ELVIS PRESLEY MUSEUM

William Morris Agency

FEBRUARY 1956 TYPED AND SIGNED WILLIAM MORRIS AGENCY LETTER.
TYPED TO THE COLONEL, SIGNED AND INSCRIBED BY THE COLONEL.


Founded in 1898, the William Morris Agency (WMA) is the largest and most diversified talent and literary agency in the world, with principal offices in New York, Beverly Hills, Nashville, London, Miami Beach and Shanghai.

The Agency represents clients in all segments of the entertainment industry, including Motion Pictures, Television, Music and Personal Appearances, Broadway Theatre and Theatrical Touring, Book Publishing, Commercial Endorsements, Sports Marketing, Corporate Consulting, Digital Media, and Video Games.

Industry breadth and diversity form the foundation of WMA's success. With its worldwide entertainment presence, the Agency is uniquely equipped to provide its clients with a global, cross-cultural perspective, introducing them to new and exciting opportunities in virtually every area of the media and entertainment industries.

Rare William Morris Agency letter typed to Elvis' manager Colonel Tom Parker, dated February 23rd 1956 and sent to the Hotel Roosevelt, Jacksonville  Florida, where the Colonel stayed and would also use as a temporary office. This letter refers to an upcoming Elvis Presley advertisement in a 1956 edition of both Variety and Billboard magazines.

The letter is hand signed by Jerry Collins a William Morris Agency representative.

Col Tom Parker has hand signed and inscribed this letter " Check this copy carefully Col Parker " in black fountain pen.

A rare piece from early 1956

You can also see Famous and Historic William Morris Agency contracts hand signed by Elvis Presley in the museum.





 
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William Morris Agency History

In 1898, a young German Jewish immigrant posted a cross-hatch trademark above his door in New York City - four X's, representing a W superimposed on an M - and went into business as "William Morris, Vaudeville Agent." During an illustrious history that spans three centuries, the William Morris Agency plays an integral role in shaping the face of entertainment.

By the time WMA formally incorporated in New York State on January 31, 1918, Morris was joined by son William, Jr., and office-boy-turned-agent-turned-partner Abe Lastfogel as directors of the company. Vaudeville was king, but the Agency didn't hesitate to aggressively identify, understand and develop business in new and emerging areas - a trend that continues today.

As silent film grew into an exciting new form of entertainment, Morris was quick to encourage his performing clients to experiment in the new medium while the competition held fast to vaudeville. Stars such as Al Jolson, the Marx Brothers, Mae West and Charlie Chaplin helped forge the Agency's dominance in New York and Hollywood.

The momentum continued to build during the 1920s. Clients included such luminaries as George Jessel. The nascent medium of radio provided yet another frontier to explore.

By 1930, after some 32 years at the helm, Morris passed leadership of the agency to his son and Abe Lastfogel. With Morris, Jr. heading the new office in Los Angeles and Mr. Lastfogel running the operation in New York City, the Agency featured an impressive roster of clients, including such superstars as Jimmy Cagney, Louis Armstrong and Will Rogers.

Just two years after his retirement, the indefatigable William Morris passed away from heart failure. It has been said that vaudeville died along with him, but the Agency he founded continued to thrive. The 1930s brought more growth and expansion, including a move from Hollywood and Vine to Canon Drive in Beverly Hills.

The William Morris Agency attained further industry dominance with the December 1949 acquisition of the Berg-Allenberg Agency. New clients included Frank Capra, Clark Gable and Judy Garland, joining a roster that already included Sammy Davis, Jr., Milton Berle and Rita Hayworth.

With the arrival of television, the 1940s also presented yet another entertainment frontier to conquer. Some worried about television's impact on the health of the film industry, but WMA recognized a new business paradigm that would eventually make it possible to package stars, producers, writers and show concepts for sale to corporate sponsors, which controlled television's early days.

The following decades brought unimagined success to scores of WMA clients, including Steve McQueen, Frank Sinatra, Andy Griffith, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Katharine Hepburn, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Kim Novak, Dick Van Dyke and Bill Cosby.

By 1965, WMA's Music Department had emerged as an industry powerhouse, representing, among others, the Rolling Stones, the Byrds, the Beach Boys and Sonny & Cher. Less than 10 years later, in 1973, the Agency's newly established Nashville office provided another significant boost to the operations of William Morris, extending the Agency's reach into country music and beyond.

The 1960s also saw many present-day entertainment industry leaders emerge from the famed William Morris Mailroom, continuing a trend that stretches back to Abe Lastfogel in New York and includes current WMA Chairman Norman Brokaw, who at age 15 became the first mailboy in the Beverly Hills Mailroom.

The 1980s kicked off with the construction of William Morris Plaza located at 150 El Camino Drive, directly across the street from its main building at 151 El Camino.

The Agency continued to expand in other ways, too. In 1989 WMA acquired the Jim Halsey Company, adding performers such as The Oak Ridge Boys, Waylon Jennings and Tammy Wynette.

In 1992, the Agency acquired Triad Artists, marking the largest acquisition of a talent agency in show business history. Some fifty Triad agents joined WMA's corps of talent and literary agents worldwide.

A year after the Triad acquisition, WMA again broke new ground with the creation of the Corporate Advisory/New Media Department, which evolved into William Morris Consulting (WMC). WMC now operates in a broad spectrum of industry segments, including telecommunications, technology, lodging, gaming, publishing, retail, and consumer products.

The early '90s also brought great success to WMA's Literary Department, which announced the largest book-to-screen deal ever inked when it sold the television rights for "Scarlett," the sequel to Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind. In 2000, WMA acquired The Writers Shop, augmenting an already distinguished list of writers, authors and novelists.

In August of 1999, Jim Wiatt, one of Hollywood's leading talent agents and Vice-Chairman of International Creative Management, joined William Morris as President and Co-Chief Executive Officer. Wiatt, who is now Chief Executive Officer, has opened an exciting new chapter in the Agency's long and successful history.

Always at the forefront of the industry, WMA was the first full-service talent agency to establish offices in Miami Beach, Florida and Shanghai, China, tapping into the burgeoning Latin and Asian markets. WMA's Miami Beach office opened in 2003, and WMA's Shanghai office opened in 2004.

In 2007 the Agency expanded its London music operation, underscoring WMA's continued commitment to the international marketplace. Along with the addition of new personnel, the London office moved into the iconic Centre Point Tower.

Today, as the largest and most diversified talent and literary agency in the world, with principal offices in Beverly Hills, New York, Nashville, London, Miami Beach and Shanghai, WMA is active in all segments of the entertainment industry, from Motion Pictures, Television, Music and Personal Appearances to Broadway Theatre and Theatrical Touring, Book Publishing, Commercial Endorsements, Sports Marketing and Corporate Consulting, Digital Media and Video Games.