David Beckwith, a longtime publicist known for representing Elvis Presley’s Graceland Museum, died Jan. 19 after experiencing sepsis following a hip replacement surgery. He was 67.
In 1982, Beckwith was selected to open Graceland as a public museum. He assisted in the management of a press conference featuring Priscilla Presley that was attended by more than 700 members of the media. Known as the gatekeeper of Graceland, his working relationship with the museum and Elvis Presley Enterprises continued until his death.
In 1979, Beckwith initiated a longstanding sponsorship for Moet & Chandon to serve as the official champagne of the Golden Globe Awards; the partnership continues to this day.
Beckwith also represented Wolfgang Puck and Spago during his career; he worked on Puck’s Governor’s Dinner at the Academy Awards. Alongside Swifty Lazar, he organized a dinner at Spago for industry elites who would not be in attendance at the Academy Awards, but would enjoy a special dinner with the ceremony televised on large screens. Beckwith also served as publicist for Freddie Gershon and Music Theater International, helping with Gershon’s annual teacher scholarship, presented in collaboration with the Kennedy Center and Stephen Sondheim.
Beckwith was involved with LGBTQ+ advocacy throughout his life. He served on the local and national boards of the Human Rights Campaign and played a key role in bringing to life Los Angeles’ Outfest, the world’s largest LGBTQ+ film festival.
Beckwith was born on April 28, 1956 in Albion, Neb. He was a graduate of the University of Oregon, where he majored in journalism. He started off working at Rogers and Cowan in 1979 before creating his own venture, The Beckwith Company, in 1992.
Beckwith was predeceased by his parents, Ralph and Byrdie Beckwith, and his brother Doug. He is survived by his partner of 42 years and husband of 15, Dietrich Nelson.
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