Norman Brokaw (1927 - 2016)
By: Legacy Staff
1 year ago
Norman Brokaw, an influential Hollywood talent agent, died Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016, in Beverly Hills, California, after a long illness, according to multiple news sources. He was 89.
Brokaw’s clients included top stars like Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Clint Eastwood, and Bill Cosby. He’s the only agent to receive the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences prestigious Governor’s Award.
In 1943, he began working for the William Morris Agency in the mailroom at age 15. He eventually rose to become its CEO in 1989. It became a career path emulated by other powerful agents like Michael Ovitz, Barry Diller, Sue Mengers, and David Geffen.
His career as an agent took off with the invention of television. He began attracting film stars like Loretta Young and Barbara Stanwyck to the new medium. He would package deals including actors, writers, directors, and producers and sell them to television networks.
In the early years he was hands on, often driving clients like Marilyn Monroe to auditions and appearances. His family claimed he was having dinner with her at the famed Brown Derby restaurant the night she met her future husband, Joe DiMaggio.
Among his biggest achievements was guiding Bill Cosby into his starring role in “I Spy.” Cosby became the first African-American star on network television. Brokaw also played a part in making “The Cosby Show” a reality. The sitcom was one of the most successful in TV history.
He also pioneered the signing of nonactor talents such as sports stars Mark Spitz and Hank Aaron, and public officials like former President Gerald Ford and former U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig. He also handled book and TV deals for O.J. Simpson murder trial prosecutors Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden.
His philanthropy focused on health care, and he served on the board of directors of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. He was president and co-founder of the Betty Ford Cancer Center.
Brokaw is survived by his wife, Marguerite Longley, three sons, and three daughters.
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