Jack Rollins, Manager to Woody Allen, Dies at 100

Courtesy of Photofest

The legendary manager-producer also worked with David Letterman, Billy Crystal and Robin Williams.

Jack Rollins, the manager-producer who helped guide the careers of talent such as Woody Allen, Robin Williams and David Letterman, died Thursday at his home in Manhattan. He was 100.

His daughter Susan Rollins confirmed the news to The New York Times. The manager and producer got his start in the management business in 1951, setting up a one-man agency in Midtown Manhattan. He thrived on discovering new talent, working with Harry Belafonte to help him develop his act before the singer left him — and shot to superstardom shortly after. Alongside longtime partner Charles H. Joffe, who co-produced most of Allen's 1970s films, Rollins became a giant of the comedy management field during the 1960s. 

Rollins inspired Allen's character in Broadway Danny Rose (1984), in which Rollins enjoyed a brief cameo. He first met Allen in the late 1950s, when Allen came to their offices hoping to get representation.

“Woody wanted merely for us to manage his affairs in a conventional fashion, to better his career as a TV writer,” Rollins told The New York Times in 1985. “Well, we just thought he had the potential to be a triple threat, like Orson Welles — writer, director, actor.”

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He began working with Williams in the 1970s, helping him control his electric performances, and soon helping him become a the sought-after TV star of Mork and Mindy. He served as executive producer of NBC's Late Night With David Letterman from 1982 to 1992. He also worked with many other big-name talents during his career including Billy Crystal, Joan Rivers, Nichols and May, Tony Bennett, Jim Carrey, Dick Cavett, Diane Keaton and Martin Short. 

He is survived by his daughters Susan, Hillary Rollins and Francesca Rollins, and four grandchildren. His wife, Pearl Rose Levine, whom he married in 1948, died in 2012.

 

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