Shirley Herz, Longtime Broadway Press Agent, is Dead at 87

Shirley Herz

Industry veteran had a 65-year career in the industry

Shirley Herz, the storied Broadway press agent, died of complications from a stroke Aug. 11 in New York. She was 87.

Herz, who suffered the stroke July 18, repped close to 100 Broadway productions over her 65-year career in the theater, including “Legs Diamond,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” “Dancing at Lughnasa,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Oh! Calcutta!” and the “Gypsy” revival that starred Tyne Daly. She was awarded a special Tony in 2009 and also received the Theater Hall of Fame Founders Award for her contribution to the theater.

The lobby of the Manhattan Theater Club’s Samuel J. Friedman Theater is named in honor of Herz and longtime colleague Bob Ullman, with whom she represented Josephine Baker.

Born Dec. 30, 1925 in Philadelphia, Herz attended U. of Pennsylvania but dropped out to move to New York for a career in theater. She apprenticed with legit PR maven Dorothy Ross, working on shows including 1954 musical “House of Flowers,” and was the personal press rep for Rosalind Russell.

Herz opened her own press office in 1971, working with a string of clients including Colleen Dewhurst, Arthur Laurents, Tallulah Bankhead, Edward Albee, Tennessee Williams, Peter Allen and Angela Lansbury, whom Herz recently visited in Australia for three weeks during the actress’ stint in “Driving Miss Daisy” there.

Herz also had a robust Off Broadway client list that included Irish Rep, Abingdon Theater and the Living Theater. In 1984 she repped Charles Busch’s breakout title “Vampire Lesbians of Sodom.”

She was a member of the Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers and served on its Board of Governors for many years, and was also a member of the Broadway League and, for 25 years, the American Theater Wing’s Advisory Committee.

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  1. Jon Wilner says:

    For nearly four decades Shirley was my family, my friend, my colleague. We were a team and we shared the Best of Times! Shirley treated everyone of the shows she publicized as if they were the winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and she taught me how to stick it out, to stand up for what you believe and to never let anyone down who you love. She will live on forever in my heart! When things were tough, she taught me to hang in there and always gave me my confidence back, and pushed me ahead , for four decades!

  2. intertextuality says:

    she was the best!

  3. Mark Isenberg says:

    We need a book or at least a retrospective appreciation of Shirley’s good works over the decades. How can you not admire one who started with folks like Josephine Baker,Rosiland Russell and even in her golden years, was still helping Angela Lansbury? God Bless her memory.

    • Tom Ayre says:

      Shirley (Mrs. Parker to me because we once had to share a cabiin named “The Parkers” and to each other we became “Romeo and Juliet Parker) was the most honest, loving and helpful to all person I have ever known. During a long cross-country night club tour with Kaye Ballard Shirley was the one who kept us together and on the right path. She helped me maintain my life even when my health began to fail. Now, I am still here and she has gone to press agent heaven. How we all will miss her!

      Tom “Skip” Ayre

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