Throughout his career, Zarem represented Alan Alda, Dustin Hoffman, Michael Caine, Cher, Jack Nicholson, Diana Ross, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, among others. He’s also known for his role in the promotion of the “I Love New York” tourism campaign although how his participation in the creation of the slogan is unknown.
He promoted major titles both on Broadway and the big screen including Tommy, Saturday Night Fever, Dances With Wolves, Scarface, and Rambo for his client Sylvester Stallone.
It was his promotion of Schwarzenegger’s bodybuilding documentary Pumping Iron that helped catapult the Austrian-born actor to the next level.
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Al Pacino played a character inspired by Zarem in 2002’s People I Know.
“I loved meeting stars. I think that’s what initiated me to doing what I’m doing,” he said on the podcast The Originals With Andrew Goldman in 2019. “Seriously, it may sound egotistical but I’ve realized late in life that I didn’t realize then—I’m actually a f***ing artist. I have a vision. Based on what I’ve felt about movie stars from the age of 5, and what I assumed correctly or incorrectly, that everybody else in Savannah felt the same way. Everyone you knew went to the movies at least twice a week.”
Zarem was born in Savannah in 1936, the city he would return to in 2010 after living and thriving in New York City for decades. He continued to be involved with the Savannah Film Festival, which he launched in 1988, until 2014. The festival honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.
In his acceptance speech, he recalled how he dreamed about Hollywood and movies while growing up in Georgia’s oldest city. “And now Savannah has become everything I dreamed about back then,” Zarem added.
His father Harry died from lung cancer when Zarem was 14 years old. Zarem never married and outlived his immediate family.