Michael S. Rosenfeld, a talent agent and producer who was one of the founding partners of Creative Artists Agency, has died. He was 75.
Rosenfeld died Thursday of respiratory failure at Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center after a long illness, the agency announced.
"He enjoyed an exemplary career as a talent agent," the agency said in a statement. "He played an important role in the growth and success of CAA, and prided himself on starting the agency's literary department."
In 1975, Rosenfeld and four other successful middle-management executives with the William Morris Agency left to form Creative Artists Agency, which would become a talent agency powerhouse.
Rosenfeld and his partners -- Michael Ovitz, Bill Haber, Ron Meyer and Rowland Perkins -- pooled their resources and set up shop on Wilshire Boulevard.
They couldn't afford a receptionist, so each of their wives filled in one day a week. At first, they conducted business on card tables and sat in folding chairs.
"It looked like we were booking, all right, but not actors," Rosenfeld told The Times in 1979. "It looked like we were making book."
As a vice president at ABC, Michael Eisner had worked closely with Rosenfeld at William Morris. After CAA was formed, Eisner "put his programming execs in a room with Rosenfeld and his partners and refused to let them leave until each one had come up with a project the new agency could handle," according to the 1995 book "The Agency."
Rosenfeld brought together the creative elements for the 1980 movie "Fame" and sold the landmark 1976 miniseries "Rich Man, Poor Man" to ABC.
Among his clients were William Link and Richard Levinson, creators of TV's "Murder, She Wrote," and actresses Marlo Thomas, Joanne Woodward, Ann-Margret, Eva Marie Saint and Dyan Cannon.
By the early 1980s, Rosenfeld had left CAA to produce such projects as the 1984 TV miniseries "Fatal Vision" and the 1986 skateboard film "Thrashin'."
Soon after completing the 1989 TV movie "The Hillside Stranglers," he moved to Kenwood, Calif., and co-owned Dragonfly Aviation, a flying school at the Santa Rosa Airport.
Michael Stuart Rosenfeld was born June 28, 1934, to Maxwell S. Rosenfeld, who became a Pennsylvania state senator, and Edith Rosenfeld.
After earning his bachelor's degree from Penn State University, Rosenfeld started in the mailroom at William Morris in 1957 in New York City. Two years later, he moved to Los Angeles.
He represented Rita Moreno and George Chakiris, securing their roles in the 1961 film "West Side Story," for which they both won Academy Awards. According to CAA, he also persuaded Disney to cast Dick Van Dyke in the 1964 film "Mary Poppins."
Rosenfeld was divorced.
His son, Michael Rosenfeld, and his son's wife, Sonya, are television agents at CAA.
Rosenfeld is also survived by three other children, Maxwell, Jackson and Molly; and three grandchildren.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. April 8 at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park, 1218 Glendon Ave.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times