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A version of this story first appeared in the Nov. 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Hollywood players are often criticized for a lack of loyalty, but the same complaint cannot be directed toward Jack Gilardi.
On Oct. 27, ICM Partners feted the veteran talent agent for his whopping 60th anniversary at the agency with a surprise announcement in a morning staff meeting followed by a Los Angeles Dodgers-themed cocktail bash at the Century City headquarters, complete with beer, Dodger Dogs, Cracker Jack and a cameo and speech from the legendary Tommy Lasorda, a longtime Gilardi pal.
Monday evening’s cocktail event — followed by a private dinner at Via Alloro (Chicago native Gilardi loves all things Italian) — featured remarks from ICM’s top brass including a lively speech from general counsel Rick Levy, who shared insight into Gilardi’s career, his skill representing talent and his love of all things baseball. He also mentioned how the beloved family man who “bleeds ICM blue” managed to make it to the milestone with one agency. (In 1954, Gilardi started at General Artists Corporation, which later joined Creative Management Associates only to see that company merge with International Famous Agency in 1975 to form ICM Partners’ direct predecessor International Creative Management.)
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During his long (and still going) career, Gilardi’s roster of former and current talent includes iconic names like Charlton Heston, Frankie Avalon, Frankie Valli, Carroll O’Connor, Telly Savalas, Jerry Lewis, Cliff Robertson, Ann-Margret, Robert Wagner, Sylvester Stallone, Shirley MacLaine, Joe Mantegna, Beverly D’Angelo and Jaclyn Smith.
While Gilardi, who married Annette Funicello and had three children with the late actress, won’t discuss his age, he did answer a few other questions from The Hollywood Reporter about his milestone.
What was most touching about your party on Monday?
I was terribly surprised. I didn’t even think about the amount of time that I’d been here. But Rick Levy called me on Sunday and asked how I was feeling because he’d heard I had a little cold and he wanted to make sure I was going to be here on Monday. … I was so proud of my associates in the meeting; they applauded and cheered. I got emotionally involved. I’m so proud of the years these people have kept me around.
What did it mean to you to have Tommy Lasorda there?
Tommy and I have been friends a long time. … Since he came out from Albuquerque, which was what? 1954. A long time. He’s always there, always a good friend. Every time I needed something, he was there.
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You’ve been in the business a long time, what accomplishments are you most proud of?
My ex-wife (Annette Funicello), who passed away, my three kids and my four grandchildren. That’s the biggest.
You’ve weathered so many changes in the agency business and even with the ownership of the agency for which you’ve worked. Why did you always stay?
Probably insecurity (laughs). … I wanted to raise a family and I was happy with what I was doing. … And with the latest changeover with Chris Silbermann and Ted Chervin … they left me alone, I related to them, they related to me and I did my business. And they were very fair to me. The group today at ICM Partners is the smartest guys I’ve ever worked with. … It’s been good vibes for me; I’ve been very happy. Have I been approached by William Morris, CAA, UTA? Yeah. But everybody said, ‘Yeah, you love it over there. You’re going to stay.’ And they’re right.
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If you could sign any new client today, who would it be?
Mark Wahlberg. You could say Leo (DiCaprio) or (Brad) Pitt, but the fact is that Mark is the guy who is coming on. And he’s really, truly a nice man.
You were called predictable and boring at your party? What fact about you would surprise people?
Some people say I was a pretty good third baseman.
And to clear things up, you hit 60 but are not retiring?
I hope not, unless they throw me out. I don’t know what I would do. … The last deal I’ll be making when I keel over will be for Frankie Avalon, who is still my client after all these years.
Also, it was said at your party that you bleed blue for ICM Partners and for the Dodgers. How difficult was it to see the World Series happening without your team?
I want to cry. What those Dodgers did this past year — coming from behind and winning the Western Division, and now. It hurt. The people who run the Dodgers now are so good. … They will win it (eventually), and they have a good shot next year — in my opinion.
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