Norman Brokaw, a native of Manhattan and Larchmont and well-known longtime William Morris agent who took credit for introducing Marilyn Monroe to baseball legend Joe DiMaggio, died Saturday in California from complications of pneumonia, according to multiple sources. He was 89.
Brokaw, born on April 21, 1927, in Manhattan to Jewish immigrants from Russia, started out as a mail clerk to and rose to become one of the top agents at William Morris and later served as chairman.
He considered one of his biggest achievements ushering Bill Cosby into television entertainment in 1965, something he compared to Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in major league baseball, according to The New York Times.
His list of clients included Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Danny Thomas and Clint Eastwood, and when the agency wanted to expand its services, he started working with sports figures such as Mark Spitz, and baseball players Hank Aaron and Steve Garvey. He also entered into the realm of political talent, representing former presidents Gerald R. Ford and Jimmy Carter, among other political leaders, according to Variety.
Brokaw was destined for representing talent, according to The New York Times, since his grandparents' acrobatic dance act was brought to the United States from Russia by a recent immigrant who later changed his name to William Morris.
Brokaw's uncle Johnny Hyde, a William Morris agent who discovered Marilyn Monroe, hired the young Brokaw to work in the mailroom when he was 15, and the family moved to California. It became Hollywood legend that Brokaw introduced DiMaggio to Monroe, who was dating Brokaw's uncle, The New York Times reports.
Brokaw, who also served briefly in the U.S. Army, is survived by his wife, Marguerite Longley, six children and four grandchildren.