Luminaries from the boardroom to the courtroom feted William Morris chairman Norman Brokaw on Tuesday as the Assn. of Talent Agents celebrated its 60th anniversary.
The org gave Brokaw its lifetime achievement award at a ceremony at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Brokaw has been at WMA since he started in the mailroom on the West Coast at age 15. He has repped the likes of movie legend Marilyn Monroe, TV greats Danny Thomas and Bill Cosby, former President Gerald Ford and, more recently, ex-prosecutors Chris Darden and Marcia Clark, both of whom were at the event. (Emcee Robert Klein noted amusingly that Brokaw has repped everyone “from Menachem Begin to Kelly Lange.” )
“Fifty-four years at the same company,” said David Geffen, himself a Morris alum who presented the award to Brokaw. “These days, most clients don’t stay with one agent for 54 days. Literally, some of Norman’s clients have been with him 20, 30, 40 years.”
Geffen and others noted that Brokaw expanded the agent’s role by taking on political, media and sports figures.
“These days, we take it for granted that a media personality can successfully write a bestseller, or go from television to movies,” Geffen said. “Norman was the first agent to really understand how to expand the boundaries of talent representation across many businesses.”
Longtime family friend Marlo Thomas noted that Brokaw’s role in the spate of 1950s and ’60s series produced by her father — such as “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” — paid her way through college, and for trips “to Saks Fifth Avenue.”
In a video clip, Mary Hart did an “Entertainment Tonight” segment about Brokaw’s life and career, with further comments from former Presidents Ford, Bush and Reagan, and Barbara Walters.
In accepting the award, Brokaw said he “would do it all over again.”
“Finding talent, believing in talent, planning and developing their careers, has been the most satisfying role I’ve played and the happiest,” he said.
The ATA is a nonprofit trade association representing 100 agencies.