Jay Emmett, a prominent media and sports marketing executive who is credited with captivating audiences around the world by helping to bring Batman and Superman to life on the silver screen, died late Monday night of a heart failure at his home in West Palm Beach, Florida. He was 86. Jay is survived by his sons Steven and Andrew, and daughters-in-law Deborah, Marlene, and Geri. He leaves behind six grandchildren, Heather, Jason, Doug, Erik, Katherine, and Alex. He is preceded in death by his wife, Martha and his son, Paul. Born and raised in New York City, where he maintained a residence throughout his life, Jay and his late wife Martha relocated to neighboring Westport, Connecticut, where together they grew their family while Jay built a formidable career in motion pictures and sports marketing. They later relocated full-time to their home in south Florida. Jay's professional life spanned many industries and many decades. He got his start early, working for his uncle in a family-run comic book publishing company that owned the rights to a number of iconic superheroes including Batman and Superman. It was during his time in the family business that Jay learned the skills of marketing and licensing, which would carry him throughout his storied career and later help bring these beloved characters to life in film, while working for Warner Bros. as an executive vice president. Jay went on to found the Licensing Corporation of America, which expanded from licensing comic book and cartoon characters such as Bugs Bunny and Tweety Bird into sports marketing, leading to partnerships with Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association. In 1964, Jay joined Warner Communications, now Time Warner, where he ultimately became President under direction of the company's then-Chairman Steve Ross. As President of Warner, he oversaw soaring growth in the company's music and movie divisions during the 1960's and 1970's, and when the company established the original New York Cosmos in an effort to increase soccer fandom in America, Jay insisted they sign international soccer star Pelé. The franchise went on to draw more than 70,000 fans each game. Jay's close friendship with legendary Washington attorney Edward Bennett Williams led to his meeting Larry Lucchino, a Williams protégé. The two would become best friends as Lucchino took over the Baltimore Orioles, San Diego Padres, and Boston Red Sox. Emmett, a board member by title, helped Lucchino's clubs set historic home attendance records with each franchise. Jay was also instrumental in the development of the careers of current San Diego Padres President and CEO Mike Dee, and Boston Red Sox Executive Vice President and COO, Sam Kennedy. Jay's love of sports led him to partner with Sargent and Eunice Kennedy Shriver in the early 1970's as they worked to develop the Special Olympics into one of the most important charitable institutions in the world. The organization benefited from his leadership for decades to follow, as he served in a number of capacities, including as a member of its International Board of Directors, and as a member of the Executive, Audit & Finance and Public Education & Awareness committees. Family and friends will remember Jay for his charismatic personality, infectious enthusiasm for life, and his fearless outspoken nature. A commanding presence with a sharp wit, irreverent humor, and handsome looks, he was a source of love and laughter for so many people. His fierce loyalty and passionate devotion to those whom he loved earned him a legion of friends. In recent years, Emmett derived great pleasure from the success of his children and grandchildren. A public celebration of Jay's life will be held at Fenway Park later this summer. In lieu of flowers, the Emmett family has asked that donations be made in his name to the Special Olympics.
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Published by The Palm Beach Post from Jun. 26 to Jun. 27, 2015.
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Jay Emmett was terrific in the documentary about the Cosmos. His description of the first time he and Steve Ross went to the "hot bed" of soccer had me laughing for hours.

I was disappointed to hear of his passing. He seemed like a great guy!
June 23, 2019
Very sad to hear of Mr. Emmett's passing. He was instrumental in bringing my family and my dad Professor Julio Mazzei to this country when the Cosmos signed Pele. I was a young teenager at the time but I always remember him as a vibrant, funny and classy man. He will be missed.
Marjorie Mazzei Raggo
October 11, 2015
He truly was my mentor at Warner's
Rest in Piece Jay. :-(
September 4, 2015
Prescott AZ

News of Jay's passing reached me here a few days ago. Although we hadn't been in touch for years, the sinkhole it leaves in my formerly immutable vision of a world that included Jay, still and ever being Jay, is too wide to fill or cross.

We met and bonded in the basement office of the Taft Review, our high school newspaper. In retrospect, under the guidance of a loved English teacher/faculty adviser, Helen Griffin, the Review attracted an astonishing cohort of some of the best and brightest of Taft's 5,000+ students. Jay found his place as (What else?) our business manager. I was features editor. Our staff photographer was Stanley Kubrick. Our principal editorial writer was Leonard Sand, now the still-active Justice Emeritus for the Southern District of New York. Others became distinguished in less publicized fields.

During and after high school, for the still formative years of our lives, Jay had access to a spare '37 Studebaker belonging to his Uncle Jack. We used it to roam from Connecticut to Long Island, often double dating. He also had after-hours access to the DC Publication office in Manhattan, where we occasionally whiled away evenings, kibitzing and trying on the big leather executive chairs for size. Afternoons would often find us in a radio station sound booth watching the Superman radio series being broadcast. The director, Robert Maxwell, and his wife Jessica had taken Jay under their wing. Both influenced Jay's burgeoning creative sensitivity.

After he married Martha and they returned to New York, we again double dated. Jay was working for DC and he and Martha had set up housekeeping in an inventively converted Westport, CT barn.

Jay's favorite household toy was their new microwave oven, one of the first ever produced. He demonstrated how to cook bacon in less than two minutes so that it emerged lean, flat and nearly fat free. I use that method to this day. Dinner there was always a feast of laughter, supplemented by Martha's growing cookery skills.

Later, it was Jay and Stan who soberly delivered me, via subway, to the conscription office in Manhattan, where I was inducted into the U.S. Army on the mistaken premise that I could tip the Korean War in America's favor. By then I'd already quit an implacably boring job as an advertising copywriter to travel the world as a Pan Am steward...

The memories keep flooding back, but I'll stop here. Timothy Shriver's evocative eulogy captures my own reaction to Jay's death better than I could ever express it myself. I've saved it for a frame on my desk.

Steven, if you read this and care to share more of those memories, please get in touch.

[email protected]
August 27, 2015
i will remember my cousin Jay for the rest of my life. He was the "character cousin" growing up who was not only handsome, but had a great sense of humor. I always loved being around him mostly at Uncle Jack's house.
I will miss him

My deepest sympathy to Martha and his children,

Howard Liebowitz
July 4, 2015
Deepest Sympathies:
Patricia L. Whiteside, Appraiser
June 28, 2015
Our deepest condolences to a wonderful patient of ours. He truly was a great man! Our heart hurts for your loss.
June 26, 2015
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