Jack Rollins (producer)
Rollins in 1984
March 23, 1915
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||June 18, 2015
Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S.
|Occupation||Film and television producer and talent manager|
Jack Rollins (born Jacob Rabinowitz; March 23, 1915 – June 18, 2015) was an American film and television producer and talent manager of comedians and television personalities. His first major success came in the 1950s when he managed actor and singer Harry Belafonte. Rollins co-wrote the song Man Piaba with Belafonte on his 1954 debut RCA Victor album Mark Twain and other Folk Favorites. In 1958 he helped create and promote the comedy duo Nichols and May. He went on to help shepherd the careers of several prominent comedians with his partner Charles H. Joffe, beginning in 1960 with Woody Allen and later with Dick Cavett, Billy Crystal, David Letterman, and Robin Williams.
Rollins' work as a film and television producer was closely tied to the artists that he managed. He was credited as an executive producer on many of the films directed by Woody Allen from 1969 to 2015. From 1970 to 1972 he was an executive producer on ABC's The Dick Cavett Show and from 1982 to 1992 he was an executive producer of the long running NBC series Late Night With David Letterman. Between the two shows he was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award ten times.
Life and career
Born Jacob Rabinowitz in Brooklyn, Rollins was the son of Yiddish-speaking immigrants from Russia. In 1933 he graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School, and in 1937 earned a bachelor's degree from the City College of New York. He spent two years working for an orphanage in Chicago before being drafted into the United States Army during World War II.
Rollins worked as a decoder of communications in India during the war where one of his commanding officers was actor Melvyn Douglas. Rollins assisted Douglas in staging shows at the China-Burma-India theater and developed a friendship with him. After the war, Douglas assisted Rollins in developing the professional contacts he needed to begin working as a producer on Broadway.
Rollins' work as a Broadway producer during the late 1940s and early 1950s proved to be difficult and ultimately unfruitful. He abandoned this pursuit in 1951 when he established a one-man talent agency in Midtown Manhattan. He worked with the then-unknown Harry Belafonte. He later became partners with Charles H. Joffe and they successfully managed the careers of several artists, most of whom were comedians, among them Woody Allen, Dick Cavett, Billy Crystal, Robert Klein, David Letterman, Robin Williams, and the comedy duo Nichols and May. He was approached in the early 1960s by legendary comedian Lenny Bruce concerning management and possible representation. According Rollins' wife, Jane, Rollins declined due to Bruce's personal issues. 
Rollins was also a close friend of jazz pianist Bill Evans, with whom he owned a racehorse named 'Annie Hall'. Joffe focused more on Allen, with Rollins focusing on others. Rollins turned 100 in March 2015 and died on June 18, 2015.
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- Bailey, Peter J. (April 2003). The Reluctant Film Art of Woody Allen. University Press of Kentucky. p. 107. ISBN 978-0-8131-9041-9. Retrieved March 3, 2011.
- McFadden, Robert D. (June 18, 2015). "Jack Rollins Dies at 100; Managed Comedy Greats Like Woody Allen". The New York Times.
- Gerard, Jeremy (June 19, 2015). "Jack Rollins, Producer Who Made Woody Allen & Robin Williams Laugh, Dies At 100". Deadline.com. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
- Coleman, Janet (November 1, 1991). The Compass: the improvisational theatre that revolutionized American comedy. University of Chicago Press. p. 239. ISBN 978-0-226-11345-6. Retrieved March 3, 2011.
- Verchomin, Laurie (2010). The Big Love, Life and Death with Bill Evans. ISBN 978-1-4565-6309-7.
- "Charles H. Joffe, 78; top manager of comedic talent co-produced Woody Allen's films". Los Angeles Times. July 12, 2008. Retrieved July 12, 2008.
- Jack Rollins Dies at 100; Produced Comedy Greats Like Woody Allen
- Stoliar, Steve (2015-04-06). "Jack Rollins, Woody Allen's Legendary Manager-Producer, Celebrates 100th Birthday". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2015-04-07.