George Shapiro, talent manager who repped stars from Jerry Seinfeld to Andy Kaufman, has died

Renowned Hollywood talent manager George Shapiro, who represented stars ranging from Jerry Seinfeld and Andy Kaufman has died aged 91.

Deadline first reported about Shapiro’s death on Thursday at his home in Beverly Hills of natural causes, but no specifics about his cause of death were revealed.

Shapiro is arguably best known for serving as the executive producer for Seinfeld. He remained close with comedian Jerry Seinfeld even after the show ended, TMZ reports, and he wound up producing a number of standup specials for Seinfeld – even appearing in the 2002 Comedian documentary in which Seinfeld tries to return to comedy.

He is also remembered for his close, personal relationship with actor Andy Kaufman – their relationship was even dramatized in 1999’s Man on the Moon, in which Jim Carrey played the renowned actor and Danny DeVito played George.

Additionally, he produced a number of classic television hits like The Steve Allen Show and That Girl, also packaging a number of specials for variety shows like Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore and Carol Channing.

‘Shapiro’s love of laughter and reverence for those who inspire it helped him build a career in comedy as an unabashed supporter of comic performers and comedy writers,’ his family said in a statement to Variety.

Journey Gunderson, executive director of the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, New York – for which Shapiro served as a founding advisory board member also said in a statement that Shapiro ‘believed deeply in our mission to celebrate and preserve comedy’s heritage.’

Shapiro is survived by his wife, Melody, his children and his many grandchildren.

George Shapiro, a Hollywood talent manager who represented Jerry Seinfeld and Andy Kaufman, has died at his home in Beverly Hills at the age of 91

He is perhaps best known for executive producing Seinfeld, and remained close with Jerry Seinfeld in the wake of the show.  The two are pictured here in 2019

He is perhaps best known for executive producing Seinfeld, and remained close with Jerry Seinfeld in the wake of the show. The two are pictured here in 2019

Shapiro was born in New York, and spent his summers as a teenager as a lifeguard at the Tamiment Resort in the Poconos, where he met performers like Dick Shawn, Pat Caroll and Carol Burnett, as well as singer Barbara Cook and choreographer Herb Ross.

That is also how he got to know about talent agents, Deadline reports.

‘These guys came up… I didn’t even know what an agent was, but they came to see the show, to talk to the girls, to talk to the comedians,’ he said in a past Television Academy Foundation interview.

‘I said “This is your job? To watch the show, to have a nice dinner, to come to a resort with a lake? I have to look into that.”‘

After he graduated from New York University, and served for a while in the United States Army, Shapiro got an interview for a job in the mailroom at talent film William Morris in New York City – thanks to his uncle, Carl Reiner.

He eventually became a junior agent, earning just $38 each week in the packaging department at the agency, but decided to stay close to his one true passion – comedy, watching performances by Lenny Bruce, Mike Nichols and Elaine May and Phyllis Diller.

Shapiro served for a stint in the United States Army and went on to work in the mailroom at talent film William Morris in New York City

Shapiro served for a stint in the United States Army and went on to work in the mailroom at talent film William Morris in New York City

He was married for many years to his wife, Melody, with whom he had three children

He was married for many years to his wife, Melody, with whom he had three children

Shapiro also recruited his childhood friend Howard West to join the agency – but soon realized that the big comedy shows and productions were moving to Hollywood.

So, Deadline reports, Shapiro started a rumor that the firm was transferring him to Los Angeles – and eventually the firm agreed, letting him bring West along for the ride.

There, he became a packager of TV shows like The Steve Allen Show, That Girl and Gomer Pyle USMC.

He also put together a number of specials for Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore and Carol Channing – which helped launch their respective careers.

But by 1973, Shapiro decided he wanted to become a personal manager in order to develop deeper relationships and producing partnerships with his clients, and started his own firm with West – Shapiro/West and Associates.

One of his biggest clients at the firm soon became Andy Kaufman, for whom Shapiro executive produced several specials like Andy Kaufman at Carnegie Hall for Showtime and The Andy Kaufman Special for ABC.

He also executive produced the 1999 film Man on the Moon, about his relationship with Kaufman, in which Jim Carrey played the actor and Danny DeVito played him.

Shapiro is arguably best known for producing the 1990s comedy Seinfeld

Shapiro is arguably best known for producing the 1990s comedy Seinfeld

Shapiro also managed Andy Kaufman for several years.  The actor is seen on the left in Taxi with actor Danny DeVito

Shapiro also managed Andy Kaufman for several years. The actor is seen on the left in Taxi with actor Danny DeVito

Shapiro also went on to co-produce Seinfeld – developing a close relationship with actor Jerry Seinfeld.

He went on to produce the 2002 film Comedian for Seinfeld, as well as Summer Rental and Summer School, as he also decided to dabble at producing documentaries – like The Bronx Boys, and If You’re Not in the Obit, at Breakfast, all of which chronicled his life.

Additionally, he was the executive producer of the HBO documentary The Bronx, USA about his hometown.

In more recent years, Shapiro executive produced Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and his standup specials Jerry Before Seinfeld and 23 Hours to Kill.

His most recent producing credit was in 2021, The Super Bob Einstein Movie for HBO abut the life of the late actor and comedian Bob Einstein.

The memorial service will be held at a later date. In the meantime, his family dele requests donations be made to the Festivus Fund through the California Community Foundation.

Following the news of his death, several comedians and producers who knew him took to Twitter to express their grief

Following the news of his death, several comedians and producers who knew him took to Twitter to express their grief

Following the news of his death, several comedians and producers who knew him took to Twitter to express their grief.

Famed television writer Norman Lear shared a photo of him with Shapiro and Mel Brooks, writing: ‘I bless our friendship, and at 99, I’m sure I’ll see him relatively soon.’

Jim Carrey also said Shapiro was ‘truly one of the loveliest of humans,’ describing him as ‘a champion to so many of the brightest lights – a genuine classic.

‘I loved him. Andy Kaufman loved him,’ he wrote.

Sarah Silverman also wrote: ‘George Shapiro was pure joy, embodied a childhood curiosity and loved his friends with everything he had.

‘He connected people he felt should know each other and all those people had at least one thing in common – loving George.

‘He loved life like no one else,’ she added.

Kelly Carlin, meanwhile, tweeted that she ‘never met a kinder and sweeter man,’ saying he always [had] a smile and glint in his eye.’

And Phil Rosenthal, the creator of Seinfeld, tweeted that his friend was ‘the sweetest, most supportive, positive, loving soul in this world.’

‘Will miss you dear George,’ he wrote.

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