Don't Call Me Swifty!



Michael Grade introduces a portrait of the legendary American Uber-Agent Irving "Swifty" Lazar, who represented superstar actors, composers, musicians and authors. Variously described as a brilliant wheeler-dealer, a lone-wolf dynamo and a manic egotist who dubbed himself the "Prince of Pitch," over the course of seven decades Swifty Lazar boasted the widest clientele in the Entertainment industry: everyone from Noël Coward to Cher and was universally regarded as part of showbiz royalty, but he absolutely detested the nickname “Swifty ?!
After putting together three major deals for his client Humphrey Bogart in a single day in the 1950s, he was dubbed "Swifty" by Bogart, a nickname he always disliked.
He was short, bald and impeccably dressed in hand-tailored clothes and shoes with enormous black-framed glasses. He was a compulsive “Germophobe ? and has been described as self-possessed and arrogant with a look of the cartoon character Mr Magoo about him. But although barely more than five feet tall, in the world of show business Swifty Lazar towered over everybody and the power he wielded was legendary.
Throughout his long and hugely successful career, Swifty Lazar represented the cream of Hollywood movie, musical and literary talent including Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Truman Capote, Cher, Joan Collins, Noël Coward, Ira Gershwin, Cary Grant, Alan Jay Lerner, Frederick Loewe, Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein, Moss Hart, Ernest Hemingway, Gene Kelly, Madonna, Walter Matthau, Vladimir Nabokov, Clifford Odets, Tennessee Williams and American President Richard M. Nixon. During the Big Band Era, Swifty represented some of America’s top Swing bandleaders including Tommy Dorsey, Gene Krupa, Harry James and Count Basie. When Moss Hart asked him what he’d like for Christmas, Lazar replied, “Cole Porter ? And he got his wish! It was something of a present for Cole too, who described his new agent as having the qualities of an evangelist Baptist preacher.
Swifty often represented both a buyer and a seller and described his approach to business in these terms: "I frequently sell people I don't represent. Every good writer has two agents, their own and Lazar." "Of course I'm a salesman…That's the whole point of it. I love it." "In a deal, you give and take. You compromise. Then you grab the cash and catch the next train out of town."
Swifty loved wild parties and his Oscar Night gatherings in Hollywood were the hottest ticket in town.
He absolutely hated his nickname “Swifty ? but that didn’t stop him from using it in the title of his memoirs, “Swifty: My Life And Good Times ?, co-written with Annette Tapert. Why? Because he knew it would sell! And that’s the key to Irving ‘Swifty’Lazar: his almost unerring ability to judge the market!

Michael Grade introduces a portrait of the American Uber-Agent Irving 'Swifty' Lazar.