Shirley Herz

Press

Female

Member of
Shirley Herz Associates

Born: December 30, 1925
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Died: August 11, 2013
New York, New York

Obituary: Shirley Herz, a veteran theatre press agent who ran her own firm at a time when her industry was dominated by men, died Aug. 11, at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. The cause was complications from a stroke suffered on July 18 2013, said Sam Altman, a longtime friend.

Born December 30, 1925 in Philadelphia, Ms. Herz worked in the theatre trenches for 65 years. She was honored in 2008 by having a section of the renamed Biltmore Theatre, now the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on West 47th Street, christened the “Shirley Herz and Bob Ullman Lobby." (Bob Ullman, also a press agent, was a longtime colleague.)

In 2009, the American Theatre Wing and the Broadway League awarded a special Tony Award for “Excellence in Theatre,” given to “individuals that have demonstrated extraordinary achievement in theater but are not eligible in any of the established Tony categories." A year later, she received the Theatre Hall of Fame Founders Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Theatre. 

She worked on nearly 100 Broadway plays, revivals, and musicals, including Do Re Me, 3 Penny Opera, Jerry’s Girls, Perfectly Frank, Legs Diamond, Gypsy starring Tyne Daly, The Royal Family, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Singin’ in the Rain, Fiddler on the Roof, On Golden Pond, Oh! Calcutta! and Dancing at Lughnasa.

Perhaps her proudest credit was the Jerry Herman musical La Cage aux Folles, which she help ferry to four years of success on Broadway. "That was a three and a half year laugh," she said of the show. "I had a fabulous time on that." Demand for tickets to the hit was so great at one time that scalpers were getting $500 a ticket (in 1984), and Tony Bennett gladly accepted standing room.

Shirley Herz dropped out of the University of Pennsylvania. She found a job in publicity six months after having moved to New York, and remained in that line for the rest of her life.

"I always thought I was going to be a doctor,” she old Playbill in 2004. “And then, in junior high school, I would save my allowance and go to the Forrest Theater every Saturday matinee. One day I saw Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story. She gave the first curtain speech I had ever seen. She came out, and there was some magic in it that made me think, ‘I want to be a part of that world.’ I never wanted to be an actress, but I thought there has to be something else for me to do." Because the Hepburn moment was so magical for her, she didn't want it spoiled; she spent decades dodging opportunities to meet the actress.

She became Rosalind Russell's personal press representative after her long tour of Bell, Book and Candle, and a Broadway run of Wonderful Town (1953). She then apprenticed under Broadway press agent Dorothy Ross, working on House of Flowers, a 1954 musical by Harold Arlen with book by Truman Capote. To accept the $50-a-week position, she left a job at an ad agency, where she earned $175 a week. Part of her duties including bringing news items about Ross' clients to the powerful newspaper columnists of the day, such as Walter Winchell, hoping that they were be printed.

"It was very personal and a lot of fun," she recalled later. "You would write an item and send it to Winchell and he’d send it back to you unused. You had to wait till it came back. Then you’d rewrite it for Kilgallen. Then she wouldn’t use it, so you’d rewrite it for Jack O’Brian. Or Leonard Lyons."

She later worked with Friedman and Bill Doll, another well known publicist of the time. Friedman, known for his temper, was unhappy having a woman in the office, complaining that he could no longer curse at will.

She would often work tirelessly to promote her shows. When sales to a June Havoc show called Marathon '33 dropped sharply following the assassination of President Kennedy, she and Havoc went out in Herz' car, which was filled with show posters. "We would glue them on telephone booths, bus stops and storefronts from 125th Street down to the Bowery," recalled Havoc. "I had lived through vaudeville, Broadway and Hollywood, but until that night, vandalism had not entered my life."

In 1971, she launched her own agency, Shirley Herz Associates. As a longtime member of the Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers (ATPAM), she served on its Board of Governors for decades. She was a member of The Broadway League and also served on the board of the nonprofit Dorothy Strelsin Foundation.

Among Off-Broadway companies, she represented The Irish Repertory Theatre, Abingdon Theatre Company, The Living Theatre and Theater Breaking Through Barriers; in 1984, she banged the drum for Charles Busch's Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, his first hit show.

  Through the decades, she donated her services for numerous AIDS benefits, including the legendary "Best of the Best" concert at the Metropolitan Opera House in 1985, an event which eventually gave birth to Equity Fights AIDS; "Angela Lansbury – A Celebration"; and a historic reading of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? starring Uta Hagen.

  Shirley Herz married Herbert Boley in 1948. They never divorced. He survives her, as do Beth and Jeff Alper, and many other cousins from Philadelphia.

Blonde, salty and possessed of a dry sense of humor, Ms. Herz was known as a straight shooter. "I remember once that Judith Crist of the old Herald Tribune introduced me and said, ‘No matter what she tells you, you can believe her, good or bad,'" she told Playbill. "That’s the kind of relationship that you have to have, and that you have to maintain."

 

Roles

Playbill Cover - Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Mar. 20, 2005 - Sep. 4, 2005
General Press Representative
Shirley Herz Associates
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?
Mar. 10, 2002 - Dec. 15, 2002
Press Representative
Shirley Herz Associates
(Original)
 
    Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Translations Translations
Mar. 19, 1995 - Apr. 9, 1995
Press Representative
Shirley Herz Associates
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Rise and Fall of Little Voice The Rise and Fall of Little Voice
May 1, 1994 - May 8, 1994
Press Representative
Shirley Herz Associates
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - A Little More Magic A Little More Magic
Mar. 17, 1994 - Apr. 10, 1994
General Press Representative
Shirley Herz Associates
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Wonderful Tennessee Wonderful Tennessee
Oct. 24, 1993 - Oct. 31, 1993
General Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Mixed Emotions Mixed Emotions
Oct. 12, 1993 - Nov. 28, 1993
Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Someone Who'll Watch Over Me Someone Who'll Watch Over Me
Nov. 23, 1992 - Jun. 13, 1993
General Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Crazy He Calls Me Crazy He Calls Me
Jan. 27, 1992 - Feb. 1, 1992
General Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Catskills on Broadway Catskills on Broadway
Dec. 5, 1991 - Jan. 3, 1993
General Press Representative
(Original)
 
Peter Pan
Nov. 26, 1991 - Jan. 5, 1992
General Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Park Your Car in Harvard Yard Park Your Car in Harvard Yard
Nov. 7, 1991 - Feb. 22, 1992
Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Dancing at Lughnasa Dancing at Lughnasa
Oct. 24, 1991 - Oct. 25, 1992
General Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Peter Pan Peter Pan
Dec. 13, 1990 - Jan. 20, 1991
General Press Representative
Shirley Herz Associates
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Shogun, the Musical Shogun, the Musical
Nov. 20, 1990 - Jan. 20, 1991
Press Representative
Shirley Herz Associates
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Fiddler on the Roof Fiddler on the Roof
Nov. 18, 1990 - Jun. 16, 1991
General Press Representative
Shirley Herz Associates
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - A Change in the Heir A Change in the Heir
Apr. 29, 1990 - May 13, 1990
Press Representative
Shirley Herz Associates
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Mar. 21, 1990 - Aug. 1, 1990
Press Representative
Shirley Herz Associates
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Gypsy Gypsy
Nov. 16, 1989 - Jul. 28, 1991
General Press Representative
Shirley Herz Associates
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Prince of Central Park Prince of Central Park
Nov. 9, 1989 - Nov. 11, 1989
General Press Representative
Shirley Herz Associates
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Threepenny Opera Threepenny Opera
Nov. 5, 1989 - Dec. 31, 1989
General Press Representative
Shirley Herz Associates
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Dangerous Games Dangerous Games
Oct. 19, 1989 - Oct. 21, 1989
General Press Representative
Shirley Herz Associates
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Starmites Starmites
Apr. 27, 1989 - Jun. 18, 1989
General Press Representative
Shirley Herz Associates
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Chu Chem Chu Chem
Mar. 17, 1989 - May 14, 1989
General Press Representative
Shirley Herz Associates
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Cafe Crown Cafe Crown
Feb. 18, 1989 - Mar. 26, 1989
Press Representative
Shirley Herz Associates
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Legs Diamond Legs Diamond
Dec. 26, 1988 - Feb. 19, 1989
General Press Representative
Shirley Herz Associates
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Paul Robeson Paul Robeson
Sep. 28, 1988 - Oct. 9, 1988
General Press Representative
Shirley Herz Associates
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Burn This Burn This
Oct. 14, 1987 - Oct. 29, 1988
General Press Representative
Shirley Herz Associates
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - All My Sons All My Sons
Apr. 22, 1987 - May 17, 1987
Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Raggedy Ann Raggedy Ann
Oct. 16, 1986 - Oct. 19, 1986
General Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Jerry's Girls Jerry's Girls
Dec. 18, 1985 - Apr. 20, 1986
General Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Singin' in the Rain Singin' in the Rain
Jul. 2, 1985 - May 18, 1986
General Press Representative
Shirley Herz Associates
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Home Front Home Front
Jan. 2, 1985 - Jan. 12, 1985
General Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Quilters Quilters
Sep. 25, 1984 - Oct. 14, 1984
Press Representative for Mr. Lawrence
Shirley Herz Associates
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Open Admissions Open Admissions
Jan. 29, 1984 - Feb. 12, 1984
General Press Representative
Shirley Herz Associates
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Marilyn Marilyn
Nov. 20, 1983 - Dec. 3, 1983
General Press Representative
Shirley Herz Associates
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - La Cage aux Folles La Cage aux Folles
Aug. 21, 1983 - Nov. 15, 1987
General Press Representative
(Original)
 
    General Press Representative
Shirley Herz Associates
(Original)
 
The Ritz
May 2, 1983 - May 2, 1983
Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Ned & Jack Ned & Jack
Nov. 8, 1981 - Nov. 8, 1981
General Press Representative
Shirley Herz Associates
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Wally's Cafe Wally's Cafe
Jun. 12, 1981 - Jun. 20, 1981
Press Representative
Shirley Herz Associates
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Five O'Clock Girl The Five O'Clock Girl
Jan. 28, 1981 - Feb. 8, 1981
General Press Representative
Shirley Herz Associates
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - To Grandmother's House We Go To Grandmother's House We Go
Jan. 15, 1981 - Mar. 8, 1981
General Press Representative
Shirley Herz Associates
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Onward Victoria Onward Victoria
Dec. 14, 1980 - Dec. 14, 1980
General Press Representative
Shirley Herz Associates
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Perfectly Frank Perfectly Frank
Nov. 30, 1980 - Dec. 13, 1980
General Press Representative
Shirley Herz Associates
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Happy New Year Happy New Year
Apr. 27, 1980 - May 10, 1980
General Press Representative
(Original)
 
Canterbury Tales
Feb. 12, 1980 - Feb. 24, 1980
General Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Lady from Dubuque The Lady from Dubuque
Jan. 31, 1980 - Feb. 9, 1980
General Press Representative
(Original)
 
King of Schnorrers
Nov. 28, 1979 - Jan. 13, 1980
General Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Strider Strider
Nov. 14, 1979 - May 18, 1980
General Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - On Golden Pond On Golden Pond
Sep. 12, 1979 - Apr. 20, 1980
General Press Representative
(Original)
 
The Madwoman of Central Park West
Jun. 13, 1979 - Aug. 25, 1979
General Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - My Old Friends My Old Friends
Apr. 12, 1979 - May 27, 1979
Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Platinum Platinum
Nov. 12, 1978 - Dec. 10, 1978
General Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The November People The November People
Jan. 14, 1978 - Jan. 14, 1978
General Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - An Almost Perfect Person An Almost Perfect Person
Oct. 27, 1977 - Jan. 28, 1978
General Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Night of the Tribades The Night of the Tribades
Oct. 13, 1977 - Oct. 22, 1977
General Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Royal Family The Royal Family
Dec. 30, 1975 - Jul. 18, 1976
General Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Summer Brave Summer Brave
Oct. 26, 1975 - Nov. 9, 1975
Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Ride the Winds Ride the Winds
May 16, 1974 - May 18, 1974
Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Holiday Holiday
Dec. 26, 1973 - Feb. 16, 1974
Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Chemin de Fer Chemin de Fer
Nov. 26, 1973 - Feb. 16, 1974
Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Visit The Visit
Nov. 25, 1973 - Feb. 16, 1974
Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Women The Women
Apr. 25, 1973 - Jun. 17, 1973
Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Look Away Look Away
Jan. 7, 1973 - Jan. 7, 1973
Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Ring Around the Bathtub Ring Around the Bathtub
Apr. 29, 1972 - Apr. 29, 1972
Press Representative
(Original)
 
Hedda Gabler
Feb. 17, 1971 - Jun. 19, 1971
Press Representative
(Original)
 
A Doll's House
Jan. 13, 1971 - Jun. 26, 1971
Press
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Rothschilds The Rothschilds
Oct. 19, 1970 - Jan. 1, 1972
Press Representative
(Replacement)
 
Playbill Cover - Oh! Calcutta! Oh! Calcutta!
Jun. 17, 1969 - Aug. 12, 1972
Press Representative
(Original)
 
    Press Associate
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Forty Carats Forty Carats
Dec. 26, 1968 - Nov. 7, 1970
Press Representative
(Replacement)
 
Playbill Cover - The Family Way The Family Way
Jan. 13, 1965 - Jan. 16, 1965
Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Zizi Zizi
Nov. 21, 1964 - Jan. 2, 1965
Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Conversation at Midnight Conversation at Midnight
Nov. 12, 1964 - Nov. 14, 1964
Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - A Girl Could Get Lucky A Girl Could Get Lucky
Sep. 20, 1964 - Sep. 26, 1964
Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Marathon '33 Marathon '33
Dec. 22, 1963 - Feb. 1, 1964
Press
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Children from Their Games Children from Their Games
Apr. 11, 1963 - Apr. 13, 1963
Press Representative
(Original)
 
Romulus
Jan. 10, 1962 - Mar. 10, 1962
Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Everybody Loves Opal Everybody Loves Opal
Oct. 11, 1961 - Oct. 28, 1961
Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Mary, Mary Mary, Mary
Mar. 8, 1961 - Dec. 12, 1964
Press Representative
(Replacement)
 
Happy Town
Oct. 7, 1959 - Oct. 10, 1959
Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Cold Wind and the Warm The Cold Wind and the Warm
Dec. 8, 1958 - Mar. 21, 1959
Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Miss Isobel Miss Isobel
Dec. 26, 1957 - Feb. 8, 1958
Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Rumple Rumple
Nov. 6, 1957 - Dec. 14, 1957
Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Compulsion Compulsion
Oct. 24, 1957 - Feb. 22, 1958
Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Cave Dwellers The Cave Dwellers
Oct. 19, 1957 - Jan. 11, 1958
Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Romanoff and Juliet Romanoff and Juliet
Oct. 10, 1957 - Sep. 13, 1958
General Press Representative
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - House of Flowers House of Flowers
Dec. 30, 1954 - May 21, 1955
Press Assistant
(Original)
 
 

Awards


Tony Award

Year Category Production Winner/Nominee
2009 Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre Winner
 
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