Marlene (Joan) Palmer, who worked with some of the biggest names of Canadian music, died of ovarian cancer on Saturday, December 30th, at the Victoria Hospice in Victoria, British Columbia, according to husband Phillip Hurst.
She was 62.
Unfailingly cheerful, a valued colleague, friend and confidant to all, Palmer was a much sought-after publicist and a tenacious advocate for her clients. She had an incisive wit, great creative instincts, and came from a PR tradition that the media was to be treated with respect.
At one time or another during her nearly four-decade publicity career, her client list included: Anne Murray, Bryan Adams, Loverboy, Rita MacNeil, The Rankin Family, Steve Smith (aka Red Green), Tommy Hunter, Frank Mills, and George Fox.
She also oversaw the national media surrounding the historic “Tears Are Not Enough,” the all-star charity single recorded in 1985 by leading Canadian artists, under the name Northern Lights, raising funds for the relief of the famine in Ethiopia.
Born in Chilliwack, BC, she graduated in broadcast communications from the BC Institute of Technology in Vancouver, worked at Radio Chilliwack, and then took an on-air position at a TV station in Lethbridge, AB. She next worked as an investigative journalist, and weather reporter at CHEK-TV in Victoria.
In 1979, despite having no entertainment or publicity experience, Palmer answered a newspaper ad placed by Bruce Allen of Bruce Allen Talent Promotions in Vancouver seeking a music publicist. She was hired and became an indispensable component in Allen’s management success in taking Loverboy and Bryan Adams from the ground up to global success.
After several years working at Bruce Allen Talent Promotions (which became Bruce Allen Talent) Palmer moved to Toronto to work in a mid-level executive position at CBC-TV. She was soon spotted by Anne Murray’s long-time personal manager Leonard Rambeau who hired her in 1986 to work at Balmur Entertainment Ltd. with Murray as well as with George Fox, and Rita MacNeil.
Following Rambeau’s untimely death at 49 in 1995, she married Phillip Hurst and returned to live on the west coast where she launched Palmer Publicity Ink while living in North Vancouver. In 2011, she and her family, which now included daughter Katie, moved to Victoria.
In recent years, she worked significantly with Bruce Allen Talent including continuing to oversee publicity for Anne Murray and Bryan Adams. As well, she worked extensively for Rocklands Entertainment in Peterborough, Ontario; and with Annerin Productions, a division of the Calgary-based Jeff Parry Promotions.
She continued to work on projects for Anne Murray following her retirement in 2009 and was honoured by the University of Toronto for her archive donation in November 2017.
Palmer is survived by husband Phillip Hurst; daughter Katie Hurst; mother Lorraine Palmer; and sister Sharron Forrester
A memorial service is not planned at this time though husband Phillip will organize a small gathering of local friends, mainly dog walkers. Marlene loved her dogs, Finley and Brody.
In lieu of flowers, a donation account has been set up for Marlene's daughter Katie Hurst at the Royal Bank of Canada. The bank details are Bank #: 003 / Transit #: 08340 / Account #: 5060132 / Swift Code: ROYCCAT2.