Precious Cargo

Refreshingly Bitter And Twisted Observations On Life's Passing Parade.

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Location: Valley Village, California, United States

Monday, May 22, 2006

Hollywood Character Jay Bernstein Dies


Jay Bernstein, 68; manager launched Hollywood stars to fame

By Dennis McLellan, Los Angeles Times | May 6, 2006

LOS ANGELES -- Jay Bernstein, the flamboyant Hollywood personal manager best known as the ''star-maker" who launched Farrah Fawcett and Suzanne Somers to fame in the 1970s, has died. He was 68.

I interviewed Jay Bernstein at his home two or three years ago for research into the life of Nick Adams. Bernstein was cordial and gave me two hours of his time. He was pleased that anyone was interested enough in Nick Adams to want to write a book about him. Adams and Robert Conrad were Bernstein's clients and best frends, though Bernstein and Adams had a falling out after Adams discovered that Bernstein had had an affair with Carol Adams while Nick was in Japan. Nevertheless, Jay remembered Nick fondly.

When I interviewed him, Jay tacitly admitted his career in Hollywood was basically over, although he was trying to launch a TV series about the LA public defender's office. He knew his time had passed. After my sister and I entered his house and sat down, his Hispanic housekeeper Dalmi, who was his friend and confidante, put a video tape into the TV before us which then played a mini-biography of Bernstein's life patched together from stories done by various TV shows in better days.

My sister chuckled and said he was a ham, but I realized that Bernstein introduced himself because he assumed that we were unaware of his reputation.

When we had talked for a while, Bernstein revealed that he was in his sixties and that he was having a young lady come over for a date after we finished. He asked us not to reveal his age to her. His date, Erin, was an aspiring actress who had attended one of Bernstein's seminars. She was indeed young and attractive.

I only met Bernstein that one time, but I liked him. Of course he may have given me his time because his days were no longer occupied by career concerns. I'd like to think he would have spoken to me about his friend Nick even in his heyday.

There's a little irony in the Variety obit, as it's written by Patti Saperstein, the daughter of the late Henry G. Saperstein, who coproduced Nick's Toho science fiction films. It's a small world.

Bernstein's concerns that he was already forgotten were proven right, alas. I only learned of his death after reading about it on Burl Barer's blog.

I feel a little poignant after reading that Jay Bernstein died. We work and strive and worry and obsess about so many things. Then we are gone, forgotten by most, a fading memory to a few.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's great that he was kind to you, but I can assure you he was not a good guy. He once told me that his philosophy was that he needed to break down his clients and then build them back up.

7:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He "hired" my sister, a very intelligent and beautiful young actress and model (She looks/acts like Kelly Rippa),to help him in his office flying her all the way to California from the South. He convinced her to stay in his home while she worked there - although she really wanted her own apartment. She had hopes of learning the ropes of Hollywood and was excited to be able to learn from a big name like Bernstein. Things went well at first. She organized him and they worked hard and became very productive. She attended meetings with him to discuss his new TV series. She took her job seriously and learned to appreciate classic movies and met big names in Hollywood that she will never have a chance to meet again. She was especially awestruck that her idol, Bette Midler, lived close by she loved Bette. She put up with the fact that he didn't drive. He ate raw beef. He didn't trust the post office so he used a courier. He bought her outfits and jewelry from Tiffany's, despite her protests - (Jay, really you don't have to buy me that!). She loved his housekeeper. She answered the phone when Farrah called. She'd see a couple of reporters come and go. She'd listen to him fight with his friends. She met his young daughter. Then one day they were getting ready to go to a party and she became very sick. He told her she needed to put a smile on her face then went bizerk on her - waving a gun - sweating. Luckily, she got out of there (leaving everything he bought her behind) although she was ill with no place to go. She ended up staying with a friend of a friend who took her to the doctor and took care of her. She had a 104 temperature. Bernstein called her about 25 times to apologize but she never returned his calls, just wanted to go home. Then two years later life moves on and she is over the Bernstein experience. She sends him an email which in essence forgives him (she'll never have an experience like that again)...she realized his behavior was a cover-up for his illness. She was so glad she sent the email because he died one week later. They say that everyone you meet has something to teach you. Boy did Bernstein teach my sister some life lessons.

PS She never got paid.

5:10 AM  
Anonymous mary gleeson said...

I knew Jay Bernstein professionally and platonic personally. He was an extremely talented and complex man. He was hardest on himself while pushing others to strive for excellence. He was a dynamic and creative Manager in the entertainment business. Many people depended on him and his professional advice. I learned a lot from him. I know that many young girls who wanted fame and fortune sought him out-and I believe he left a legacy of knowledge for these beautiful ladies and men that he tried to help. I know that there are going to be personal stories of doubt of his character flaws, we all have them. No matter what Jay Bernstein did, he did it in a big way. Someone wrote that Jay did not pay his sister, however, he paid for her to come to L.A. from the South, he gave her an opportunity to be with his Hollywood contacts, and gave her things that one cannot put a price tag on, this I am sure she will never forget-because there is no school that taught what Jay Bernstein taught us, those who knew him well will never forget his philosophy; to go passed no, and not take life too seriously, and to always show up even when you don't feel like being there. Jay was a good father to his little girl whom he loved very much. If Jay Bernstein loved you, he loved you. Yes, he said things he didn't mean to, but he was always quick to say he was 'sorry'. He was so generous-and he loved to give presents to those he felt deserved them. He loved to live and he lived life to the fullest. Someone said he knew that his career had ended? Jay may have said that, but the Jay I knew never gave up. He had a show in development before he died, he gave me a movie to submit for him, he Managed people, he had more people coming to him for advice and forgot things people remember. He never gave up-giving up wasn't Jay Bernstein. I once asked Jay a personal question; "Where you in love with Farrah Fawcett?" He looked deeply into my eyes and he said; "How could I not fall in love with her, I had to fall in love her to be her Manager." I don't think Jay Bernstein would hurt anyone intentionally. Years ago, his house was blown up, luckily he was not at home when this happened. He had a melted telephone that was in the kitchen that was literally disturbing even years later to look at the thing. Jay protected himself from that day forward and the L.A. police department gave him permission to carry that gun. Since Jay was a great hunter he respected the gun and never used it. However, he wanted people to know he had it.
Jay's home was beautiful, five stories overlooking the ocean, and Los Angeles and Hollywood, it was the old Carole Lombard home. I always told him she haunted the place. He treated me and my guests to gourmet meals and lavished us with food and the finest wines and presents and the best times. When I had a very difficult time in my life, Jay had a huge party for me to cheer me up. He was like that. We would walk down Wilshire together and he would stop and come out with a gift that was specifically chosen for me that he knew I would love. If you did something for Jay Bernstein he never forgot it...I think he was too busy giving, he would be surprised when someone did something in turn for him. He was very funny. Once we were at Le Dome a bistro he loved on Sunset Blvd., he told me the eatery was haunted as he motioned me to go over to one side of the room and he stood at one side of the room, all of a sudden I could hear him talking to me as if he were right next to me (and we did not have a drink at lunch). I looked over at him laughing, he was talking through an old pipe on the wall that quickly echoed his voice across the room. He was charming and entertaining. He knew the right things to say and he Managed me he once said to manage him, and that was the truth. I enjoyed his wit and his honesty. There are things he told me when I really screwed up and didn't know what to do, he told me once; "If you don't know what to do, don't do anything." I was working with him on one of his last projects and an Executive from a network kept changing our meeting time-which did not make Jay happy. He said; "I am not going to meet with them." I know Executives change meetings because things come up, but Jay's reaction was very strong, he didn't find this situation professional and he told me not to accept the meeting changes because it was disrepectful. Now that I am an Executive, I think about what Jay said to me, it taught me to respect my time because that is all we have.
I realize that there are some people who were hurt by Jay Bernstein, there are things no one really knows about him. Yes, he was ill the last 5 years of his life and he kept that to himself. Someone wrote here that they were able to tell Jay how they felt about him before he died. I too told Jay I loved him before he died, and I don't think I will miss a better friend than he was to me. Mary

4:56 PM  
Blogger Peter L. Winkler said...

Dear Mary:

Thanks for your recollections of Jay Bernstein.

I'm somewhat surprised that this subject has generated more comments than any other post since I started this blog.

If you wouldn't mind telling me, how did you discover my blog? I'm trying to discover how to generate more traffic here.

Thanks.

Peter

12:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just heard about the news of Jay passing on and it has inspired me to write a little bit about how I am feeling. I, like many was one of the many starlets that Jay romanced. (I still have clothes in my closet he gave me). We shared some fun times together and he lavished me w/ gifts as he loved to do that with the younger women he would court. This was back in 1995, I believe. I almost went on a world trip with Jay but then when I caught wind of his gun and his temper, I reconsidered and then declined the offer. After that we sortof drifted different ways. He did have that sortof Jekyll & Hyde thing going on. Jay was the first of them in Hollywood to woo me. And he was very charismatic. We had some fun times...but always very intense! It's all chalked up as one of lifes experiences. I feel bad that in these last years when he was ill, that I wasn't in touch with him as I was when we had that fleeting affair in the 90's. I would've liked to have a chance to see him and visit with him before he passed on. I met Jay at a Jacuzzi party. He was immediately taken by me and said I reminded him of Marilyn Monroe (whom he said he knew once). I dug up the one picture I have with him. I'm dressed as Snow White as I had a birthday bash in '97 and Jay showed up. I was wearing a beaded gown that evening that he had given me, and I sang a song after performing a Snow White skit called "Oh Daddy". If you would like to see the picture I will post it on my 'myspace' page and /or my website. "www.myspace.com/24128300". May his spirit live on as he watches over us and all the other scandalous things that go on in Hollywood ....unless he deicdes to go create a Galaxy of his own in which I would think he would choose the latter. Rest in Peace Jay. Love.....Venesa Talor

11:55 PM  
Blogger planetbuckle said...

Ha! Jay Bernstein...He waved a gun at me, screamed at me (I explained that I was not available to date and had a boyfriend, once the subject was broached). On another unrelated time, he treated a friend of mine in an almost exact same manner. For their first meeting, at his house, she brought her brother since she didn't know Jay. His outburst over this was in rage and he made threats.

I have no residual ill feelings towards him because I know that anyone who is demonstrating bizarre behaviors, being cruel, controlling, intimidating or angry is really someone who is in some kind of emotional and/or physical pain. God rest his soul.

5:16 PM  

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