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March 28

Swifty Lazar

At the time, there wasn’t an artist in this country who didn’t want Swifty Lazar as their agent.

Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage/Getty Images

1907: Nothing Slow About Swifty
Irving Paul “Swifty” Lazar is born in Brooklyn, New York
When Hollywood legend Irving Lazar managed to sign three mega-deals in a single day, actor Humphrey Bogart jokingly gave him the nickname “Swifty.” It stuck, creating the role of a super talent agent, with such clients ranging from writers Ernest Hemingway, Vladimir Nabokov, and Tennessee Williams, composers Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, and George Gershwin, and actors/singers Cary Grant, Gregory Peck, Cher, and Madonna.

Lazar was notorious for his legendarily high phone bills (he worked those phones!) and even more famous for the party he threw every year after the Academy Awards®; an invite to Swifty’s party meant that you had arrived.  Standing only 5’3”, Lazar was a giant when it came to protecting the creative and financial interests of his famous clients. Lazar also produced movies and plays, and even represented politicians like Richard Nixon, but his work as a performer’s advocate is still what he’s best known for.
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