Sue Mengers, Filmmakers and Actors, Died at 79

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Sue Mengers died on October 15, 2011 at the age of 79 from pneumonia at her home in Beverly Hills, California.

Mengers was born in Hamburg, Germany, on September 2, 1932, according to Ms. Boatwright, to George Mengers and the former Ruth Levy.

She came with her family to the United States in the late 1930s, first settling in Utica, New York, and then moving to the Bronx.

She married Jean-Claude Tramont in 1973.

She was a talent agent for many significant filmmakers and actors of the New Hollywood generation of the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s.

Her first big score was actress Julie Harris, who was primarily a stage performer.

To Mengers’ surprise, Harris wanted to appear on an episode of Bonanza.

Mengers contacted the producer, who commissioned a specially written episode for Harris.

Mengers represented Anthony Perkins, who had not worked in the United States since Psycho (1960).

She contacted producer Ray Stark and obtained for Perkins a role in director René Clément’s film Is Paris Burning? (1966).

In the late 1960s, she was hired by Creative Management Associates (CMA), a boutique agency owned by Freddie Fields.

CMA’s clients included Paul Newman, Steve McQueen and Robert Redford.

On December 30, 1974, Fields sold the agency to Marvin Josephson’s International Famous Agency (IFA); the two merged to became International Creative Management (ICM).

Mengers represented Candice Bergen, Peter Bogdanovich, Steve McQueen, Mike Nichols, Nick Nolte, Tatum O’Neal, Ryan O’Neal, Burt Reynolds, Cybill Shepherd, Barbra Streisand, Gore Vidal, and Tuesday Weld, among others.

By the early 70s she was not only the most powerful female agent in Hollywood, she was the town’s most powerful agent period.

At one time or another, she represented Barbra Streisand, Candice Bergen, Michael Caine, Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, Cher, Joan Collins, Burt Reynolds, and Nick Nolte—all at various heights of their careers, and some of whom she was still speaking to at the time of her death.

She also represented the directors they wanted to work for, men such as Mike Nichols, Peter Bogdanovich, Brian DePalma, Bob Fosse, and Sidney Lumet.

Sue became, in fact, the Elsa Maxwell of Southern California.

She was most certainly a star snob, and she wanted only above-the-line talent, as they say out there.

Years ago, you’d find Brando, Newman, and Coppola at her place, and indeed, dinner at Sue’s was like stepping into the Hollywood you imagined but almost never experienced.

Her house was a John Woolf jewel, with great, tall Hollywood Regency doors and a living room that looked over a largely unused, egg-shaped pool.

The room was awash with soft colors, Aubusson, and white orchids.

Sue would sit at one end of the seating area, two large facing sofas flanking her and a chair at the other end.

She held court, to be sure. But she always brought out the best in her guests.

At Sue’s, everyone was funnier, and quicker, and smarter than they were anywhere else. And as a result everyone went to her place.

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