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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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