LOS ANGELES (AP) — Norman R. Brokaw, a trailblazing talent agent who represented Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Clint Eastwood and other top Hollywood stars, has died at age 89.
Brokaw's son, David, says his father died after a long illness on Saturday in Beverly Hills, California.
Brokaw ascended from the mailroom of the William Morris Agency to become its CEO in 1989. Along the way he helped steer actors to work in the fledgling television industry in the 1950s and later signed politicians such as Gerald Ford and Alexander Haig so they could chart careers after they left public service.
His television plan involved teaming up under-utilized film stars with directors who were skilled at delivering low budget movies within a few days, his family said in a news release. The formula led to the creation of early television series such as "Racket Squad" and "Public Defender."
He later represented the producers behind hit shows such as "The Andy Griffith Show," ''Gomer Pyle," and "The Dick Van Dyke Show."
He also served as Bill Cosby's agent, helping get him cast on "I Spy," which broke television's color barrier. Brokaw went on to craft deals that led to the creation of "The Cosby Show" and the comedian's lucrative work as a pitchman.
"Norman Brokaw was my friend and my agent for many years," songwriter and record executive Berry Gordy wrote in a statement. "He combined those two roles with warmth, humor, true friendship and a rare talent for people--knowing who did what best and how to put them together for success.
The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in 2010 bestowed its Governor's Award on Brokaw, the only agent to receive the honor.
Part of Brokaw's work with Monroe involved driving the actress to auditions and appearances, his family said. After one appearance, Brokaw and Monroe stopped at the Brown Derby restaurant in Los Angeles for dinner where the actress would first meet her future husband, Joe DiMaggio.
His is survived by his wife, Marguerite Longley, three sons and three daughters.
Despite his accomplishments and status in the entertainment industry, Brokaw's children described him as a loving father who put his family first.
"My father was a legend in his beloved profession but his greatness rings true by the generous spirit and enormous heart he displayed every day of his life," Joel Brokaw wrote in a statement. "He set the bar high for all of us, and we were so blessed to have him as our father."