Jerry Bick, 81, a literary agent-turned-producer who teamed with Robert Altman on “The Long Goodbye” and “Thieves Like Us,” died Monday in Los Angeles after a long illness.
A New York City native who grew up in Connecticut, Bick served in the Navy in the Pacific during WWII and studied at the Sorbonne in Paris, then taught English at the U. of Georgia after graduating from the school. He also worked as a baseball announcer in the South.
He broke into the film business as a publicist at MGM’s New York office, and in 1957, moved to Hollywood, where he worked as an agent at MCA, Goldstone/Tobias and the Kurt Frings Agency. In the early 1960s, he opened the Jerry Bick Agency, a literary office where he handled such authors as Jim Thompson and Daniel Mainwaring.
Giving up representation to become a producer, Bick, who had moved to London, in 1969 produced the German-language medieval drama “Michael Kohlhaas — Der Rebel,” starring David Warner and directed by Volker Schlondorff.
Long a Raymond Chandler enthusiast, he produced Altman’s modern-day take on Philip Marlowe, “The Long Goodbye,” with Elliott Gould, in 1973, and the following year, he and Altman reteamed on the period outlaw drama “Thieves Like Us.”
Bick produced the thriller “Russian Roulette” directed by Altman’s editor Lou Lombardo, and remade another Chandler novel, “The Big Sleep,” starring Robert Mitchum, before taking on Jonathan Demme’s “Swing Shift” with Goldie Hawn.
Due to his representation of Thompson’s titles, Bick was also instrumental in setting up the French adaptation of the author’s novels directed by Alain Corneau and Bertrand Tavernier.
A man of letters, Bick was renowned for his extensive personal library and had recently finished writing a book, “While Still France.”
Married and divorced from Louise Fletcher, the actress, and Peggy Fannin Ray, he is survived by his sons by Fletcher, John Dashiell Bick and Andrew Wilson Bick.
No funeral is planned, but a memorial service will be scheduled within the next couple of weeks.
Donations are suggested to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, 710 W. 168th St., New York City, 10032. D.C.