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agents / managers / publicists


Agents and Managers
c. 1945-1948

Still in high school, David is listed in the 1948 directory of the Ruth Gould Agency along with mother Berniece and 2-year old sister Jill .

The Agency was located at 1107 Western Avenue in Hollywood. Dolores De Leon headed the Talent Division of the company and handled David as early as the Fall of 1945.

1949 Signs agreement with Jack Holland for 5% for 2 years. Holland's group The Stagelighters is the theater group that Janssen appears with during high school. Holland agrees to get talent scouts to the shows.
10/5/1949 Signs with the Mitchell Gertz Agency (Jerry Briskin) for 1 year for the standard 10% commission terms.
12/18/1950 Signs with Sam Armstrong (Monter-Grey-Amstrong).
6/20/1951 Released by Sam Armstrong.  
late 1951 With Lita Gray Chaplin Agency. Jack Donaldson is his agent there as he begins his contract with Universal-International.

Agent Jack Donaldson starts his own agency (at 8537-1/2 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood) and Janssen signs a new one year contract with him.

12/14/1952 Janssen resigns with Donaldson, this time for 3 years. By early 1954 he will fold his agency and work for the Edward Sherman Agency.
1/7/1955 Re-signs a 3-year contract with Jack Donaldson, now with the Edward Sherman Agency for the standard 10% commission terms.
7/20/1955 Enters 1-year contract with Gus Dembling. Gus had died a few months earlier and his contract is signed for his company by Betty L. King. They may have been managers, not agents.
4/16/1956 His Universal contract now over, it appears Janssen breaks his contract with Jack Donaldson now operating as the Donaldson-Weil Agency) to sign a 1-year contract with the William Morris Agency for the standard 10% commission terms. Stan Kamen was agent.
4/16/1957 Renews contract with William Morris Agency for representation for 3 additional years. Signed for the agents by Ann Rosenthal.

Breaks his William Morris contract to sign with Abner Greshler of Diamond Artists . Janssen was evidently offended by the WMA's reaction to his recent marriage and their pronouncement that it was a career detriment while he was playing a suave bachelor on RICHARD DIAMOND. After the defection, Greshler negotiated a better final season DIAMOND contract for Janssen and got him hired for a play in Dayton, Ohio during the series' filming hiatus within minutes of signing him (a story he liked to relate).

Abner Judah Greshler was born in New York City on January 2, 1910 to immigrant parents from Leipzig, Germany. His father was a furrier.

As a boy, Abby sold newspapers in his multi-cultural Lower East Side neighborhood, and was once shot in the knee when caught in the crossfire of rival gangs during a shoot out.

His show business start came when he began to book Jewish comedians in small theaters around his neighborhood. This led to the hiring of acts in the comedy clubs in the Catskills. Among those he booked who eventually became famous were Milton Berle, Danny Thomas, Henny Youngman, Red Skelton and the like. He also handled specialties like bird acts and magicians - characters straight out of Woody Allen's "Broadway Danny Rose."

In 1946, Abby, who was handling Jerry Lewis, prevailed upon a club owner in Havana to include his client on a bill with the already-booked Dean Martin. Hence he was influential in the creation of their legendary comedy team.

Greshler came to Hollywood in the early 1950's to participate in the fledgling television industry and to supervise the making of the Martin and Lewis movies. With his contacts from the East Coast, he felt he could become successful in opening a Talent Agency.

That he did. Diamond Artists on Sunset Boulevard handled such clients as Tony Randall, Jack Klugman, Vince Edwards, Glenn Ford, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Xavier Cugat and Abby Lane, Cloris Leachman, Eva Marie Saint, Jane Mansfield, and The Monkeys, as well as David Janssen.

He was one of the first to champion the concept of the "Package Deal" whereby he not only represented the star of the show, he also handled the director and some of the writers.

Some of the TV shows that benefited from Abby's packaging prowess (and visa-versa) were The Odd Couple, Ben Casey, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Quincy, and of course, The Fugitive.

Known to his close friends and family as "Flying A," Abby was perpetually on fast-forward and lived on the phone.

He loved making and creating the very best deals for his clients. It was typical for Abby to reach Janssen with a deal in progress and 3 phone calls going and bark, "Hello, David? David! Don't move. I can't talk to you right now. I'll call you in ten minutes. I'm calling to tell you I can't talk. Wait right there. Wait!"

He was truly the character of characters - the showman who enjoyed every moment. David Janssen was like a son to him and Abby was certainly a father figure to the actor.

He and wife Vi regularly hosted at their Brentwood home (formerly owned by Frank Capra) a Saturday night double feature screening of the latest studio releases in their private screening room. Janssen was a regular attendee.

Their mutual friendship and loyalty lasted over 20 years until David's death in 1980. Greshler died in 1993.

NOTE: Ex-actress Sue Carol was listed as Janssen's agent circa 1950, but it is not known what Agency she was with and if it's reflected on the above list. Married to actor Alan Ladd at the time, she evidently used her real name Evelyn Lederer as a talent agent.

Business Managers
Fred Barman

Fred Barman served as Janssen's business manager and guided him through money decisions for over a decade.

Publicist Frank Liberman, another Barman client, made the introduction in the late 1950's. David's financial picture changed drastically during the association as the actor achieved moderate then phenomenal success from his 1st two television series. In 1958, before "Richard Diamond" and as a new Barman client, he made only $21,543 in income. Just ten years later he'd accumulated $1.8 million in assets.

This growth of wealth. which coincided with his marriage to first wife Ellie. was soon to unravel at the height of his career. Fortunately Barman got the halcyon years. He worked for Janssen until September of 1969 and the early stages of his well-publicized marital separation. This, combined with a spending frenzy on then-girlfriend Rosemary Forsyth, played havoc on his financial picture. Barman's pre-divorce trial deposition in October of that year was the last official matter he performed on behalf of his client.

A Los Angeles native, Barman started in the mailroom of 20th Century-Fox and segued to the payroll department of that studio gaining the necessary experience to start an independent career handling financial matters for outside clients. Peter Graves, John Saxon, Ray Walston, and Troy Donahue were amongst the others who signed up.

One of his most successful of advices was to get his clients involved in early Coachella Valley real estate investments, this being the desert area in California including the communities of Palm Springs, Palm Desert and La Quinta. In consultation with local real estate man Richard Kite, Barman formed partnerships and acquired property outright for clients. This was done in the late 50's and early 60's ahead of the desert real estate boom. Clients realized some great equity in short periods of time. In addition, using the pre-paid interest laws in place at the time, Barman was able to reduce taxable income for clients who were being especially hard hit. Janssen particularly benefited from Fred's foresight in this matter.

Barman has in recent years been ahead of the curve in a couple of other businesses: his Sportsway Management Company extended his celebrity management skills into the athletic arena. 17-year old Martina Navratilova found in Fred a first manager as she was transitioning from Communist Czechoslovakia.

Barman International Enterprises (BIE) is an active company which places US actors in Japanese advertising campaigns.

But Fred has a soft spot for his years actively managing the day-to-day business affairs of his actor stable. Like all of Janssen's inner circle, he has particularly fond memories of his client, recalling the actor's style and his ability to make one feel important and valued. Barman recalled recently, "I wish he were alive today. We'd have some fun."                

David R. Capell
of Eli Parker & Company
Became new Business Manager in the midst of his divorce proceedings

Frank Liberman

Liberman 1

May 29, 1917 - Sep 21, 2009

Mr. Liberman was Janssen's long-time publicist, from the late 50's to nearly the end of David's career.

Liberman’s job was to shape and protect the image of his clients. Using the relationships he’d forged with show business columnists and writers, he’d exploit the good news and personal triumphs of those he worked for. Sometimes he knew things about a client that might show him or her in a less than favorable light. In this case, Frank’s skill was put to work to help downplay that which could hurt the public persona.  Liberman handled the challenges of both scenarios during his 16 years of work with David Janssen.

Born in New York City and raised in White Plains, Frank started as a “NY Daily News” copy boy after graduating from Lafayette College. He landed a public relations apprenticeship with Warner Brothers in New York. This was followed by work as a full-fledged press agent in the company’s Chicago office. After a wartime military stint in which his newly acquired PR experiences were utilized, he returned to WB and received a transfer to Hollywood. In 1947, less than 2 years after relocating to the West Coast, he started his own agency. Beginning with clients like Ruth Hussey, Frank continued to build a stronger roster of celebrities in the 50’s, including Bob Hope and Phyllis Diller.

Frank Liberman and Associates was in business almost a decade when he met a young David Janssen. At Universal, where Janssen was under contract doing the smallest of parts, Frank was seated at the commissary in a large group, including producer Ross Hunter, actors Tony Curtis, Piper Laurie, Shelley Winters and writer Martin Ragaway. It was here that Liberman had his first social introduction to the young actor. By 1959, Janssen had made significant strides towards success and was in his first TV series RICHARD DIAMOND, PRIVATE DETECTIVE. Wrapped in towels in the Beverly Hill Heath Club sauna, Frank and David met again. This time it was a business meeting brokered and attended by Janssen’s agent Abner Greshler. Janssen was now in need of the kind of services Frank was providing for many others in town. A deal was struck. One of the ways to get a client’s name in the public eye in those years was through placement of articles in fan magazines. “I Was Too Poor to Have Dreams” was the title of one such article—the first that Frank would get published for his new client. Later would come the prestigious "TV Guide" covers.

Liberman 2It was to be a 16-year bond. Frank was with him through the success of THE FUGITIVE and the high-profile divorce that followed. They had offices in the same Sunset Strip office building for 7 years. They conferred regularly but Janssen gave Frank the dignity of being entrusted to do his job without a lot of supervision or interference. It was a respectful association. Janssen was one of the few clients Liberman would socialize with. It might be a Saturday night film screening at Abby Greshler’s 11-acre estate. There, Janssen would typically charm everyone with his quick wit.  Often it was dinner at his preferred Beverly Hills eatery, La Scala, where a night of laughter would always be followed by David grabbing the check. Wherever, it was great fun to be around David Janssen. He was nice to everyone. Not hard to understand why Frank recalls him today as the favorite of his scores of clients.

Liberman’s long professional tie with Janssen ended after David married for a second time in 1975. A housecleaning of several of David’s established relationships and allegiances occurred suddenly. Liberman was a reluctant casualty. He continued to run his Agency until his retirement in 2001.

Frank lost his beloved wife Pat Harris in 1984. He lived out his final years at the Motion Picture Country Hospital in Woodland Hills, CA and upon the controversial closure of that facility, at the Los Angeles Jewish Home for the Aged in Reseda.

THE GREATS AND THE INGRATES, Frank Liberman’s unpublished book of remembrances, chronicled his formidable career and is sprinkled with the type of anecdotal information only someone in the entertainment inner circle would know. Hopefully it will be published posthumously.

Frank mentions client Janssen 27 minutes into this interview conducted in 2001.

Jerry Pam

May have been his publicist at the end of his career.



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