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Michael Hamilburg, a veteran literary agent and producer, died Jan. 1 of complications from Parkinson’s disease at his home in Los Angeles, his wife, Susan, said. He was 82.
His father founded the Mitchell J. Hamilburg Agency with clients that including Gene Autry, Deanna Durbin and Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo).
Hamilburg kept the agency’s name after his father died and built its literary division to include such diverse clients as The Doors’ Jim Morrison (poetry), writer-director Paul Schrader, baseball legend Jackie Robinson, Sens. George Mitchell and Edmund Muskie, actor Russell Means, White House Press Secretary George Reedy, columnist Jack Anderson, attorney Vincent Bugliosi and his cousin, novelist Clifford Irving.
His wife noted that Hamilburg also put together film projects that included Von Ryan’s Express (1965), Shaft (1971) and The Yakuza (1974), on which he also served as an associate producer, and the 1987 telefilm Billionaire Boys Club.
Another of his clients was Mel Weinberg, whose escapades as a swindler turned informant served as the basis for the David O. Russell film American Hustle (2013). (Weinberg served as a technical consultant on the pic.)
Mitchell Hamilburg was a contemporary of Swifty Lazar and the flamboyant agents dating back to the 1930s. Michael grew up with the children of movie stars, went to University High School in Los Angeles and Menlo College and served in the Navy before he joined the firm.
Jim Preminger, nephew of director Otto Preminger and son of the agent, Ingo, who also grew up surrounded by Hollywood royalty, knew Hamilburg for 40 years and was working on a project with him up to a week before he died.
“As an independent away from the Hollywood mill, he never had much to fear from a boss or a competitor,” Preminger said in a statement. “He could be who he wanted to be and free to do what was right.”
In addition to his wife, survivors include his daughters Georgia and Lucy. In lieu of flowers, the family asks donations be made to the American Parkinson Disease Association in Hamilburg’s name.
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