Norman Brokaw Dies: Influential William Morris Leader Was 89
By Patrick Hipes, Anita Busch
Norman Brokaw, who pioneered the mailroom-to-agent route in Hollywood and went on to become chairman of the William Morris Agency, has died. He was 89. Brokaw was one of the last of his generation of agents of that era, working alongside Abe Lastfogel, Stan Kamen, Morris Stoller and (the often despised) Sammy Weisbord. He and Kamen basically built the William Morris television department from scratch.
Brokaw took over the career of Marilyn Monroe after his Uncle Johnny Hyde died. It was his Uncle Johnny who brought “Normie” into the mailroom at the agency. After four years slaving away there, Brokaw was promoted to a secretary and then an agent before he was hand-picked to start the television department in Los Angeles. He helped push the William Morris clients to crossover from film to TV and worked personally with Danny Thomas. Kamen worked with Sheldon Leonard. And all four — the two agents and Thomas and Leonard –became power in television. Brokaw helped put packages together for T&L Productions which produced The Danny Thomas Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Real McCoys, The Andy Griffith Show and its spin-off Gomer Pyle. He and Weisbord worked together to package popular TV shows like The Mod Squad.
He was also Bill Cosby’s agent and as such, was instrumental in getting the young comedian cast on I Spy and eventually spearheaded deals that led to The Cosby Show.
Brokaw was considered one the giants of his generation and he helped as an agent on what was a who’s who of Hollywood and beyond — among them Marilyn Monroe, Barbara Stanwyck, Loretta Young, Mark Spitz, Clint Eastwood (Len Hirshan took him over), Andy Griffith, Kim Novak, Natalie Wood, President Gerald Ford, Tony Orlando, Priscilla Presley, Tony Randall, Hank Aaron, Marcia Clark and Christoper Darden, and Brooke Shields.
Brokaw’s son, David, confirmed his father died today in Beverly Hills after a long illness.
Brokaw began working for William Morris in 1943 at 15 as its first trainee. He eventually was was elected President and CEO in February 1989, and two years later was named Chairman and CEO.
Brokaw was immensely proud of his achievements, and chafed at being overlooked as players like Michael Ovitz and Ron Meyer gobbled up attention in the 1980s and ’90s. Once, he threatened to sue a Los Angeles Times reporter for leaving him off an agency power list, raising the prospect of an unusual claim for libel by omission. Instead, he invited the reporter to lunch at the Hillcrest Country Club, and read aloud from a manuscript story of his life over desert.
In 2010, Brokaw received the TV Academy’s Governors Award on Brokaw — the only agent to be given the group’s highest honor.
BROKAW, Norman (Norman R. Brokaw)
Born: 4/21/1927, New York, U.S.A.
Died: 10/29/2016, Beverly Hills, Californai, U.S.A.
Norman Brokaw’s western – executive producer:
Four Winds – 2013