agents can make or break an actor's career. They're that important. I don't
know any working actor, in film or TV, or doesn't have one.
My first agent, Robert Raison, was totally responsible for starting
my career. I would have been a basketball coach all my professional life
it he hadn't given me his card that day in the fifties. I believe in "happy
accidents." That was one.
I've always envied actors who have an agent that is also their friend.
Tom Selleck is one. There are many others. They are very lucky actors.
There is an old saying in Hollywood about agents: "Changing agents is
like changing deck chairs on the Titanic." Like any old saying, many time
it's not true.
Actors get old. Happily, in my case, my gray beard and wrinkles are
working for me. Gray hair or no hair, weather-beaten faces, weight gain
or loss, beards and limps, new teeth and glasses happen. If an actor still
wants to work as this aging process happens, his agent submits him for
A thing called timing is involved. The agent who represented you in
your youth tried to cast you in totally different roles from the roles
you are right for years later. It's unfair to blame your agent for not
getting you parts at any phase of your career. You're changing, the parts
available are changing, the casting directors are being changed, and the
viewing public's tastes are changing.
Examples - Blond, blue eyed, scar-faced men were in demand as the bad
guys when we were at war with Germany, the same with Oriental actors when
Japan was our enemy. Cowboy types made good careers when there were twenty-six
Western TV shows on per week. There's not one Western TV series on now,
unless you count reruns.
Is it a mystery that very few actors have film careers that last ten
years? The most asked question in show biz: "Whatever happened to what's
So an agent who is also your friend -- is a gift. When you're turned
down for an acting job, it's a one hundred percent rejection. You weren't
turned down for a bad sales pitch for the car you're trying to sell. You
didn't get the part because they didn't like the fit of the shoes you peddle.
You didn't get the job because they didn't think YOU fit the part. If you
can't deal with that much rejection, get out of town. Actors at ALL levels
of success have to deal with pure rejection. It ain't easy, but most of
them are dreamers and it takes a lot to kill a dream.
Here's where an agent who is your friend enters the picture. Friendship
doesn't happen overnight. Good friends get through all your baggage layer
by layer and still stick around. It takes time. And when rejection strikes,
a friendly agent gives you support.
When I got sick and incapable of holding my job, David Moss was there.
HIs frequent phone calls propped me up when I needed propping.
When I had regained my health, David called one day and said, "Now that
you're feeling good, why don't I call your old boss and see if he's interested
in working with you again?
The thought hadn't entered my mind and I told him so. "You mind
if I give him a call?" David asked.
"I think that'd really be a long shot." I mumbled. Not working for so
long left me with a short supply of self-confidence.
"I'll call him," he said.
Two weeks later I was on a plane to New York. The screen test went well.
Well, I guess it did because I returned to my old job. My whole life was
turned around. Why? Because David Moss is my agent and he is also my good
I forgot to mention, David made a living in his youth as a toreador.
No bull. In Spain, when he was a young man, he fought bulls in the ring.
He faced death every Sunday. He almost bought it twice when he was gored.
He still fights bulls into his senior years three times a year in northern
Mexico. I'm pretty sure he's the only agent in the history of agents that
fights that kind of bull. So he's not only my good friend and my agent,
he's a fearless S.O.B. That fearless part comes in handy in Hollywood.