Ruth Engelhardt

Agent


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her three-and-a-half hour Archive interview, Ruth Engelhardt (1921-2008) vividly describes her over 55-year association with the William Morris Agency. She recalls how she worked her way up from being a secretary to an executive in Business Affairs by attending night school to earn her law degree. She discusses the structure of William Morris, the key figures in its executive suites, and its important television accounts. She talks about the packaging of television series including The Life of Riley, The Danny Thomas Show, and I Spy. She speaks in great detail about the creation of one of the biggest hits of the 1980s, The Cosby Show. Additionally, Engelhardt talks about contract negotiations, the era of the Hollywood Blacklist, and the 1975 formation of CAA by ex-WMA agents. B-roll consists of photos from Engelhardt's career. Karen Herman conducted the interview on October 9, 2003 in Los Angeles, CA.

"I think my career achievement is carrying the torch for women in the business. I know I am respected a lot, and I think I helped pave the way for more women. I don't know, I don't think I have a greatest achievement. I think my greatest achievement is I did really good work." 

Interviewee(s)
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her early life and influences; on moving to Los Angeles; on her early years at the William Morris Agency, and the agency's role in packaging early television shows
On the first time she saw television; on the legal concerns in the early years of television
On packaging the first version of The Life of Riley, starring Jackie Gleason; on how the various departments at William Morris got along and interacted, and how actors regarded television; on packaging I Married Joan, and on learning the business from Ann Rosenthal

Chapter 2

On her mentors and on attending law school while working at William Morris; on packaging The Danny Thomas Show; on the role of the advertiser in the early days of packaging television shows, and on controversy over The Dick Van Dyke Show and The New Dick Van Dyke Show
On the early structure of the William Morris Agency, and what she liked about the company; on the early competitors of the William Morris Agency, and on working with company head Abe Lastfogel; on the William Morris Agency mailroom, and on her mentor, Samuel Sacks

Chapter 3

On the various offices of William Morris working together, and on the focus on the West Coast operation; on the shift in television from sponsors to networks; on Mary Tyler Moore wanting a raise on The Dick Van Dyke Show, and working with Larry Hagman on Dallas
On actors walking out of shows in order to get raises, and on the issue of piracy of movies and television; on the Hollywood Blacklist; on the Quiz Show Scandals

Chapter 4

On the Quiz Show Scandals, and how they impacted the sponsors; on William Morris' relationship with ABC, and various other studios and networks; on packaging The Mod Squad produced by Aaron Spelling and Danny Thomas
On her sister being an agent at William Morris, and on how she was treated as a woman in the industry; on working on the Writers Guild of America's live agreement of 1958; on packaging The Andy Griffith Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show, and That Girl
On packaging Gomer Pyle - USMC, Mayberry R.F.D. and The Bill Dana Show; on packaging Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In

Chapter 5

On the creation and packaging of The Loretta Young Show; on the continued popularity of The Dick Van Dyke Show, and on working with Carl Reiner
On packaging I Spy for Sheldon Leonard; on the locations of I Spy and on doing business deals with Danny Thomas and Sheldon Leonard; on becoming a vice president at William Morris, and later becoming an agent

Chapter 6

On the formation of CAA, and the comings and goings at William Morris Agency; on being head of business affairs for television at William Morris
On packaging Murphy Brown, My Sister Sam, and other '80s series; on syndicating The People's Court; on her involvement with The Cosby Show
On what it takes to package a show

Chapter 7

On the art of negotiation; on her then-current projects; on advice to an aspiring agent
On various people she's worked with in her career, including Marilyn Monroe
On various people she's worked with in her career, including Bernie Brillstein, Barry Diller, Lou Weiss, Larry Auerbach, George Schlatter, and Berle Adams

Chapter 8

On various people she worked with in her career, including Abe Lastfogel; on the legacy of the William Morris Agency
On the importance of continuing to work; on career achievements and regrets; on how she'd like to be remembered
On b-roll pictures from her career- with Mayor Tom Bradley; with President Gerald R. Ford; at the 50th Anniversary of the USO
Shows

Andy Griffith Show, The

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Ruth Engelhardt on packaging The Andy Griffith Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show, and That Girl

Bill Dana Show, The

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Ruth Engelhardt on packaging Gomer Pyle - USMC, Mayberry R.F.D. and The Bill Dana Show

Cosby Show, The

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Ruth Engelhardt on her involvement with The Cosby Show

Dallas

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Ruth Engelhardt on working with Larry Hagman on Dallas

Danny Thomas Show, The aka Make Room for Daddy

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Ruth Engelhardt on packaging The Danny Thomas Show

Dick Van Dyke Show, The

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Ruth Engelhardt on the role of the advertiser in the early days of packaging television shows, and on controversy over The Dick Van Dyke Show and The New Dick Van Dyke Show
Ruth Engelhardt on Mary Tyler Moore wanting a raise on The Dick Van Dyke Show
Ruth Engelhardt on packaging The Andy Griffith Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show, and That Girl
Ruth Engelhardt on the continued popularity of The Dick Van Dyke Show, and on working with Carl Reiner

Four Star Playhouse

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Ruth Engelhardt on the packaging of Four Star Playhouse

Gomer Pyle - USMC

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Ruth Engelhardt on packaging Gomer Pyle - USMC, Mayberry R.F.D. and The Bill Dana Show

I Married Joan

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Ruth Engelhardt on packaging I Married Joan, and on learning the business from Ann Rosenthal

I Spy

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Ruth Engelhardt on packaging I Spy for Sheldon Leonard
Ruth Engelhardt on the locations of I Spy and on doing business deals with Danny Thomas and Sheldon Leonard

Life of Riley, The

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Ruth Engelhardt on packaging the first version of The Life of Riley, starring Jackie Gleason

Loretta Young Show, The

View Show Page
Ruth Engelhardt on the creation and packaging of The Loretta Young Show

Mayberry R.F.D.

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Ruth Engelhardt on packaging Gomer Pyle - USMC, Mayberry R.F.D. and The Bill Dana Show

Mod Squad, The

View Show Page
Ruth Engelhardt on packaging The Mod Squad produced by Aaron Spelling and Danny Thomas

Murphy Brown

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Ruth Engelhardt on packaging Murphy Brown, My Sister Sam, and other '80s series

My Sister Sam

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Ruth Engelhardt on packaging Murphy Brown and My Sister Sam, and other '80s series

New Dick Van Dyke Show, The

View Show Page
Ruth Engelhardt on the role of the advertiser in the early days of packaging television shows, and on controversy over The Dick Van Dyke Show and The New Dick Van Dyke Show

People's Court, The

View Show Page
Ruth Engelhardt on syndicating The People's Court

Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In

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Ruth Engelhardt on packaging Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In

That Girl

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Ruth Engelhardt on packaging The Andy Griffith Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show, and That Girl
Topics

Advice

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Ruth Engelhardt on advice to an aspiring agent

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Ruth Engelhardt on packaging I Married Joan, and on learning the business from Ann Rosenthal
Ruth Engelhardt on her mentors and on attending law school while at William Morris

Diversity in Television

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Ruth Engelhardt on her sister being an agent at William Morris, and on how she was treated as a woman in the industry

Historic Events and Social Change

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Ruth Engelhardt on her sister being an agent at William Morris, and on how she was treated as a woman in the industry

Hollywood Blacklist

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Ruth Engelhardt on the Hollywood Blacklist

Industry Crossroads

View Topic
Ruth Engelhardt on the Hollywood Blacklist
Ruth Engelhardt on the Quiz Show Scandals
Ruth Engelhardt on the Quiz Show Scandals, and how they impacted the sponsors

Pivotal Career Moments

View Topic
Ruth Engelhardt on packaging I Married Joan, and on learning the business from Ann Rosenthal
Ruth Engelhardt on her mentors and on attending law school while at William Morris

Quiz Show Scandals

View Topic
Ruth Engelhardt on the Quiz Show Scandals
Ruth Engelhardt on the Quiz Show Scandals, and how they impacted the sponsors

Television Industry

View Topic
Ruth Engelhardt on how the various departments at William Morris got along and interacted, and how actors regarded television
Ruth Engelhardt on her mentors and on attending law school while at William Morris
Ruth Engelhardt on the role of the advertiser in the early days of packaging television shows, and on controversy over The Dick Van Dyke Show and The New Dick Van Dyke Show
Ruth Engelhardt on the early structure of the William Morris Agency, and what she liked about the company
Ruth Engelhardt on the early competitors of the William Morris Agency, and on working with company head Abe Lastfogel
Ruth Engelhardt on the William Morris Agency mailroom, and on her mentor, Samuel Sacks
Ruth Engelhardt on the various offices of William Morris working together, and on the focus on the West Coast operation
Ruth Engelhardt on the shift in television from sponsors to networks
Ruth Engelhardt on actors walking out of shows in order to get raises, and on the issue of piracy of movies and television
Ruth Engelhardt on the Hollywood Blacklist
Ruth Engelhardt on the Quiz Show Scandals
Ruth Engelhardt on the Quiz Show Scandals, and how they impacted the sponsors
Ruth Engelhardt on William Morris' relationship with ABC, and various other studios and networks
Ruth Engelhardt on working on the Writers Guild of America's live agreement of 1958
Ruth Engelhardt on becoming a vice president at William Morris, and later becoming an agent
Ruth Engelhardt on the formation of CAA, and the comings and goings at William Morris Agency
Ruth Engelhardt on being head of business affairs for television at William Morris
Ruth Engelhardt on advice to an aspiring agent
Ruth Engelhardt on the legacy of the William Morris Agency

Women

View Topic
Ruth Engelhardt on her sister being an agent at William Morris, and on how she was treated as a woman in the industry
Professions

Agent

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Ruth Engelhardt on the art of negotiation
Ruth Engelhardt on advice to an aspiring agent

Attorney

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Ruth Engelhardt on what it takes to package a show

Representatives

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Ruth Engelhardt on what it takes to package a show
Ruth Engelhardt on the art of negotiation
Ruth Engelhardt on advice to an aspiring agent
Genres

Adventure/Espionage Series

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Ruth Engelhardt on packaging I Spy for Sheldon Leonard

Classic Anthology Series

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Ruth Engelhardt on the creation and packaging of The Loretta Young Show
Ruth Engelhardt on the packaging of Four Star Playhouse

Comedy Series

View Genre
Ruth Engelhardt on packaging the first version of The Life of Riley, starring Jackie Gleason
Ruth Engelhardt on packaging I Married Joan, and on learning the business from Ann Rosenthal
Ruth Engelhardt on packaging The Danny Thomas Show
Ruth Engelhardt on the role of the advertiser in the early days of packaging television shows, and on controversy over The Dick Van Dyke Show and The New Dick Van Dyke Show
Ruth Engelhardt on packaging The Andy Griffith Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show, and That Girl
Ruth Engelhardt on packaging Gomer Pyle - USMC, Mayberry R.F.D. and The Bill Dana Show
Ruth Engelhardt on the continued popularity of The Dick Van Dyke Show, and on working with Carl Reiner
Ruth Engelhardt on packaging Murphy Brown, My Sister Sam, and other '80s series
Ruth Engelhardt on her involvement with The Cosby Show

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

View Genre
Ruth Engelhardt on packaging The Mod Squad produced by Aaron Spelling and Danny Thomas

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

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Ruth Engelhardt on packaging Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In

Service Shows

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Ruth Engelhardt on syndicating The People's Court
People

Berle Adams

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Ruth Engelhardt on various people she's worked with in her career: Berle Adams

Larry Auerbach

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Ruth Engelhardt on various people she's worked with in her career: Larry Auerbach

Bernie Brillstein

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Ruth Engelhardt on various people she's worked with in her career: Bernie Brillstein

Barry Diller

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Ruth Engelhardt on various people she's worked with in her career: Barry Diller

Dick Van Dyke

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Ruth Engelhardt on the continued popularity of The Dick Van Dyke Show, and on working with Carl Reiner

Larry Hagman

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Ruth Engelhardt on working with Larry Hagman on Dallas

Abe Lastfogel

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Ruth Engelhardt on the early competitors of the William Morris Agency, and on working with company head Abe Lastfogel
Ruth Engelhardt on various people she worked with in her career: Abe Lastfogel

Sheldon Leonard

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Ruth Engelhardt on packaging I Spy for Sheldon Leonard and Danny Thomas

Marilyn Monroe

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Ruth Engelhardt on various people she's worked with in her career: Marilyn Monroe

Mary Tyler Moore

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Ruth Engelhardt on Mary Tyler Moore wanting a raise on The Dick Van Dyke Show

Carl Reiner

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Ruth Engelhardt on the continued popularity of The Dick Van Dyke Show, and on working with Carl Reiner

George Schlatter

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Ruth Engelhardt on various people she's worked with in her career: George Schlatter

Danny Thomas

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Ruth Engelhardt on packaging I Spy for Sheldon Leonard and Danny Thomas

Lou Weiss

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Ruth Engelhardt on various people she's worked with in her career: Lou Weiss

Loretta Young

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Ruth Engelhardt on the creation and packaging of The Loretta Young Show

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