Don Pitts, longtime voice-talent agent and radio personality, died on April 7. He was 90.
Pitts represented a who’s-who of classic voice talent, including Orson Welles, Casey Kasem, June Foray, Wolfman Jack, Mel Blanc, Paul Winchell, Janet Waldo, Gary Owens, and many more. He was well-known for his kind and friendly personality, and was much loved by his clients.
“His clients treasured him and he treasured his clients,” says Cindy Kazarian, CEO of Kazarian/Measures/Ruskin & Associates, who worked with Pitts when it was the JHR Agency in the early 1980s. Kazarian, Pammela Spencer, and Pitts purchased JHR in 1988 and renamed it Kazarian/Spencer and Associates. It later became KMR.
“He was an incredible man, very special. They don’t make them like him anymore,” says Kazarian. “He never had a mean word or negative thing to say about anybody. He was not who you would expect to be in this business. There was no cut-throating with him. He was just a genuine, generous person.”
“The client always knew he’d be their No. 1 advocate, which is key for an agent. This is not about you. This is about your client, and he had a good sense of that,” says Paul Doherty, a partner in CESD Talent Agency who worked with Pitts at JHR Agency from late 1985 until spring of 1989.
According to Doherty, Pitts didn’t become an agent until 1965, when he was almost 40. “He already had a family. He’d been on the radio, KGO in San Francisco, in the late 1940s and early ’50s. He was involved in promotional work. He even worked as a car salesman in the late ’50s or early ’60s,” explained Doherty. “I always thought his car salesman background gave him a very personal touch, and he also a very earthy quality. He was a very real, earthy guy.”
Mark Measures, president of KMR, says: “Don was and is a huge part of our 60-year legacy at KMR. Those of us who got to work with him got to see a legend in action. His dedication and advocacy for his clients runs through the veins of our agency. We will miss him dearly.”
Voiceover director Mark Evanier booked talent through Pitts. He called the agent “a complete gentlemen. A little tough around the negotiation edges at times, but that’s what a good agent does. He represented some of the best people in the business. At one time or another, he had almost all the major voice talents in the ’60s and ’70s. Before the voice business exploded, everybody was with Don Pitts.”
Pitts started out as a radio and television personality at various stations in the San Francisco area: KYA-AM, KSFO-AM, ABC-owned KPIX-TV, KGO-AM and FM, and KGO Channel 7.
He started out as an agent in 1965 with the Charles H. Stern Agency, moving to the Abrams Rubaloff Agency in 1977, before joining JHR.
According to Doherty, even in retirement, he continued to handle all of voice actress June Foray’s bookings until her death last year at age 99.
“There was no reason for anyone who knew him not to keep in touch with him because they were so fond of him,” says Doherty. “It’s remarkable to have started at 40 years old and make an almost 50-year career out of representing voice talent.”
Pitts is survived by his wife of 58 years, Gail Pitts; son David Pitts; daughter Dina Carruthers; and grandchildren Kurt, Kenton, Cameron and Kylie.
A celebration of life is planned for Sunday, May 6, at 2 pm. at the MPTF — Motion Picture & Television Fund, the Wasserman Campus, 23388 Mulholland Drive, Woodland Hills.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the MPTF Palliative Care Unit.