Producer George Shapiro, who managed stars such as Jerry Seinfeld, Andy Kaufman and Carl Reiner, died Thursday. He was 91.
Shapiro died at his home in Beverly Hills, California, Variety reported.
The Bronx-born Shapiro teamed with his late business partner, Howard West, to bring the sitcom “Seinfeld” to television, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The pair founded Shapiro/West Associates and also did numerous projects for Kaufman in addition to their work on the “Seinfeld” sitcom, Variety reported.
The duo also helped guide the careers of Reiner, Robert Wuhl, Marty Feldman, Gabe Kaplan and Peter Bonerz, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“Shapiro’s love of laughter and reverence for those who inspire it helped him build a career in comedy as an unabashed supporter of comic performers and comedy writers,” Shapiro’s family said in a statement.
More recently, Shapiro was executive producer of the Crackle/Netflix series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” which was hosted by Seinfeld, according to Variety.
Danny DeVito, who co-starred with Kaufman on “Taxi” from 1978 to 1983, later played Shapiro in the 1999 biopic about Kaufman, “Man on the Moon,” that starred Jim Carrey, according to Variety.
“George was one of the sweetest guys on the planet,” DeVito said in a statement. “We got to see that smiling face every Friday night during the ‘Taxi’ days. He never missed a show.
Born on May 18, 1931, and raised in the New York City borough of the Bronx, Shapiro had a decades-long partnership with West, a childhood friend who died in December 2015.
Shapiro spent summers during his teenage years as a lifeguard at Tamiment Resort in the Pocono Mountains, where he met such performers as Dick Shawn, Pat Carroll, Carol Burnett, Barbara Cook, future director Herbert Ross, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Equally important to his career, Shapiro met talent agents.
“I didn’t even know what an agent was, but they came to see the show, to talk to the girls, talk to the comedians,” Shapiro said during a Television Academy Foundation interview, according to Deadline. “I said, ‘This is your job? To watch the show, to have a nice dinner, to come to a resort with a lake? I have to look into that.’”
Shapiro served as executive producer for the Showtime special “Andy Kaufman at Carnegie Hall” and “The Andy Kaufman Special,” Variety reported. Other specials he put together included Elayne Boosler’s “Broadway Baby” for Showtime,” Seinfeld’s “Stand-Up Confidential” for HBO and the animated “The 2000 Year Old Man,” with Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner reprising their buddy act for HBO.
Shapiro also was executive producer for the 2001 documentary “Comedian,” which traced Jerry Seinfeld’s return to stand-up comedy after “Seinfeld” ended its successful run on television.
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