An enthusiastic party giver, Olson was also the cook at the many parties he gave at his house. According to the Los Angeles Times, he was not averse to bending the Academy rules during Oscar season. In 1987, he made 50 copies of the small independent film “Anna,” starring Sally Kirkland one of his clients, and handed them to select Academy members and major journalists. Kirkland was nominated for best actress.
Born in Fargo, North Dakota in 1934, Olson began in Hollywood as an industry journalist. He served as West Coast editor for Boxoffice magazine and worked at Daily Variety as a reporter and reviewer before becoming publicity director of the Walter Mirisch indie production company. According to Variety, he was “key” to the founding of the Los Angles Drama Critics Circle.
When he moved to Hollywood in 1951, Olson joined the Mattachine Society, one of the early gay rights organizations. After Hudson’s death, he was active in AIDS fund-raising and in the Actors Fund, a human services organization.
On July 12, Shirley MacLaine presented to Olson the Actors Fund Medal of Honor, the organization’s highest award. “He was not only an ace publicist but also a true friend to me and to so many in need in our industry,” Ms. MacLaine said on Thursday. “A great, loyal and generous man.”
Olson is survived by his partner of more than 30 years, Eugene Harbin. The couple were married in 2008.