A legendary Hollywood producer and talent manager, George Shapiro, has died at the age of 91, Fox News reported.
Arguably best known as the producer of the hit NBC sitcom Seinfeld, Shapiro was also the personal manager of star comedian Jerry Seinfeld and helped produce other shows and specials starring the popular comic.
Comedic producer and talent manager
Variety reported that, according to his family, Shapiro died at his home in Beverly Hills, California, on May 26.
The family said in a statement, “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.”
He was a driving force in the comedy industry and served as a founding member of the advisory board of the National Comedy Center in New York. The executive director of the center, Journey Gunderson, said of Shapiro, “He believed deeply in our mission to celebrate and preserve comedy’s heritage.”
From NY to LA
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Shapiro was born in 1931 in the Bronx, New York City, and attended P.S. 80 as a child, where he became lifelong friends with his future partner Howard West.
Shapiro became interested in comedy and, more specifically, the producers and talent managers behind the scenes, as a teenager while serving as a lifeguard at a popular Poconos resort, where he met some of the big stars of the day.
His career began after he graduated from NYU and served briefly in the U.S. Army when, through a connection with his uncle, comedian Carl Reiner, Shapiro got a job in the mailroom of the prestigious New York-based talent agency William Morris, though he was shortly thereafter promoted and transferred to the agency’s Los Angeles office in California.
Shapiro had recruited West to join the agency as well, and West joined his friend for the move to Hollywood where, in 1973, the pair left the agency and formed their own company, Shapiro/West & Associates.
Deadline reported that Shapiro, both while with William Morris as well as his own agency, was responsible for helping package and produce a number of popular sitcoms and comedy specials and helped a number of comedians gain fame, particularly Andy Kaufman.
He is survived by his lifelong partner Melody Shapiro, as well as their three children and five grandchildren, as well as his brother.
George Shapiro will be sorely missed but his impact on the comedy industry will remain a lasting legacy for quite some time.