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Movie Talent Agent Stanley Kamen Dies

February 21, 1986|BURT A. FOLKART | Times Staff Writer

Stanley A. Kamen, whose soft-spoken, minimum-profile belied the power he wielded as one of Hollywood's better-known and most successful agents, died Thursday at UCLA Medical Center.

He was 60 and had been undergoing treatment for lymphoma.

A native of New York City and a law school graduate of Washington and Lee in Lexington, Va., Kamen at his death was executive vice president and member of the board of directors of the William Morris Agency. He was better known, however, as the talent agent who made a leading man of a young "heavy" named Steve McQueen and who over the years represented Barbra Streisand, Warren Beatty, Walter Matthau, Joan Collins and Gregory Peck, among others.

He joined the Morris agency's legal department in New York City after graduating from school but in 1953 was persuaded by a Morris executive to relocate in Los Angeles. Here he turned from the law to agentry, persuading the late actor-producer Dick Powell to hire McQueen for a tentative TV series called "Wanted Dead or Alive" and then secured for the young actor a feature film, "The Magnificent Seven."

He asked Columbia Pictures to rewrite the co-starring role in "The China Syndrome" into a female part after Richard Dreyfuss pulled out of the picture and then secured Jane Fonda to play opposite Jack Lemmon.

In 1980, Kamen became one of seven younger agents added to the Morris board of directors--the first additions to the near-century-old board since 1953.

By that point, he was Morris' worldwide head of motion picture operations, suggesting talent and arranging financing for dozens of major films.

Privately, Kamen was a major local supporter of Israel and in 1984 was given the Israel Prime Minister's Award for his long service to that nation.

On Thursday, Streisand remembered him as a unique film executive who "didn't have a malicious bone in his body" and a man who "always conducted himself with dignity, integrity and honesty."

Kamen is survived by a sister, Judy Mitchell of Pacific Palisades. At his request, there will be no funeral or memorial service.

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