Harold Berkowitz, pioneering showbiz dealmaker

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Harold Berkowitz, pioneering showbiz dealmaker

Thu Apr 15, 2010 @ 10:24AM PST

Berkowitz_Harold(lawyer) There's a memorial service at noon today at Hillside Memorial for Harold Berkowitz, about as tough a negotiator as any in Hollywood history and a name partner at the old Kaplan Livingston firm, which once ruled the showbiz legal landscape. Here's THR's obituary...

By Patrick Hipes

Harold D. Berkowitz, a prominent entertainment lawyer who put together deals for such movies and TV shows as "Jaws" and "Lassie" and represented a slew of stars including Robert Mitchum and Jack Lemmon, died April 10 of a stroke in Los Angeles. He was 92.

Berkowitz was a pioneer in Hollywood legal circles. At times attorney, agent, producer and negotiator, he had a hand in such early TV shows as "Lassie," "Flipper," "Father Knows Best," "The Donna Reed Show," "All in the Family" and "Laugh-In" and films including the "Pink Panther" series representing Blake Edwards.

His list of clients ran from studios and producers to the top actors of the 1940s, '50s and '60s, including Mitchum, Lemmon, Donna Reed, Robert Young, Shelley Winters and Rin Tin Tin as well as writer Sidney Sheldon and Walter Shenson, who produced the Beatles movie "A Hard Day's Night."

"He was a tough, tough negotiator, but in private he was very reserved, daughter Kathy Monkarsh said.

Born on Feb. 9, 1918, in the Bronx, Berkowitz entered City College of New York at 16 and earned his NYU law degree taking night classes. After moving to Los Angeles during the early 1940s, he took a job in the accounting department at Paramount before hooking up with Leon Kaplan and eventually opening what would become one of Hollywood¹s first high-profile entertainment firms, Kaplan, Livingston, Goodwin, Berkowitz & Selvin. It became the springboard for many of the town's top lawyers, including talent dealmaker Skip Brittenham and longtime Warner Bros. general counsel John Schulman.He later worked at Loeb Loeb.

Berkowitz had offices in Beverly Hills and Paris -- he also made deals in England and worked with James Bond producer Cubby Broccoli. Berkowitz, also a painter and poet, continued working into his 90s.
He is survived by son Barry Berkowitz and daughters Michele Shapiro, Julie Berkowitz and Monkarsh; longtime companion Constance Austin; and five grandchildren.

A memorial service is set for noon April 15 at Hillside Memorial. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Vista Del Mar, 3200 Motor Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90034.

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