Roger Richman, Agent Who Fought for Legal rights of Stars’ Heirs, Dies at sixty nine

October 19th, 2013

Bob Galbraith/Linked Press

Roger Richman posed with Marilyn Monroe items in 1992.

Roger Richman, a celebrity agent who is extensively credited with helping to invent the useless-superstar sector, a multimillion-dollar realm developed on licensing the rights to photos of the prominent posthumously, died on Oct. 9 in Los Angeles. He was sixty nine.

His death was verified by his son, Alexander Steenbakkers-Noffke, who said his father experienced been hospitalized but did not specify the ailment.

In 1984, Mr. Richman, whose clientele integrated the heirs of Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe, Sigmund Freud and Bela Lugosi, assisted press by way of the California Celeb Rights Act, the formative laws in an work to safeguard the rights of movie star estates. He traveled frequently to Sacramento to lobby lawmakers, sometimes bringing along properly-linked advocates, like the children of John Wayne, the widow of Fred Astaire or the dwelling Elizabeth Taylor to join him in committee meetings. When the legislation handed that September, it gave heirs management over how a celebrity’s impression, voice or title was utilised posthumously.

No more time could an opportunistic company lawfully make T-shirts, rest room paper or television commercials bearing the likenesses of famous useless folks with out initial getting their estates to approve. Estates could sue and really probably would win.

The law’s passage proved a financial boon to the heirs of many stars. New merchandising efforts and afterlife advertising and marketing strategies appeared. One particular of the most notable was a Ford Mustang business that ran in the early 2000s featuring a computer-simulated Steve McQueen speeding by way of a cornfield far more than two a long time after he died.

“The common denominator when Roger and I have been operating at this in the eighties is that clients we would strategy weren’t represented by any person,” recalled Mark Roesler, the founder and main executive of CMG Throughout the world, a major agency in symbolizing celeb estates. “They did not have any idea that they had protectable residence rights.”

Mr. Roesler named Mr. Richman “a quite important figure” in setting up publicity rights for useless celebs.

The business, which created both gentlemen very rich, was not 1 that Mr. Richman had predicted to pursue.

“I was completely broke and doing miscellaneous jobs, which includes some solution placement work,” he advised Los Angeles magazine in 2004. “I’d licensed some celebrity posters. I did one particular of Abba and a single of Brooke Shields. In Might of 1979, W. C. Fields’s men and women called me up and wished me to be their agent, and I stated, ‘What agent? He’s been useless 32 many years!’ ”

The Fields heirs ended up not content about a poster currently being offered that superimposed the comedian’s head on a physique clothed only in a diaper. Mr. Richman explained to them that their possibilities had been restricted due to the fact, beneath the law at the time, a celebrity’s publicity legal rights did not increase to heirs.

That regular was rooted in a ruling by the California Supreme Courtroom. In the early 1970s, the court overturned a selection in a circumstance introduced by the son of Bela Lugosi, the Hungarian-American actor ideal acknowledged for actively playing Depend Dracula. Bela Lugosi Jr. argued in a decrease court docket that he and his stepmother, not Universal Studios, owned reproduction legal rights to his father’s graphic.

He won that situation, but the large courtroom reversed the decrease courtroom ruling on the ground that no proof had been proven that Mr. Lugosi offered his impression for business reasons for the duration of his life. Had he completed so, the court docket said, that would have proven precedent for his heirs to argue that they experienced inherited his salable picture as residence.

As Mr. Richman analyzed the ruling, he noticed an opening: many other stars, which includes Fields, had bought their photographs via marketing. When Mr. Richman uncovered soon afterward that the United States Postal Support was planning a commemorative stamp in honor of Fields’s birthday, he referred to as the service. He before long acquired a call back again from William J. Jones, a top lawyer for the support.

“ ‘Who are you? This is preposterous!’ ” Mr. Richman recalled Mr. Jones saying. “To make a prolonged tale limited, I talked about the decision, he go through it, and I was the very first particular person in history to license the Postal Support.”

Roger Blum Richman was born on Jan. 18, 1944, in Washington. His father was a rabbi and his mom an artist. He graduated from Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio, with a diploma in business administration. He afterwards gained his regulation degree from Vanderbilt College. He labored as a personnel law firm for the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and afterwards in enjoyment and professional legislation in New York. He also served finance films.

In 1978, he established the Roger Richman Agency. He offered the firm in 2005 to the picture licensing business Corbis.

In addition to his son, Mr. Richman is survived by his spouse, Diane Shulman two grandchildren and a sister, Paulette Rochelle-Levy.

Mr. Roesler, who worked with Mr. Richman to get regulations passed in other states similar to the 1 in California, said at least 16 states now had them. Bela Lugosi Jr., now a publicity rights attorney in Los Angeles, mentioned that celebrities’ rights soon after loss of life have been typically dependent on in which they died.

But, he included, “Oftentimes that’s California.”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.