The Steven S. Cohen Humanitarian Award has been established to honor individuals who effect change within their communities and demonstrate a commitment to the betterment of humankind.
Norman Brokaw, Chairman of the William Morris Agency and long-time talent agent, is distinguished by a career that spans the evolutions of entertainment. Behind his legendary success is an unshakeable optimism that compels him to look beyond limits and pursue infinite opportunity for his clients and his company.
As an agent, Brokaw defines diversity and dynamism. The list of his past and present clients – including Marilyn Monroe, Loretta Young, Clint Eastwood, Danny Thomas, Andy Griffith, Mary Hart, President Gerald R. Ford, Mrs. Betty Ford, Donald Regan, Dr. Armand Hammer, General Alexander Haig, Dr. C. Everett Koop, Caspar Weinberger, Tony Orlando, Priscilla Presley, Tony Randall, Donna Summer, Hank Aaron, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Kim Novak, Juliette Lewis, Marcia Clark, Chris Darden, Brooke Shields, Malcolm Jamal Warner, General Claudia Kennedy, Senator James Jeffords, Lt. Shane Osborn and Bill Cosby – is so varied it reads like a catalogue of the trends and leaders of twentieth century cultural, social and political history. Brokaw’s philosophy of talent – that it can be found in every area of human public pursuit – has changed the very nature of the agenting business.
As Chairman, Brokaw carries this tradition of service and sagacity to the newest generation of young and creative agents as the William Morris Agency prepares to nurture the talents of the next century. As an industry leader, he joins the ranks of those most remarkable men who shaped the image of the modern agent; they include: Abe Lastfogel, Jules Stein, Lew Wasserman, Charles Feldman and Myron Selznick.
While Brokaw is best known for helping American talents realize their dreams, his own story is a Hollywood fairy tale come true – he began his career in the mailroom at the William Morris Agency and rose through the ranks to head the world’s largest agency from the chairman’s office.
Brokaw began working for the William Morris Agency in 1943, the very first trainee in the legendary mailroom that later became the launching ground for myriad stellar entertainment agents and executives. He was fifteen then, newly arrived in Los Angeles from New York, and his knowledge of the entertainment business consisted primarily of the savvy it takes to return neighborhood milk bottles for the spare change needed for the trolley to Broadway.
“There are four chambers in the human heart. In my heart, there are really three. They are the most important elements of my life – my family, the William Morris Agency, and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Therefore, I will always treasure receiving this Steven S. Cohen Humanitarian Award in acknowledgement of my three decades at Cedars-Sinai.”
Despite his youth, Brokaw’s affirmative attitude – an optimism and belief in opportunity that continues to define his management style today – helped him parlay a love for entertainment into a lifelong career.
Brokaw rapidly ascended and before the age of 18 had become the agency’s first “Junior” agent, working with Ben Holzman, who represented Al Jolson and Eddie Cantor.
Having experienced nearly every area of entertainment agenting – and having pioneered others – Brokaw was elected President and Chief Executive Officer of the William Morris Agency in February 1989. In February 1991, he was elected Chairman and CEO. In addition to the artistry of his clients, he now helps to guide the talents of the William Morris Agency staff. As the young agents whose innovations will bring emerging talent to new stages ascend, Brokaw contributes both a deep sense of tradition and the forward thinking that brought him success as a young agent.
Brokaw is married to Marguerite Longley and is the father of six children. He resides in Beverly Hills and makes monthly trips to the New York offices of William Morris. A committed philanthropist, Brokaw serves on the Board of Directors of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and St. Judes California Foundation. He is President and founder of the Betty Ford Cancer Center. He is a longstanding member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.