Bill Robinson, a talent agent and manager who represented stars like Carol Burnett, Robert Duvall, Maggie Smith, and Audrey Hepburn, has died. He was 92.
His family shared he died on August 6 in his Malibu home after a long illness.
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“I knew Bill for many, many years…since 1959. We met while I was doing the Gary Moore Show. Later on, he became my manager when I was doing my show. But not just my manager. He was one of my closest friends in the world. I loved him very much… and I will miss him,” Burnett said in a statement.
Throughout his career, Robinson also represented the likes of Judith Anderson, Alan Arkin, Tony Bill, Peter Falk, James Garner, Glenda Jackson, Waylon Jennings, and Jayne Mansfield, among many more.
It was Robinson that gave Mike Medavoy his first job as an agent and the current Chairman and CEO of Phoenix Pictures and former Chairman of Tri-Star Pictures remembered what their initial meeting was like.
“‘You’re gonna have a hard time in this business as a Morris,’ Bill Robinson told me when he hired me to be an agent at his agency,” Medavoy wrote in his book You’re Only as Good as Your Next One: 100 Great Films, 100 Good Films, and 100 for
Which I Should Be Shot. “‘You got a middle name?’ ‘Mike,’ I told him. I was never crazy about my first name anyway. Besides, I had nothing to do with my naming. ‘Mike…Medavoy,’ he repeated. ‘That works.'”
Robinson was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1929. His family moved to Los Angeles when he was 16. After graduating from high school, he worked as a dress salesman. After a stint in the US Army during the Korean war, he returned home, answered a want-ad for an NBC page, and got the job. In the course of his duties at NBC, he met Ida Lupino, who urged him to become an agent. He took her advice and landed a position in the MCA mail room, where he apprenticed under the legendary Lew Wasserman. He was quickly promoted to a talent agent, representing small-time musical acts throughout the Southwest.
He would eventually land at Kurt Frings Agency where he represented Hepburn. Later on, he moved to Ashley-Famous Agency where he built his reputation before becoming independent with the blessing of Ted Ashley and a $50,000 check to help him get started.
Robinson is survived by Mandy Robinson, his wife of 38 years, and their daughter, Hannah Robinson.