Shirley Herz was one of the great theatrical press agents and one of the first, if not THEE first PR people to let me in to see shows back in the day, when I was just starting out to review theater and interview people on “The Coca Crystal Show” back in the ’80s.
She was also one of the first guests, along with Diane Judge, on “The Stephen Holt Show” in, I think 1989. It was at the Italian restaurant Delsomma. Long gone now. In the theater district. I remember her saying to Diane. “I love it. We can just sit here and name all our clients!” And they did! It was very entertaining.
That show exists on out-of-date tape formats now. 3/4″ and also VHS. I’ll have to get it transferred to DVD and put on You Tube. And of course, on my show.
Shirley, we’ll miss you.
And below is a press release sent out about her Memorial.
SHIRLEY HERZ CELEBRATION
Tony-Award Winning Theatrical Publicist
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 4 at 1:30 pm at the Samuel J Friedman Theatre
There will be a Celebration of legendary theatrical press agent Shirley Herz, on Monday, November 4th at 1:30 pm at the Samuel J Friedman Theatre, 261 West 47th Street, NYC. Some of the participants are Jeffrey Alper, Sam Altman, Barry Brown, Jan Buttram, Robert Callely, Tyne Daly, Jane Friedman, Diane Judge, Angela Lansbury, “Charlotte Moore, Tom Rhoads, Liz Smith, Iris Williams and La Cage aux Folles” Original cast members: Betsy Craig, Dan Grady, Cady Huffman, David Jackson, Eric Lamp, Tom Sesma & Jennifer Smith. Musical accompaniment by Mark Hummel and Don Pippin.
Ms. Herz died on Sunday, August 11, 2013 at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. The cause was complications from a stroke that she suffered on July 18, stated Sam Altman, a longtime friend.
During her nearly 65 years of working in the world of theater, Shirley Herz received numerous honors: In 2009, the American Theatre Wing and the Broadway League awarded a special Tony Award for “Excellence in Theatre,” given to “individuals that have demonstrated extraordinary achievement in theater but are not eligible in any of the established Tony categories.” A year later, she received the Theatre Hall of Fame Founders Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Theatre. In 2008, the Manhattan Theatre Club named the lobby of its Broadway home – The Samuel J. Friedman Theatre – the “Shirley Herz and Bob Ullman Lobby.” Mr. Ullman was a longtime colleague.
Shirley Herz was born December 30, 1925 in Philadelphia. She dropped out of the University of Pennsylvania and headed to New York with one aim in life: to have a career in the theater. After six months of temporary jobs, she landed a publicity job and never looked back.
She worked on nearly 100 original Broadway plays, revivals, and musicals, including “Do Re Me,” “3 Penny Opera,” “Jerry’s Girls,” “Perfectly Frank,” “Legs Diamond,” “La Cage aux Folles,” “Gypsy” starring Tyne Daly, “The Royal Family,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “On Golden Pond,” “Oh! Calcutta!” and “Dancing at Lughnasa.”
Ms. Herz became Rosalind Russell’s personal press representative after their long tour of “Bell, Book and Candle,” and a Broadway run of “Wonderful Town” (1953). “I learned more about the theater from her, than anyone else, before or since,” she later recalled in an interview.
In 1971, she launched her own agency, Shirley Herz Associates. As a longtime member of the Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers (ATPAM), she served on its Board of Governors for decades. She was a member of The Broadway League and also served on the board of the nonprofit Dorothy Strelsin Foundation.
Her circle of friends include longtime clients Tyne Daly and producer Barry Brown and other friends/clients: Angela Lansbury, Zoe Caldwell, Colleen Dewhurst, Arthur Laurents, June Havoc, Fritz Holt, Jane Friedman, Rosemary Harris, Samuel J Friedman, Ellis Rabb, Julie Harris, Bob Callely, Eva Le Gallienne, Peter Allen, Enid Nemy, Gwin Chin, Tallulah Bankhead, and so many more. Her survivors include Beth and Jeff Alper, Herbert Boley and many other cousins from Philadelphia, including: Jeanette Aschenbrand, Joel Aschenbrand, Deborah Keller, and Dr. James and Gay Alper.
Some of the many playwrights whose productions Ms. Herz publicized included Edward Albee, Brian Friel, Frank McGuinness, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Sam Shepard, Harvey Fierstein and Jerry Herman.
Among Off-Broadway companies, she represented The Irish Repertory Theatre, Abingdon Theatre Company, The Living Theatre and Theater Breaking Through Barriers; in 1984, she opened Charles Busch’s “Vampire Lesbians of Sodom,” his first hit show.
Her vast resume contained numerous productions that performed all over the country: dance companies as varied as the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Vail, CO., The Feld, San Francisco Ballet, and others, as well as many companies at The Joyce Theater. She publicized the first U.S. engagement of the Moscow Circus, as well as World’s Fairs, films, television, books, nightclubs, restaurants and many other projects.
Ms. Herz served on the American Theatre Wing’s Advisory Committee for more than 25 years. Through the decades, she donated her services for numerous AIDS benefits, including “Best of the Best” at the Metropolitan Opera House in 1985; “Angela Lansbury – A Celebration;” GMHC’s “Mack and Mabel” concert; “Mr. Words – Ira Gershwin;” “Nothing Like a Dame;” and the historic reading of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” starring Uta Hagen.