Sandy Gallin, Talent Manager, Producer and Designer of High-End Homes, Dies at 76
He guided the careers of Richard Pryor and Cher, handled Michael Jackson and Milli Vanilli in times of crisis and partnered with Dolly Parton in a production company.
Sandy Gallin, the agent and talent manager who shaped the careers of Richard Pryor, Cher, Joan Rivers and Whoopi Goldberg, partnered with Dolly Parton in a production company and produced the Father of the Bride films and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, has died. He was 76.
Gallin, more recently a designer of luxury homes for the Hollywood elite, died Friday after a long battle with multiple myeloma, according to close friend Bruce Bozzi, who took to Instagram to remember Gallin.
We lost a shining light this morning. Rest In Peace my sweet man! Amongst the gazillion memories one that always made you & I howl with laughter was when you would help me read sides at my pad on Hilldale in 1992 for auditions,give me notes & then tell me I was the worst actor ever! Sandy you loved like no other always leaving us with a belly full of joy, many adventures and fierce, loyal friendship! ...and always the best food and drinks! The parties! 4/21/17 a sad day. Fly with the Angels! It just sucks! Gone but part of me forever!
The long list of musical artists who owe Gallin a debt of gratitude includes Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, Olivia Newton-John, Donny and Marie Osmond, Mariah Carey, Patti LaBelle, The Pointer Sisters, KC and the Sunshine Band, Petula Clark and Limp Bizkit.
As a manager, the native New Yorker represented Nicole Kidman, Renee Zellweger, Lily Tomlin, Roseanne, Martin Lawrence, Paul Lynde, Howie Mandel and dozens of others.
"I look at the client as a business or industry, and the manager becomes the chairman of the board," Gallin, explaining his philosophy, told the Los Angeles Times in 1994. "You have to know the mind of the people you represent and become their alter ego. … I always try to put myself into their psyche and make decisions the way they would."
Things didn't always go smoothly. In the 1990s, he managed Michael Jackson after he was accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy and repped Milli Vanilli when they were stripped of their Grammy after it was discovered they had not sung on their hit album, Girl You Know It's True.
In 1985, Gallin launched Sandollar Productions with Parton, and their company was behind the Oscar-winning feature documentary Common Threads: Stories From the Quilt (1989), which raised global awareness about AIDS.
Sandollar also produced the 1991 and 1995 Father of the Bride movies that starred Steve Martin; another high-profile remake, Sabrina (1995); and Kicking and Screaming (1995), directed by Noah Baumbach.
Gallin served as an executive producer on Sidney Lumet's A Stranger Among Us (1992) and I.Q. (1994), starring Walter Matthau, and he co-produced Music of the Heart (1999), toplined by Meryl Streep.
Gallin also produced the 1992 movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992), which led to the long-running TV show and a spinoff, Angel; won an Emmy in 1980 for producing the telefilm The Miracle Worker, which featured Patty Duke as Anne Sullivan; and produced the 1989 HBO documentary The Diceman Cometh, starring the then red-hot Andrew Dice Clay.
Starting in the 1960s, Gallin produced many hours of variety shows and TV specials, many featuring his star-studded clients.
Gallin said he began his home-design business as "a stress reliever" while running his management and production companies. He sold properties to Marvin Hamlisch, Kenny G, Frank Sinatra and Mark Burnett, and over the past decade he did luxury renovations for Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg, Shelli and Irving Azoff, Deborah and Allen Grubman and Jimmy Iovine, among others.
"The full scope of what Gallin does for his clients is ineffable. Interior design doesn't quite cover it," Architectural Digest wrote in a March 2014 feature story. "He is part executive producer, part set designer, part decorator, part picker, part psychologist.
"All of his projects share a key quality. As Calvin Klein explains, 'Often what even great interior designers do is create a space that isn't as comfortable and warm as what Sandy does, and that is the essence of why people like his work.'"
As The Hollywood Reporter noted in October 2015: "But despite the proliferation of show business people, [Gallin's] interiors are far from showy: Think natural materials, earth tones and obsessively curated art, lighting and textiles."
Gallin also was renowned for throwing lavish parties and dinners, from Malibu to the Hamptons.
Albert Samuel Gallin was born in Brooklyn and raised in the wealthy village of Lawrence on Long Island. His father was a home builder and his mother a housewife. When he was 15, his dad filed for bankruptcy, and the family had to sell their home to cover their debts.
Growing up, Gallin was certain that he wanted to work in show business, he told the Times.
"It was the day of the pretty boy — Ricky Nelson, Frankie Avalon, Fabian — and I thought, 'I don't look like them. I am not going to make it, because I am not gorgeous,'" he said. "So I decided I would go behind the camera. [Even then] I knew I wanted to be a manager and a producer."
Gallin graduated from Boston University with a degree in public relations and communications, then landed a job in the mailroom at General Artists Corp., a talent agency.
Within three years, he had been promoted to agent and was representing the likes of Nelson, Avalon, Paul Anka, Phyllis Diller, Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Laura Nero and Joni Mitchell.
Around this time, he signed Pryor, then an unknown comic, and repped Rivers, Tiny Tim and Cass Elliot, whom he teamed with John Phillips, Denny Doherty and Michelle Phillips to create the folk rock supergroup The Mamas & the Papas.
Gallin was great at getting his acts on The Ed Sullivan Show and on other variety shows, and soon he turned to producing those shows and TV specials himself.
He moved to the West Coast and in 1970 partnered with his cousin, Raymond Katz, for their own management firm. To his everlasting regret, he spurned an offer to start a company with David Geffen, who would become one of his best friends.
After an acrimonious split with Katz, he launched his own management firm as well as Sandollar — its moniker is based on his and Parton's first names — in 1985. He also produced the Parton-starring movies Rhinestone (1984) and Straight Talk (1992).
In 1998, Gallin turned his sights on Las Vegas and created Mirage Entertainment & Sports with Steve Wynn. For Broadway, he produced Monday After the Miracle in 1982 and revivals of Hedda Gabler in 2001 and Man of La Mancha in 2002.
When Katzenberg approached him to redesign his 10,000-square-foot California ranch-style house in Beverly Hills, Gallin had a new career.
"People asked me for years about redoing their homes, but I always said no," Gallin told The Wall Street Journal in 2013. "Then the market became more tenuous, and Jeffrey asked me to do his house, and I thought it might be fun. In some ways, doing a house for another person is very similar to managing a star — they tell me what they want, and I try to figure out how to make their dream a reality."