The famous American agent and chairman of the William Morris Agency (WMA), Norman R. Brokaw, died last Saturday after a long illness, his son David confirmed. He passed away in Beverly Hills, California.
Brokaw represented and helped shape the careers of a significant amount of television personalities such as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Bill Cosby, and Clint Eastwood. He also took part in the creation of many famous TV shows.
Mr. Brokaw started as an assistant in the mailroom of the WMA in 1943 when he was only 15 years old.
He worked at the company his whole life, getting involved in the television business and becoming WMA’s CEO and President in 1989. The company appointed him chairman in 1991.
Norman Brokaw’s legacy
Brokaw also helped shape the young television industry of the 1950’s by convincing actors to take more parts on TV shows.
A news release by the family remembered his business formula, using relatively unknown actors with skilled low-budget directors to produce TV content in the shortest amount of time.
That strategy brought classic TV dramas like ‘Public Defender’ and ‘Racket Squad’ to American audiences, along with sitcoms like ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ (with Gomer Pyle) and ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show.’
Brokaw’s dedication to the small-screen also generated a space for other types of entertainment such as sports, news, and politics.
He also helped actor Bill Cosby get cast as co-star in the 1965 secret agent show ‘I Spy.’ Cosby then became the first African-American actor with a lead role in a television drama.
In 2010, Brokaw received the Governor’s Award Emmy for his lifelong work in the entertainment industry. So far, he is the only career talent agent to receive that commendation, the highest honor awarded by The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (ATAS).
Norman Brokaw was a Family man, a professional, and a legend
Brokaw’s wife Marguerite Longley survives him, along with their three sons and three daughters. His son Joel, also in the show business, said in a statement that “his greatness rings true by the generous spirit and enormous heart he displayed every day of his life.”
Berry Gordon, musician and founder of the famous Motown label, noted Brokaw was both his friend and his agent, combining both roles with warmth and humor.
He reiterated Brokaw’s gift was his ability to tap into what people did best and how to make their talents work toward success.
Source: Associated Press