Long-time publicist, and before that journalist, Chuck Panama died at the Motion Picture and Television Fund home in Woodland Hills on Sunday, May 13. He was 93.
During WWII Chuck was drafted into the Army Air Corps where he served as a radio man on a B-24 bomber in the Pacific. When the war ended, he moved to Los Angeles where he attended UCLA on the G.I. bill. He became sports editor of The Daily Bruin and after graduation remained close to UCLA athletics, working with the press at both the football and basketball games for over 50 years.
Chuck began his professional career as a correspondent for the Los Angeles bureau of International News Service (INS) before following his boss to the PR department at 20th Century Fox where he worked with such celebrities as Elvis Presley and Jane Mansfield. During this time, Panama became a voting member of both the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Television Academy.
After 12 years in the motion picture division at Fox, Chuck moved to independent PR, where he worked with such stars as Elizabeth Taylor, Henry Fonda and Faye Dunaway. He returned to Fox in 1976, working in the television division where he was publicist for LA Law, The Simpsons and the last seven years of M*A*S*H. Chuck was thrice recognized by the Publicists Guild for excellence in his profession: as Outstanding Agency Publicist in 1976, as winner of the Les Mason Award in 1990, and as recipient of the Bob Yeager Award for community service in 1993.
Chuck retired from Fox in 1991 but continued his PR passion as personal publicist for Fyvush Finkel, shepherding him through the press gauntlet after his 1994 Emmy win for Best Supporting Actor. He also volunteered at the Museum of Flying in Santa Monica and later at The Getty Museum.
In retirement, Chuck was an active member of the Entertainment Publicists Professional Society (EPPS) and the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters.
Panama was a warm and caring person, full of energy and always with a twinkle in his eye. He was often referred to as "Chuckles" for his sense of humor and levity.
Chuck Panama was married for 64 years to the true love of his life, Gerry. They were rarely apart yet still constantly held hands. He is survived by Gerry, their children Craig (Debbie), Cindy and Carrie (Tony) and grandchildren from Carrie: Melissa, Loren and Olivia and from Craig: Amy, Micah, Gabriel, and Benjamin.
A memorial service to celebrate Chuck's life will be held Sunday, May 20 from 2-4pm at the Saban Center at the MPTF Wasserman Campus, 23388 Mulholland Dr. in Woodland Hills, CA. Dress casual, Bruin blue and gold encouraged. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to MPTF (www.mptf.com/donate 855-760-6783) or UCLA (giveto.ucla.edu 310-794-2447).
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