Elliot R. Wax, a former television agent at William Morris and the leader of his own agency, died on May 4 from complications of kidney disease at his home in Lake Sherwood, Calif. He was 84.
Wax packaged many hit variety and comedy shows while at WMA and found success running his own firm, Elliot Wax & Associates, as well.
While in the television variety show department at William Morris, he was involved in the packaging and selling of numerous variety specials with stars including Danny Thomas, Carol Burnett, Diana Ross and the Supremes, the Jackson 5, Andy Williams, the Osmonds and Dionne Warwick. While representing writers and producers, Wax packaged variety series that included “The Carol Burnett Show,” “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In,” “The Sonny & Cher Show,” “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,” “The Redd Foxx Show” and “The Glen Campbell Show.”
While a VP at William Morris, Wax made the move into the business of packaging half-hour television. He represented Jimmy Komack and was involved with packaging shows such as “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father,” “Chico and the Man” and “Welcome Back, Kotter.” He also represented the writing team of Don Nicholl, Michael Ross and Bernie West, who had developed Norman Lear’s “All in the Family” and also created “The Jeffersons.”
Wax decided to leave the William Morris Agency in 1976, after 20 years, and open his own agency, Elliot Wax & Associates. Wax packaged and sold “Three’s Company” to ABC with Don Taffner & Ted Bergmann. Nicholl, Ross & West redeveloped the show for ABC and then exec produced the show for its entire seven-year run. Wax, along with Don Taffner, also packaged and sold “Too Close for Comfort” with his client Arnie Sultan to ABC. That show, starring Ted Knight, ran for five seasons. Wax represented many executive producer-writers who ran and wrote for network shows in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s and continued to work with his longtime client Monty Hall on the syndication rights for “Let’s Make a Deal.”
Born in New York City and a former Eagle Scout, Wax graduated from NYU and then enlisted in the Army, where he trained to be a medic.
After the Army, Elliot’s entertainment career began as a tour guide at NBC. He was recruited to the William Morris Talent Agency and started his long tenure at William Morris in the famed mailroom. After a stint as an agent in the nightclub booking department at WMA, he was transferred to California to work in the Beverly Hills office, where he began work in the TV variety department.
Wax is survived by his wife of 60 years, Barbara Levitan Wax; his son Larry and Marc Wax; his daughter Dr. Joanne Mednick and her husband, producer Scott Mednick; and seven grandchildren.