It’s who you know
April 08th, 2020
Born in Nanaimo in 1936, at age 84 Prudence Emery of Victoria published her mostly show-biz memoirs in Nanaimo Girl (Cormorant $24.95). After working for five years as a press secretary for the Savoy Hotel in London–and getting a kiss from Paul McCartney–she became a Hollywood publicist working with the likes of Jodie Foster, Beau Bridges, Rob Lowe, Peter O’Toole, plus Canadians Raymond Burr and David Cronenberg. She has 80 credits as a unit publicist on IMDb (the Internet Movie database).
Prudence Emery graduated from Crofton House Private School in Vancouver, B.C. in 1954 and attended UBC for two years before taking a secretarial job at the naval base in Esquimalt. She earned enough to attend the Chelsea School of Art in London, England in 1957. She returned to Canada in 1962 at age 25 and taught handicrafts to veterans at Shaughnessy Hospital in Vancouver for a summer, then took a year of teacher’s training in Victoria before heading to Toronto where she worked as scab proof reader during a strike at The Globe and Mail from 1965-1966.
Her breakthrough as a publicist occurred at Expo 67 in Montreal where she oversaw tours for travel writers and celebrities including Liberace, Twiggy, Hugh Hefner and Edward Albee. In 1968, she returned to London for a month’s visit and was offered a job as Press and Public Relations Officer at the Savoy Hotel, where she spent five years. There she crossed paths with celebrities and politicians such as Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Petula Clark, Louis Armstrong, Sir Laurence Olivier, Marlene Dietrich, Liza Minnelli and Ginger Rogers.
Emery returned to Toronto in 1973 and began working as a publicist for more than 100 film productions, travelling the globe and meeting actors such as Sofia Loren, Julianne Moore, Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Ben Affleck, Viggo Mortensen, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Lopez, Robert Redford and Jeremy Irons. She has worked for ten films directed by David Cronenberg. In 2014, at age 78, she wrote and produced the short comedy Hattie’s Heist.
In Nanaimo Girl, Emery provides anecdotes about many of the people she liked, such as Sophia Loren, Peter O’Toole, Angie Dickinson, Robin Williams, David Cronenberg and Nicolas Cage. She also highlights a few people who were not so fond of her, such as Bette Midler and Sharon Stone. In the field of literature, Emery’s long-time friendship with Krystyne and Scott Griffin is noteworthy, leading to her involvement with the launch of the Griffin Prize.