Producer George Shapiro, who managed stars like Jerry Seinfeld, Andy Kaufman and Carl Reiner, died Thursday. He was 91.
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Shapiro died at his home in Beverly Hills, California, Variety reported.
Bronx-born Shapiro has teamed up with his late business partner Howard West to bring the sitcom Seinfeld to television, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The couple founded Shapiro/West Associates and have done numerous projects for Kaufman in addition to their work on the sitcom Seinfeld, Variety reported.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the duo also helped steer the careers of Reiner, Robert Wuhl, Marty Feldman, Gabe Kaplan and Peter Bonerz.
“Shapiro’s love of laughter and his reverence for those who inspire it helped him build a career in comedy as an unabashed supporter of comic actors and comedy writers,” Shapiro’s family said in a statement.
More recently, Shapiro executive produced the Crackle/Netflix series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, which Variety reported was hosted by Seinfeld.
Danny DeVito, who co-starred with Kaufman in Taxi from 1978 to 1983, later played Shapiro in the 1999 Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon, starring Jim Carrey, according to Variety.
“George was one of the cutest guys on the planet,” DeVito said in a statement. “We saw that smiling face every Friday night during the ‘Taxi’ days. He never missed a show.
Shapiro was born on May 18, 1931 and grew up in the Bronx, New York. Shapiro had a decades-long partnership with West, a childhood friend who died in December 2015.
Shapiro spent summers during his teenage years as a lifeguard at Tamiment Resort in the Pocono Mountains, where he met artists like Dick Shawn, Pat Carroll, Carol Burnett, Barbara Cook, and future director Herbert Ross, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Equally important to his career, Shapiro met talent agents.
“I didn’t even know what an agent was, but they came to see the show, to talk to the girls, to the comedians,” Shapiro said during an interview with the Television Academy Foundation, according to Deadline. “I said, ‘This is your job? To see the show, have a nice dinner, come to a resort with a lake? I have to check that.’”
Shapiro served as executive producer on the Showtime special “Andy Kaufman at Carnegie Hall” and “The Andy Kaufman Special,” Variety reported. Other specials he put together included Elayne Boosler’s Broadway Baby for Showtime, Seinfeld’s Stand-Up Confidential for HBO, and the animated The 2000 Year Old Man, which features Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner as their buddy act for HBO to repeat.
Shapiro also served as executive producer on the 2001 documentary Comedian, which chronicled Jerry Seinfeld’s return to stand-up comedy after Seinfeld ended its successful run on television.
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