Harold Burson, a PR person who joined with adman Bill Marsteller to found Burson-Marsteller in 1953, is 90 years old today.

He is celebrating it with family and friends. B-M is to hold an observance at the firm in March.

The firm ranked at or near the top for many years but stopped giving out statistics in 2001. It is part of the WPP Group which, along with the other ad/PR conglomerates, said the Sarbanes-Oxley Act made it too risky to supply financial information on various units because of different accounting rules from country to country.

Be Happy and Live

Burson, discussing his long life on his blog Feb. 11, said studies have shown that “happy, agreeable people outlive those who are unhappy and angry. Also, that people who like their work have an advantage as do those who own and care for a dog.”

He has come to B-M’s offices on lower Park Ave. almost every day and has also traveled frequently.

His blog notes he never gave any thought to how long he would live and recalls that his father died at an early age—a victim of poison gas in World War I. His mother missed 90 by only a few months while one sister died at 68 and another at 79.

He feels his “greatest gift” is good health, having never had a “serious illness.” He smoked for a brief period while serving in Europe in a World War II combat engineer group, but says he never learned to inhale.

Burson believes in “preventive medicine” and urges others to do so. He cultivated a team of doctors that kept close tabs on his health including a cardiologist, gastroenterologist, dermatologist, ophthalmologist, endocrinologist, neurologist, orthopedist, dentist and periodontist. He has a yearly physical exam.