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Jack Gilardi, the dapper agent who spent the past 64-plus years with ICM Partners and its predecessor companies, has died. He was 88.
Gilardi died Thursday morning in his sleep at his home in Los Angeles surrounded by his family, a spokesperson for ICM announced.
He was married to the late actress Annette Funicello — he first met her on the set of her 1961 film Babes in Toyland and served as her agent and manager — from 1965 until their divorce in 1981.
Gilardi’s roster of current clients included Funicello’s frequent co-star Frankie Avalon as well as Ann-Margret, Joe Mantegna, Walter Hill and Jaclyn Smith.
Earlier, he repped the likes of Charlton Heston, Burt Reynolds, Carroll O’Connor, Shirley MacLaine, Telly Savalas, Jerry Lewis, Joan Collins, Sylvester Stallone, Frankie Valli, Faye Dunaway, Don Rickles, Cliff Robertson, Roy Scheider, Robert Wagner, Shelley Winters, Joe Mantegna, Beverly D’Angelo, Paul Anka, Don Johnson and O.J. Simpson, whom he helped break into Hollywood.
Gilardi celebrated his 60th anniversary with ICM Partners at a party in October 2014.
Born on Oct. 5, 1930 in Chicago, Gilardi hoped to become a doctor, and he attended Loras College, a small Catholic school in Dubuque, Iowa. Gilardi abandoned that career path when “I ran into organic chemistry — or it ran into me,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1989, and he graduated with a degree in business.
After being drafted into the U.S. Army, Gilardi got his first taste of show business when, while stationed at Fort Knox in Kentucky, he booked such musical acts as Duke Ellington and Ray Anthony to perform on the base.
General Artists Corp. hired him as an agent in 1954, and four years later he was transferred to its Los Angeles office, soon to be in charge of the West Coast nightclub department that covered Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe.
GAC evolved into Creative Management Associates, which merged with International Famous Agency in 1975 to form ICM Partners’ direct predecessor, International Creative Management.
“Throughout several name changes and agency buyouts, which Jack recalled with fondness as a hallmark of the ever-changing business of Hollywood, Gilardi remained a selfless colleague, devoted friend and tireless agent,” ICM said in a statement. “His consistency and passion for his clients and their careers, as well as those of his friends and colleagues, is evident in the fact that he spent his entire storied career at a single company — rare in any day, but particularly today.”
The license plate on his car read “ICM JG.”
In the 1960s, Funicello was dating Avalon as well as Gilardi, but it was the agent who got the Mouseketeer legend, marrying her in Encino on Jan. 9, 1965.
Around that time, he began as the longtime commissioner of the softball Hollywood Entertainment League. Gilardi also initiated the Hollywood Stars charity baseball game, which featured some of the biggest names in show business playing on the field at Dodger Stadium, and became great friends with legendary Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda.
He also was involved with Little League Baseball, with a field in Encino in 1985 being named Gilardi Field in his honor.
Survivors include his three children with Funicello — Gina, Jacky (now a producer) and Jason — and grandchildren Jack III, Luca, Nico and Jordan.