IN HONOR OF
1914 - 2001
Born in 1914 and raised in Cleveland, Seymour Heller began recognizing talent while booking bands as the chairman of the entertainment committee for school dances at his high school. “I didn’t have any experience, but (Hal Ziegler) said all I had to do was read the society section of the newspaper every Sunday and call everyone who was having a party and ask if they needed music. I was to ask them how many musicians they wanted, line them up on a union scale, and add ten percent for myself.” That advice, and a set of business cards, was enough to give the budding manager his start.
While studying law at Western Reserve University, he began a job at MCA where he made the suggestion to create separate division dedicated to booking entertainment at colleges and schools. For his idea, he was rewarded a salary of $40 per week plus commission, and school quickly took a back seat to the entertainment world; after finding his footing, Seymour became instrumental in the launch of the careers of Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie, Sammy Kaye and Frank Sinatra for MCA.
During World War II, he offered his entertainment experience to promote Max Liebman’s “Tars and Spars” shows for Sid Caesar and Victor Mature (which included chorus dancers such as Gower Champion and Bob Fosse), and in 1945 joined General Artists while booking Las Vegas lounge acts like The Treniers.
He then joined forces with Dick Gabbe and Sam Lutz in 1947 to form the first coast-to-coast personal management firm that boasted a roster of clients that included Frankie Laine, Al Martino and Lawrence Welk before signing Wladziu Valentino Liberace in 1950 - a handshake deal that lasted 38 years..
In 1954, Seymour Heller co-founded the Conference of Personal Managers and would help to establish the Talent Managers Association in 1956. In the 1970’s he worked alongside Ray Harris and Ed Cobb to purchase the Producer’s Workshop in Hollywood (now Boulevard Recording), where Liberace, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd and Ringo Starr were all frequent recorders. From 1974-1984, the partners also formed the recording label AVI.
Seymour would remain an active manager for nearly two more decades, and continued his membership and support of the Talent Managers Association until his passing in 2001. His legacy lives on not only through the work of his clients, but through his long-lasting contributions to the entertainment industry.
The Heller Awards are a tribute to the enduring philosophies that he believed and practiced until the end of his 60-year career: Always be above reproach; treat each other with respect; always strive to represent yourself and your clients with dignity; and always remember that while you represent them, they also represent you.