, art galleries and art festivals.
He was a frequent contributor to Dan’s Papers’ South O’ the Highway section.
Callaghan was born and raised in the Bronx, New York (November 30, 1948), later moved to New Jersey, then returned to Manhattan. He attended All Hallows in the Bronx for 12 years and completed his formal education with a BA in Liberal Arts from Iona College in New Rochelle, NY. His first career was in education. For several years in the early 1970s, he taught at Our Lady of Victory, a K-8 Catholic elementary school in the South Bronx, serving as a teacher-of-all-subjects to seventh- and eighth-graders.
He later was the co-founder of The CORE Community School (with the inimitable civil rights head of the Congress of Racial Equality, Roy Innis).
The teacher-turned-promoter often said that teaching taught him how to communicate with “uninterested audiences” and motivate them to investigate, then embrace, information and ideas they hadn’t previously considered. While this lesson helpfully informed his later P.R. work, Callaghan’s impact on his students was profound and lasting. Just last summer, a group of his “kids” (now most in their 50s) organized a barbecue party in honor of their mentor.
Callaghan was pre-deceased by his parents, John and Theresa Callaghan and a younger brother, Gene. He is survived by his brother and sister-in-law John and MaryAnn Callaghan, sister and brother in-law Terry and John Lamberski, sister in-law Rose Callaghan, many beloved nieces and nephews and great-nieces and nephews, as well as Mr. Wegorzewski and countless friends and colleagues who mourn his too-early passing.
An open-to-the-public, closed-casket wake (9–10:30 a.m.) and funeral mass (10:30 a.m.) will be held on Thursday, April 30 at Church of Our Savior on Park Avenue at East 38th Street.