A sad press release about one of the best Press Agents.

Shirley Herz, one of the “founders” of theatrical press, passed away on Sunday.

What do I mean by “founders?”  Well, although the theater is thousands of years old, we often forget that our industry . . . the Broadway machine that makes musicals and plays for tourists to see, ain’t all that old.  Show Boat, one of the markers of the modern musical, was produced less than a hundred years ago.  Oklahoma is only 70 years old.

And that means people like Shirley Herz, who was 87, were around to see our pubescent years . . . and helped shape us into the adults we are now.  Yep, she helped define not only a generation . . . but she defined the first generation.  And for that, we owe her an incredible debt of gratitude.

She worked on over 100 shows throughout her decades in the biz, and was awarded a special Tony Award in 2009.

I didn’t know Shirley all that well, but what I knew, I just loved.  She was seriously old school.  In fact, if you looked up Press Agent in the dictionary?  Shirley would figure out a way to get the New York Times to cover the fact that you looked up Press Agent in the dictionary.

She also knew that in order to be a Press Agent, you had to be a person.  You couldn’t be a company.  You had to have relationships, and knock on doors, and get kicked out of doors, and establish relationships in order to get your clients some attention.  And you have to work your butt off in order to do it.

You were a great representative for your shows, Shirley.   But you were an even better one for our entire industry.   You’ll be missed.


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  • Kevin McAnarney says:

    A Great Lady! Thanks Ken for your loving tribute!

  • janis says:

    What a nice tribute.

  • Robert Nolan says:

    Thank you, Ken, for your tribute to Shirley. She was a great lady and taught me a lot–and we happily were both Phillie and Eagle fans.

    She was also a great member of many organizations, but importantly a driving force in ATPAM. The Board and Officers and Membership will miss her.

  • eva says:

    Thank you for acknowledging one of the most honorable people I’ve ever met and was privileged to know. She actually liked and respected critics. I’m very upset not to have her around anymore. She was a classy mensch!

  • Hearing that Shirley was now 87 took my breath away. She always seemed youthful in my mind. She was always THE person we thought of first when we thought of theater press. If someone had ever worked for her they gained status in that field. She certainly contributed to the world and can know she did what she came here to do.

  • Linus Hoyt says:

    Like any other press agent,(to a media member), Shirley Herz one of the best and most entertaining. Will never forget planning another week-long trip to see some shows from L.A., our base. It was the 83-84 Season, and managed to book our shows in the preferred order–thanks to Shirley. At the last moment, due to a fluke, we had to add my own Mother to the two of us going. Really? Calling all these press agents to ask if I could bring my Mother? No problem for Shirley. Through “My One And Only” (Thank you Judy Jacksina)”The Rink”–I can’t remember them all–it ended with the original “La Cage Aux Folles” on the last night of the trip. Shirley couldn’t place us together, but threw us a pair in the dress circle at the Palace, center of course and one in Row E of the orchestra–center of course. My then wife suggested I sit with my Mom in the dress circle. Out of all the shows she’d seen and brought me to for decades, my Mother confessed that “La Cage” was her all time favorite. If it weren’t for Shirley Herz, my Mom would have never seen it. And it was the last show she ever got to see for she died two years later. Will always be eternally grateful for the way Shirley Herz treated us.

    –Linus Hoyt, LinusINTL

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