Passings: Michael Hamilburg, Nicholas Caldwell, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed

The Whispers Portrait
Marcus Hutson, left, Nicholas Caldwell, Wallace “Scotty” Scott, Leaveil Degree and Walter Scott of the R&B band The Whispers.
(Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images)

Michael Hamilburg

Literary agent ran father’s agency

Michael Hamilburg, a Beverly Hills agent who helped shepherd writing by Vincent Bugliosi, Jim Morrison, Paul Schrader, Jackie Robinson and others into film and print, died Jan. 1 of complications from Parkinson’s disease, said Gregory Jackson, family spokesman and longtime friend. He was 82.

Hamilburg, of Brentwood, ran the Mitchell J. Hamilburg Agency, a company his father started in the 1930s with a diverse client list that included Gene Autry, Deanna Durbin and Captain Kangaroo — though the elder Hamilburg once told the Times that he refused to represent Bugliosi’s subject, Charles Manson, who was trying to peddle a book with a co-writer.


Like his father, the younger Hamilburg worked on film projects. They included “Billionaire Boys Club,” “Taxi Driver” and “Shaft,” and he co-produced Sydney Pollack’s “The Yakuza.” But his specialty was books. “He just had manuscripts spilling out of everywhere,” said Jackson, who called Hamilburg “an un-agent agent.”

Michael J. Hamilburg was born June 15, 1933, in Los Angeles. He attended University High and Menlo College and served in the Navy. He worked mostly alone and stood out for his open-door policy to unknown writers, The Times wrote in 1999. “I love the business, that’s the whole thing,” he told The Times.

He survived by wife Susan Hamilburg, and daughters Georgia Hamilburg of Brentwood and Lucy Hamilburg of San Francisco.

— Jill Leovy, Times staff writer


Nicholas Caldwell

Singer with The Whispers

Nicholas Caldwell, singer and co-founder of the California R&B group the Whispers, has died. He was 71.

Willette Ballard, a representative for the group, said Caldwell died Tuesday of congestive heart failure at his San Francisco home.


FOR THE RECORD: A previous version of this article said that the Whispers formed in the San Francisco Bay Area. The group formed in Los Angeles.


Caldwell was an original member of the Whispers, a group formed in Los Angeles in 1963 that included brothers Walter and Wallace Scott, Marcus Hutson and Gordy Harmon. Their first top-10 R&B hit was in 1970 with “Seems Like I Gotta Do Wrong.” Their first album to go platinum was “The Whispers” in 1980. It included the disco hit “And The Beat Goes On.”


Caldwell also penned some of their songs, including the fan favorite “Lady.” The group also had an R&B and pop hit, “Rock Steady,” with Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds.

Caldwell and fellow singer Leaveil Degree provided “some suave dance steps” during the band’s performance at Anaheim’s Celbrity Theater, a Times critic wrote in 1990. The critic called the band “B-students of soul who may not create soaring moments but who get the job of entertaining done in classy, confident fashion.”

— Times staff and wire reports

Mufti Mohammed Sayeed

Top elected pro-India Kashmiri leader

Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, a pro-India leader of Kashmir who tried to win over insurgent groups in the troubled region, died of pneumonia Thursday in a New Delhi hospital, his party leader said. He was 79.

Sayeed, who took over as the top elected official of the region in March last year, was hospitalized two weeks ago in the Indian capital. His death was announced by party leader and Kashmir state Education Minister Nayeem Akhter.

Sayeed is survived by his wife, three daughters and a son. Mehbooba Mufti, one of his daughters, is expected to succeed him as the chief minister of the Indian portion of Kashmir.


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that Sayeed “provided a healing touch to Kashmir through his leadership.”

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over control of Kashmir, the Himalayan region that has been divided between them since 1947. Mufti advocated a dialogue with Pakistan to settle the dispute, and sought to promote trade and travel between Kashmiris on both sides.

At the start of insurgency in the Indian portion of Kashmir in 1989, rebels abducted one of Sayeed’s daughters. He was India’s home minister then. His daughter was later freed in exchange for the release of five militants from prison by the Indian government.

Associated Press

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