David Miller, a noted advertising industry lawyer in the fifties and sixties whose skills in contentious contract negotiations with agents for Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra among many others earned him the nickname The Judge, died on Feb. 13, 1998, at North Shore University Hospital after a brief illness. He was 91 years old and lived in Great Neck.
As vice president and general counsel for the advertising agency Young & Rubicam between 1951 and 1971, Mr. Miller was a key figure behind the scenes in many of the agency's most expensive and publicly visible activities. IN 1953 Mr. Miller masterminded the contract for a telecast of A Tribute to Rodgers and Hammerstein (CK). The sponsor, General Foods, asked Mr. Miller to quickly draft a contract involving many major performers as well as Rodgers and Hammerstein themselves. As Stanley Plesent, then the agency's assistant general counsel recalls, Mr. Miller dictated a one page letter of agreement which served as the contract for the entire production, one of the era's most costly. "When you needed wisdom or a reminder of how to do things fairly, you came to The Judge," Mr. Plesent recalls.
Mr. Miller wrote and lectured extensively on advertising copyright law. After his retirement for Young & Rubicam, he continued to be a principal negotiator on behalf of the Association of Advertising Agencies of America in dealings between advertisers and the performing unions. He also continued as counsel to the law firm of Squadron, Ellenoff, Plesent & Sheinfeld.
Mr. Miller was born in Fort Worth, TX in 1906, two years after his parents arrived as refugees from czarist Russia. Settling in the small town of Mineral Wells in west central Texas, his father opened a shore store still remembered for its distinctive sign - We Give Your Feet a Fit. The first member of the family to attend college, he graduated cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Texas in 1926 and from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review from 1927-29.
Mr. Miller began his career in the legal department of two government agencies during Franklin D. Roosevelt's first administration, the RFC and the SEC. As a founding partner in the law firm Engel, Judge Miller, he began to work for Young & Rubicam in the mid forties, becoming their top lawyer in 1951.
He is survived by hs wife, Rosalie, a childhood sweetheart from Texas with whom he celebrated his 69th anniversary less than a month ago; a son, Allan D. Miller, a documentary filmmaker and winner of two Academy Awards; a daughter, Martha S. Miller of Great Neck; two grandchildren, Michael W. Miller, editor of the Marketplace page of the Wall Street Journal and Steven D. Miller of San Francisco, second violinist of the Angeles String Quartet; two great-granchildren, Isidore Durand Miller and Abigail Paul Miller; and a brother, Morris Miller of Los Angeles.