Alan Eichler (born July 17, 1944) is an American theatrical producer, talent manager and press agent who has represented numerous stage productions, produced Grammy-winning record albums and managed such singers as Anita O'Day, Hadda Brooks, Nellie Lutcher, Ruth Brown, Johnnie Ray and Yma Sumac.
Early life and career
Born in Elmhurst, Queens, New York, United States, he began his career in the mailroom as an apprentice to the publicist Lee Solters in 1963, and worked his way up to account executive at Solters' firm Solters, O'Rourke and Sabinson. His clients during that time included the Rolling Stones, Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, the Hollywood Palace TV show, Dorothy Lamour (for her tour in Hello, Dolly!), and singers Paul Anka, Bobby Vinton, Edie Adams, Jane Morgan and Peggy Lee. Following admission to the Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers union in 1969, he worked as publicist on numerous Broadway hits including the original productions of Hello, Dolly! (musical), George M! and Hair (musical). He also promoted several major off-Broadway hits including Paul Zindel's The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, the Elaine May-Terrence McNally double-bill adaptation "Adaptation/Next (play)" with James Coco, Harold Pinter's The Tea Party and The Basement, the long-running rock musical Your Own Thing, Andre Gregory's experimental adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, and Tom Stoppard's The Real Inspector Hound. McNally also retained him as personal publicist for his plays Bad Habits, Whiskey, Where Has Tommy Flowers Gone? and The Ritz, and Zindel retained him to promote his books as well as the play And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little with Estelle Parsons and Julie Harris. Other shows included the long-running improvisational revue The Proposition, which helped launch the careers of Jane Curtin, Fred Grandy and Paul Kreppel. Eichler also represented several noteworthy "flops" during this period including Shelley Winters' only attempt at playwrighting, One Night Stands of a Noisy Passenger with Robert De Niro, Sally Kirkland and Diane Ladd; Tina Howe's The Nest with Jill Clayburgh; Leland Hayward's last production The Mother Lover with Eileen Heckart; Larry Kramer's Four Friends with Brad Davis (actor), and the nude exploitation show Score with Sylvester Stallone and Oscar-winner Claire Wilbur.
Later theatrical work and productions
In 1970, he began a long association with playwright Tom Eyen, starting with The Dirtiest Show in Town and continuing with the prison comedy Women Behind Bars (which Eichler also co-produced), The Neon Woman starring Divine, Why Hanna's Skirt Won't Stay Down with Helen Hanft, The White Whore and the Bit Player, and the Tony Award-winning musical Dreamgirls. He also worked with actor-director-playwright Charles Ludlam and helped establish Ludlam's Ridiculous Theatrical Company as one of the major forces of New York's avant-garde theatre, with such cult hits as Camille (performed by Ludlam in drag), Bluebeard, Stage Blood, Hot Ice, and the cabaret play The Ventriloquist's Wife. In 1974, he became co-producer with Geraldine Fitzgerald of her one-woman musical show Streetsongs, which had three separate extended theatrical runs over the next several years both on and off-Broadway, a TV version on PBS and an original cast record album. He also represented Fitzgerald for all of her other ventures for the rest of her stage and film career. He helped steer the course of an unusual 1975 rock opera entitled The Lieutenant, based on the My Lai Massacre, which began as a small workshop production at the Queens Theatre in the Park, before traveling to Broadway. It only managed to run for nine performances, but was nominated for four Tony Awards including Best Musical and Best Actor in a Musical (Eddie Mekka).
He promoted the 1976 Jerry Rubin self-help book Growing Up at Thirty-Seven. In 1978, he was associate producer of the Broadway musical Timbuktu!, an African-American adaptation of the Chet Forrest-Robert Wright musical Kismet, starring Eartha Kitt, Melba Moore and Gilbert Price. He also toured with the show for two years as press agent and continued to have a long association with Kitt. He next publicized the Broadway production of Martin Sherman's play Bent with Richard Gere. In 1980, he began a year-long tour as press agent with the first national company of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas starring Alexis Smith, following which he settled in Los Angeles. In 1994, he produced an original musical, Swanson on Sunset, about the attempts of Gloria Swanson to create a musical version of her film hit Sunset Boulevard, with writer Dickson Hughes and actor Richard Stapley. It played an extended engagement at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel Cinegrill and is currently being developed as a film.
Music and management
He shifted his focus to music and helped establish several major jazz clubs and cabarets including the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel's Cinegrill, the Oak Room at Perino's, the Westwood Marquis and the Vine St. Bar and Grill, where he also helped produced a series of live albums featuring Nina Simone, Joe Williams, Marlena Shaw, Etta James, Maxine Sullivan, Annie Ross, and LaVern Baker. In 1986, he produced all-star benefit shows at the Vine Street Bar and Grill that raised money to obtain a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Billie Holiday, as well as a headstone for singer Esther Phillips, who had been a regular performer at the club prior to her death.
He combined his knowledge of promotion with his love of veteran recording stars and helped restore the careers of such notables as Anita O'Day (who he managed for 25 years), Yma Sumac (who he managed for more than 20 years and launched on a new international career), Ruth Brown (who won a Tony, a Grammy Award and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), Johnnie Ray, Helen Forrest, Helen Ward (jazz singer), Nellie Lutcher, Ella Mae Morse, Marilyn Maye, Lillian Roth (including her comeback appearance in the Kander and Ebb musical 70, Girls, 70), Thelma Carpenter (including her Broadway run in Hello, Dolly! and her movie debut in The Wiz), Monica Lewis, Tommy Sands, Joanie Sommers, Roberta Sherwood, Maxine Sullivan, and Maxene Andrews of the Andrews Sisters (who he launched on a successful solo career in 1979). He brought Hadda Brooks out of a 16-year retirement, and signed her to Virgin Records, for whom he co-produced her albums "Time Was When" and "Even Santa Gets the Blues".
With Blossom Dearie, he co-produced the successful one-woman show Blossom at Tiffany's at the Tiffany Theatre in Los Angeles. In 1983, he created original cabaret acts for veteran film stars Vivian Blaine and Virginia O'Brien and produced live record albums of each show. Also in 1983, he launched Mamie Van Doren on a new career as a disco recording star, and she charted with first release, "State of Turmoil." Rhino Records released a compilation album, of Van Doren's earlier recordings entitled The Girl Who Invented Rock and Roll, she wrote a best-selling autobiography Playing the Field and along with Vivian Blaine, became the first AIDS activist in Los Angeles, openly lending her name to fund-raising causes at a time when they could not yet get celebrity endorsements. He helped Knot's Landing co-star Larry Riley launch a singing career in 1988, and produced the actor's tribute-show to Louis Jordan, Let the Good Times Roll. Eichler promoted the 50th anniversary concert by longtime client Patti Page at Carnegie Hall in 1997 and arranged the release of the live recording, which earned Page her first Grammy. He co-produced Ruth Brown's Grammy winning album Blues on Broadway, which competed against another nominated album he produced the same year, Anita O'Day's In a Mellow Tone. He helped O'Day recover from a long illness in 1999, and arranged for her comeback concert at New York's Avery Fisher Hall.
Eichler was instrumental in arranging LaVern Baker's return to the US after a 20-year absence, and obtained two new album deals for her with Rhino Records and DRG Records, during which time she made her Broadway debut as Ruth Brown's successor in Black and Blue, received the Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He also promoted comeback concerts for Joni James, at New York's Town Hall, Avery Fisher Hall and Carnegie Hall, as well as the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Theatre in Los Angeles and the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, where she was backed by the Count Basie Orchestra. He created and produced the show Voices—Hollywood's Secret Singing Stars, featuring four vocalists (Annette Warren, India Adams, Betty Wand and Jo Ann Greer), who had dubbed the singing voices for such film stars as Ava Gardner, Lucille Ball, Cyd Charisse, Joan Crawford, Esther Williams, Leslie Caron, Kim Novak and Rita Hayworth.
Eichler continues to work with many singers and recently produced a five-CD retrospective covering the seven-decade career of vocalist Jane Harvey, including previously-unreleased recordings she made with Duke Ellington, Les Paul and Ellis Larkins. Other current CD compilations include Patti Page, Judy Canova, Lillian Briggs, Mary Small, Annette Warren, Joanie Sommers, Jill Corey, and Peggy King. He is also an active participant in the Tom Eyen Trust, and the many productions of Eyen's Dreamgirls and other works that are produced throughout the world.
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- Benjamin A. Hodges. Forbidden acts: pioneering gay & lesbian plays of the twentieth century. Google Books. Retrieved January 26, 2012.
- Isenberg, Barbara (October 27, 1993). "How 'Sunset Boulevard' Got the Whiz-Bang Musical Treatment : The spooky and pathetic Norma Desmond. The creepy mansion on Sunset. The cynical, busted screenwriter. Andrew Lloyd Webber's vision of the classic film about Hollywood makes its U.S. debut in the town that spawned the original". Los Angeles Times. p. 6. Retrieved January 26, 2012.
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- "Blue Rhythms" by Chip Deffaa (Urbana,IL, University of Illinois Press,1996)p.179
- Alan Eichler says:. "Billie Holiday | Hollywood Walk of Fame". Walkoffame.com. Retrieved January 26, 2012.
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- biography of Yma Sumac: The Art Behind the Legend by Nicholas E. Limansky (New York, NY, YBK Publishers,2008)p.185
- autobiography of Ruth Brown: "Miss Rhythm" (New York, NY, Donald I. Fine Publishers,1996)
- biography of Johnnie Ray: "Beyond the Marquee" by Tad Mann (Bloomington,IN, Authorhouse, 2006)p.208
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- "THELMA CARPENTER – SEEMS LIKE OLD TIMES (SEPIA 1080)". Sepiarecords.com. November 6, 2006. Retrieved January 26, 2012.
- autobiography of Monica Lewis: Hollywood Through My Eyes (Brule, WI, Cable Publishing, 2011) p.247
- A Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers by Will Friedwald (New York, NY, Pantheon Books, 2010) p. 463
- Hawn, Jack (August 14, 1985). "48 Years After 'Bmbds,' Maxene Andrews Is A Solo". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 26, 2012.
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- "Vivian Blaine – Live In Hollywood (CD, Album) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved January 26, 2012.
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- autobiography of Mamie Van Doren: "Playing the Field" (New York, NY, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1987) p.273
- Heckman, Don (November 3, 1988). "CABARET REVIEW : Riley's Tribute to Louis Jordan". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 26, 2012.
- "SHORT TAKES : Singer Patti Page Gets Married". Los Angeles Times. May 14, 1990. Retrieved January 26, 2012.
- autobiography of Patti Page: "This Is My Song" (Bath,NH,Kathdan Books,2009)
- "Alan Eichler @ ARTISTdirect.com – Free Alan Eichler Music Videos, Downloads, News, Biography, MP3, Lyrics and More". Artistdirect.com. Retrieved January 26, 2012.
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- Gardner, Elysa (August 26, 1995). "Hall of Famer Returns to the Spotlight : Pop Beat: After a roller-coaster career and losing both legs to diabetes, singer LaVern Baker prepares for a Cinegrill gig and plans a life beyond concerts.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 26, 2012.
- "James, Joni". eNotes.com. Retrieved January 26, 2012.
- "'Voices' Revue to Open Aug. 27". Los Angeles Times. August 16, 1991. Retrieved January 26, 2012.