Flo Allen, Agent for Rock Hudson and Manager for Denzel Washington, Dies at 88

Courtesy of Heidi Kleinmaus
Flo Allen

She taught tennis to Humphrey Bogart, played poker with Walter Matthau and served as David O. Selznick's secretary.

Flo Allen, a Hollywood agent and manager who represented the likes of Rock Hudson, Julie Andrews, Milton Berle and Denzel Washington, has died. She was 88.

Allen died Aug. 21 of heart failure in Monterey, California, Heidi Kleinmaus, her friend and the trustee of her estate, told The Hollywood Reporter.

Allen represented Hudson for 20 years and got him what is believed to be the first million-dollar-per-episode TV deal when he starred with Susan Saint James on NBC's McMillan & Wife in the 1970s.

Later, she came out of early retirement to manage Washington's career, working with the actor as a co-producer at Sony-based Mundy Lane Productions on his films from Glory (1989) through Malcolm X (1992).

Allen also represented Richard Chamberlain, Ricky Schroder, George Peppard and William Peter Blatty, among many others, during her career. 

Born in New York City, Allen and her family moved to Los Angeles when she was young. She graduated from Beverly Hills High School, during which time she met lifelong friend Robert Wagner, then attended the University of Southern California. 

Allen was an avid tennis player, and a victory with famed entertainment attorney Greg Bautzer in a doubles tournament led to an invitation from the Shadow Mountain Club in Palm Desert for her to become one of the first female tennis pros.

As a tennis teacher, Allen volleyed with Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Jack Warner, Errol Flynn, Walter Pidgeon, Peter Lorre, Gilbert Roland, Robert Redford and Katharine Hepburn. When male actors balked at playing against a woman, Allen offered to play "double or nothing" — and often won.

She opened one of the first boutique tennis shops in the country, The Tennis Set, on the Sunset Strip.

For her next act, Allen worked as a private secretary to Gone With the Wind producer David O. Selznick and as an office administrator at the Louis Shurr Agency, then became the only female agent at the exclusive boutique agency Chasin-Park-Citron.

After 10 years there, she spent the next 10 with the William Morris Agency as a senior vice president in its motion picture and television departments.

Allen regularly played poker with Walter Matthau, Buddy Hackett and with Wagner and his second wife, Marion. Her other dear friends included Hollywood agent Wilt Melnick and his wife Viney and director Norman Jewison and his family. 

An advocate for rescue dogs, Allen retired to Pacific Grove, California, first in her own home, then as a resident of Canterbury Woods.

Services will be private. Donations in the name of Florence V. Allen may be made to Self-Realization Fellowship of Los Angeles and to Peace of Mind Dog Rescue of Pacific Grove.