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Jack Rollins Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trade Mark (1)  | Trivia (11)

Overview (3)

Born in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA
Died in Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA
Birth NameJacob Rabinowitz

Mini Bio (1)

Jack Rollins was born on March 23, 1915 in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA as Jacob Rabinowitz. He was a producer, known for Match Point (2005), Mighty Aphrodite (1995) and Whatever Works (2009). He was married to Pearl (Jane) Rose Levine. He died on June 18, 2015 in Manhattan, New York City.

Spouse (1)

Pearl (Jane) Rose Levine (1948 - 1 January 2012) ( her death) ( 3 children)

Trade Mark (1)

Frequent co-producer or executive producer of 'Woody Allen' films.

Trivia (11)

Co-produced nearly all of Woody Allen films ever since 1969, except Love and Death (1975).
He was a producer and talent manager whose clients included Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Lenny Bruce, and the comedy team of Mike Nichols and Elaine May.
His father, a blacksmith in Kiev, became a garment worker in New York.
He was drafted into the Army during WWII. He spent most of the war in India, decoding communications. One of his commanding officers was movie star Melvyn Douglas, who staged shows for troops in the China-Burma-India theater. He helped Rollins with contacts to get started as a producer after the war.
For all his influence on comedy, Jack Rollins -- who had a rumpled look and often sported a cigar -- was known as someone who couldn't tell a joke. But there were funny stories about him, including one that Billy Crystal told the Tribune in 1986. Crystal was doing stand-up in 1974 when Jack Rollins came to see him in a Manhattan club. After the performance, a nervous Crystal offered Rollins a ride home, which turned out to be even more nerve-wracking because the manager spent the drive criticizing his act. Finally, they reached Rollins' home. "He got to his front door," Crystal said, "and he headed back to my car. I thought he was going to say something like, 'I thought you were terrific' or 'I didn't mean to hurt your feelings,' but he said to me, 'Would you mind taking me back? I just realized I drove over there tonight and left my car.'" Crystal said, "Jack's notes on my work always meant everything to me. To me he was a real Giant. Referring to Rollins as an 'old person' is extremely impolite. Rollins (b:March 23, 1915-to-d:June 18, 2015) was a Centenarian." Rollins' wife, Jane, died in 2013. Rollins is survived by daughters Susan, Francesca, and Hillary, and four grandchildren.
Rollins wasn't aiming for a show business career in particular, according to his daughter Francesca. "He didn't know what he wanted to do," Francesca said. "He had to find something where he could stay up late, and get up late and not require him to punch a clock. That wasn't his style." The answer came when he was in the Army during World War II, stationed on a base in India. He got involved in a satirical revue about Army life and decided show business was his calling. Back in New York after the war, he was looking for plays to produce without much luck when he became a manager by "sheer accident," Jack Rollins was quoted as saying in the 1991 book "The Compass," about the improvisational-group that gave Nichols and May their start. "I was strolling in the Village courting my wife," Rollins said. "We peered into the window of a tiny restaurant, and there was Harry Belafonte, flipping hamburgers." Rollins' soon-to-be wife, Jane, (deceased 2012) recognized Belafonte as a struggling pop singer seeking to switch to folk music. Belafonte became Jack Rollins' first major client. Rollins helped forge a new image for the singer, leading to early successes. Rollins and Belafonte had a bitter falling-out after a few years, but Rollins had earned a reputation as a manager who had solid instincts when it came to building careers. Jack Rollins and Charles Joffe were known for taking on only a few clients at a time. Eventually, Charles Joffe worked almost solely with Allen and Jack Rollins focused on David Letterman. Jack Rollins was listed as executive producer on the NBC show "Late Night with David Letterman" from 1983 to 1991.
Jack Rollins and his longtime business partner, Charles Joffe, who died in 2008, liked to find young talent to nurture. "Rollins," Joan Rivers told the Tribune in 1986, "could take a grain of sand and make it into an industry." That was never more true than with Woody Allen, who came to Jack Rollins' Manhattan office in the late 1950s because he wanted to write for Nichols and May, the hip comedy act of the era. That wouldn't work out because the duo created their own material, but Jack Rollins and Charles Joffe saw something in the young TV writer. "He'd be dead serious when he read a sketch of his, but it hit us funny," Rollins told the New York Times in 1985. "Woody didn't know why we were laughing. He'd give a 'what's so funny?' look." Jack Rollins and Charles Joffe encouraged the deadpan Allen to do stand-up. Painful at first, "The first 18 months as a stand-up comedian were horrendous,' Rollins said in the 1986 Tribune interview. "Woody was the worst comedian you can possibly imagine -- zero grace as a performer." Finally the tide turned. "Woody got a smile, then a laugh, and then a cult." Woody Allen never forgot the manager who stuck by him. Allen continued to list Rollins as a producer on his films -- including "Irrational Man," -- long after the manger retired. "Jack Rollins had not been involved with his films for many years," Robert Weide, director of the 2012 film "Woody Allen: A Documentary," said in an interview, "I'm not sure if they even talked much." Weide asked Allen why he continued to give Rollins the credit. "Because without Jack," Allen replied, "I wouldn't have a career. Rollins was one of the very few people in my life who lived up to the hype about him. All the stories about how great Jack Rollins was are true".
Born Jacob Rabinowitz on March 23, 1915, in Brooklyn, he graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School and earned a degree at City College of New York.
Along the way, Jack Rollins helped create the role of the modern show business manager. "When I went into this business in 1946, there weren't managers. There was only Milton Berle's mother" he said in a 1988 Chicago Tribune interview.
Legendary talent manager Jack Rollins' client list played a key role in defining comedy in the last half of the 20th century and beyond; Lenny Bruce, Woody Allen, David Letterman, Robin Williams, Joan Rivers, Billy Crystal, Mike Nichols, Elaine May, Paula Poundstone, Martin Short, Robert Klein -- all were on his client roster at one point or another.
Inducted into the Personal Managers Hall of Fame in 2015.

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