“It’s an end of an era,” said Stewart Talent agent Sam Samuelson of the Sept. 15 closing of the Chicago office of the Geddes Agency, run by Elizabeth Geddes after 44 unbroken years of business.
He and others in the talent community said the departure of Elizabeth Geddes, called by her peers “a classy lady with enormous integrity,” will leave a vacuum in the talent scene. “Hopefully the traditions she set will continue on with our generation of agents,” he said.
“It’s been a great ride,” said Geddes, who is moving to L.A. to work in the West Hollywood office with her sister and partner, Ann Geddes “for the first time in all these years,” she said.
Ann Geddes started the business as a modeling agency in 1967 and Elizabeth joined the agency in 1979. Elizabeth took the reins of the Chicago office, while Ann built the agency in L.A. (Last March, Ann was named SAG’s Agent of the Month.)
The Chicago office has about 100 exclusive adult talent on its roster, while L.A. has nearly 200, including actors like Chelcie Ross, Jack Wallace and Ron Dean who started their careers in Chicago helped by the Geddes sisters.
Since the agency’s business is evenly split between Chicago and L.A., Geddes said she will continue to serve her local talent for theatre, television, film, commercials, voiceover and print.
The move won’t affect the relationship between Geddes and one of her longtime clients, Steppenwolf Theatre, said Eric Daniels, Steppenwolf casting director and a former Geddes agent, “as I will continue to work with 99% of the talent from Geddes.”
Added Daniels, “Elizabeth is my dearest friend whose mentorship of me as an agent changed my life. She is also one of the classiest people in the business with important values. Whatever she wants to do with her life, I’m thrilled for her.”
Geddes is not ready to retire, but she is ready to slow down, she said. The time seemed right to make the move and she wants to spend time with her daughter and granddaughter who live in Los Angeles, to be part of the baby’s life.
Elizabeth Geddes known for loyalty, integrity and values
The Geddes Agency has been located in a crowded and artifacts-filled office in the Royal George Theatre building for most of its business life.
Over the years the agency was known as a place where “only the best of the best get representation” and has exclusively represented Danny Goldring, Amy Morton, Jane Lynch, Ben Snyder, Marilyn Dodds Frank, Ernest Perry, Tim Kazurinsky, Ron Dean, Mike Nussbaum, John and Joan Cusack and Jeremy Piven among other successful actors.
“Her clients had a formidable advocate in Elizabeth,” remarked Lynne Hamilton, the second generation of her family to run Shirley Hamilton Talent, the city’s oldest agency which will celebrate its 50th business in 2012.
“We wish her the best of luck on her new career and lifetime move. We at Shirley Hamilton’s recognize and respect the importance of family ties,” Hamilton said.
Elizabeth’s loyalty and dedication to her clients is legendary in this town,” noted
Said SAG/AFTRA’s Kathy Byrne, director of TV/theatrical contracts: “Elizabeth’s loyalty and dedication to her clients is legendary in this town. In the past decade or so she’s made her agency more of a boutique whereby she could guide and look out for them. You will find that loyalty reciprocated from her talent base.
“I agree with Sam,” said Byrne. “I hope that the second and third generation will learn from her and apply those values to their business. They can’t go wrong doing that.”