Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
William Morris Agency
The Agency represents clients in all segments of the entertainment industry, including film, television, music and personal appearances, broadway theatre and theatrical touring, publishing, commercial endorsements, sports marketing and corporate consulting.
WMA has more than 600 employees.
In 1898, in New York City, a young German Jewish immigrant went into business as "William Morris, Vaudeville Agent." (The cross-hatch trademark - four X's, representing a W superimposed on an M - dates back to that time.) Incorporated in New York State on January 31, 1918, Morris was joined by son William, Jr., and former office boy Abe Lastfogel as directors of the company.
As silent film grew in popularity, Morris encouraged his performing clients to experiment in the new medium. Stars such as Al Jolson, the Marx Brothers, Mae West and Charlie Chaplin helped build the Agency's position in these new media. During the 1920s, clients included such luminaries as George Jessel.
By 1930, Morris passed leadership of the agency to his son and Lastfogel. With Morris, Jr. heading a new office in Los Angeles and Lastfogel managing the operation in New York City, the Agency featured clients, such as Jimmy Cagney, Louis Armstrong and Will Rogers. During this time, the Los Angeles office moved from Hollywood and Vine to Canon Drive in Beverly Hills.
In 1949, WMA acquired the Berg-Allenberg Agency , combining clients such as Frank Capra, Clark Gable and Judy Garland, with a roster that already included Sammy Davis, Jr., Milton Berle and Rita Hayworth.
With the arrival of television, WMA recognized opportunities to package stars, producers, writers and show concepts to the corporate sponsors who controlled television's early development. During the 1950s and 1960s, WMA represented Steve McQueen, Frank Sinatra, Andy Griffith, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Katharine Hepburn, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Kim Novak, Dick Van Dyke and Bill Cosby.
By 1965, WMA had also emerged as a music industry player, representing the Rolling Stones, the Byrds, the Beach Boys and Sonny & Cher. In 1973, WMA established a Nashville office, extending the agency's reach into country music and beyond.
The 1960s also saw many future media industry leaders emerge from the famed William Morris mailroom, including Barry Diller, founder of the Fox Broadcasting Company and current Chairman and CEO of IAC, and David Geffen, founder of Geffen Records and Dreamworks Studio. These ambitious talents often clashed, sometimes in public, as when, in 1975, Michael Ovitz and four other agents left WMA to form Creative Artists Agency.
In the 1980s, the William Morris Plaza was constructed, located at 150 El Camino Drive, directly across the street from its main building at 151 El Camino.
In 1992, the Agency acquired Triad Artists , and fifty Triad agents joined WMA, the largest talent agency acquisition in history.
In 1993, WMA created the Corporate Advisory/New Media Department, which evolved into William Morris Consulting (WMC). WMC now operates in a several industry segments, including telecommunications, technology, lodging, gaming, publishing, retail, consumer products, apparel and cosmetics.
- William Morris Corporate Site - http://www.wma.com/
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