May 10, 2004 by

Phil Gersh

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During his 60 years in show business, Hollywood agent Phil Gersh represented dozens of actors and directors. Humphrey Bogart, Lloyd Bridges, Harrison Ford, Karl Malden and Robert Wise all depended on his ability to find the perfect role or movie project and seal the deal with the studios.
“He was a terrific negotiator. He was a good friend, very loyal. You could depend on him … He was part of Hollywood when Hollywood was romantic; it’s not romantic today, it’s all business,” said William A. Fraker, a six-time Oscar-nominated cinematographer.
Born in New York City to Russian immigrants, Gersh moved to California after his sister married Paramount executive and agent Sam Jaffe. He attended UCLA and worked in the Paramount prop department before joining Jaffe’s agency as an errand boy. There Gersh worked his way up the ranks, and soon became an agent representing up-and-coming directors.
Gersh served in the U.S. Army, fighting in Italy and North Africa during World War II. When he returned to the states, he spent four years as an agent with the Famous Artists Agency, then went into the business for himself. Over the next five decades, The Phil Gersh Agency became a driving force in Hollywood.
Gersh’s son Bob joined the Beverly Hills talent agency in the late 1970s, and represented actors like Michael J. Fox, Dennis Quaid and Cindy Williams. His son David opened the firm’s New York office in 1992 and expanded its literary department. The family business was renamed in the early 1990s to The Gersh Agency.
Gersh died on May 10 of natural causes. He was 92.

3 Responses to Phil Gersh

  1. Corinne Rodriguez

    I met Phil in 1991. I had just finished work on Die Hard II. As always I complained of the part I received. I told him there were never ever good parts for Hispanics to break through the barrier in Hollywood.
    Phil told me to stop complaining and start writing. I took his advise and started writing.
    Last year (2003) I gave him a copy of my first script. The first read of the script he said, was full of passion. He knew I had it in my heart to become a writer.
    Two months after he had my script, F. Murray Abraham sent a letter of interest to be in the movie. Since then I received one more letter of interest.
    I wish Phil was here to see what I’ve done so far. I wasn’t repped by him, but he took an interest in me over 10 years ago. He said when he felt I was ready he would make the introductions. Well, here I am wishing him well as he rides into the sunset. I will forever remember this man, who once told me I could be the difference.

  2. Charles Scott

    An inspiration was Phil Gersh and his life. Because as an unknown writer even now at the age of 73 I realize there is time yet for recognition.

  3. Robert Anthony Foster

    Phil, you were a Giant Human Being.
    This world wasn’t large enough for your talent, so you have obviously decided to conduct business on a greater scale.
    I will never forget your kindness and your persona, both of which will live long after these words have turned to dust. You made a profound impact on this magnificent farce we call Life.
    I miss you already.
    Robert Anthony Foster

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