Bernie Brillstein, Ken Kragen Among First Inductees Into Personal Managers Hall of Fame

Hollywood Sign - H 2014
AP Photo/Reed Saxon

Hollywood Sign - H 2014

The group is honoring entertainment, sports and music managers it says have previously been ignored.

Personal managers who have represented John Belushi, Woody Allen, David Letterman, Alice Cooper and Lionel Richie will be among those honored for the first time by their peers with the creation of the personal managers hall of fame.

Influential entertainment and sports managers from the past and present will be inducted and celebrated by the National Conference of Personal Managers at the Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in Palm Springs at an awards ceremony April 23.

Among those in the first class to enter the new hall of fame will be the late Bernie Brillstein, manager of SNL greats John Belushi, Gilda Radner and executive producer Lorne Michaels; Charles Joffe, manager of Woody Allen, Harry Belafonte and David Letterman; and Ken Kragen, whose clients have included Burt Reynolds, Kenny Rogers and the Bee Gees.

“We’re in an industry where we seem to have an award for just about anything,” said Clinton Ford Billups Jr., president of NCOPM. “But there has never been a program to celebrate their illustrious careers.”

Personal managers play a key role in the strategy of a career but are not talent agents, who must be licensed and actually make the deals. The personal managers often also function as producers on their clients movies, TV shows, recordings and digital projects.

“A personal manger concentrates on everyone but himself,” said Billups.

There is no actual physical hall of fame at present but inductees will have their names posted on the NCOPM website. Those being honored were chosen after nominations were solicited from personal managers nationwide. The group’s board selected the honorees.

Billups says the organization hopes to create a real hall of fame building in the future.

The reception and induction ceremony will be held during the Personal Manager’s Interchange, a national conference for music, entertainment, sports and talent managers. Billups expects as many as 150 personal managers from across the nation. The program will cover education, business insight, and networking.

The first group of inductees are:

Bernie Brillstein (1931-2008): Clients included John Belushi, Jim Henson, Lorne Michaels and Gilda Radner. He also was an executive producer of Hee Haw, The Muppet Show and Saturday Night Live; and co-founder of Brillstein Grey Entertainment with Brad Grey.

Shep Gordon: Clients included Alice Cooper, Blondie, Anne Murray, Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross. Gordon was featured in Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon, a Mike Myers documentary.

Charles Joffe (1929-2008): Clients included Woody Allen, Harry Belafonte, Robert Klein and David Letterman. He managed his clients with Jack Rollins, co-founder of Rollins-Joffe Productions.

Ken Kragen: Clients included Olivia Newton-John, Lionel Ritchie, Burt Reynolds, Kenny Rogers and the Bee Gees. He was a film and television producer as well as an organizer of the We Are the World album and the $34 million charity event “Hands Across America.”

John Levy (1912-2012): Clients included Cannonball Adderley, Roberta Flack, George Shearing, Joe Williams, and Nancy Wilson. He was credited as the first African American personal manager in jazz and was a National Endowment for the Arts honoree.

Gerard “Jerry” Purcell (1915-2002): Clients included Dr. Maya Angelou, Eddy Arnold, Al Hirt, Rod McKuen and Hugo Montenegro. He was a co-producer of the Perry Como and Red Skelton television shows. Purcell was president of National Conference of Personal Managers from 1972 to 2002.

Jack Rollins: Clients included Woody Allen, Harry Belafonte, Robert Klein, David Letterman and Robin Williams. He managed these clients with Joffe.

Suzanne Schachter: Clients included Mindy Cohn, Adam Lamberg, Lea Michele and Manuel Ojeda.

Milt Suchin: Clients included Vikki Carr, Phyllis Diller, Jack Jones, Shirley Jones, and Debbie Reynolds. He is a former president of the Conference of Personal Managers West.

Mimi Weber (1927-2007): Clients included Pam Dawber, Harry Guardino, Myrna Loy and George Maharis. She was the first woman elected to the National Conference of Personal Managers.