Michael “Mickey” Grossman, a partner in Grossman & Jack Talent, was universally regarded as one of the most respected agents in the business, by the actors he represented and loved and by the clients he served in everyone’s best interest.
Mr. Grossman died Monday, on his 58th birthday, after a yearlong battle with pancreatic cancer, in his home.
A memorial service is planned for the evening of Monday, June 13, with a time and place to be announced.
While Mr. Grossman been Linda Jack’s partner for five years, following the death of her husband and partner, “We had worked together for 25 years, from the beginning of Linda Jack Talent,” she says.
“We were very close and had a very long, trusting relationship. When my husband died, I was confident that Mickey was the best partner I could’ve asked for.”
Mickey Grossman was a friend and a mentor to countless Chicago actors, says Eileen Willenborg, SAG/AFTRA senior advisor. He worked tirelessly to represent his clients to make sure that they received all they had coming to them under their union contracts.
“Mickey was smart – street smart and book smart. He came to meetings fully prepared with issues to discuss and questions to ask,” she adds.
“He recognized the difference between idealism and real world practicality, but he always strove to make sure that actors’ interests were protected. Besides all of this, he was a lot of fun, too.”
Came to Chicago from Florida to work for Amelia Lorence
Mr. Grossman was a native of Peekskill, New York and and moved with his family as a youngster to Florida, where he attended Florida State and never lost his love for Floridian sports teams. Prior to Florida State, he had earned a degree in microbiology from the University of Pennsylvania.
He and his wife, Faith, whom he met in Florida, moved to Chicago when Mr. Grossman was offered a job with the late talent agent Emilia Lorence, his aunt by marriage.
“He was only supposed to stay there until he found something in his science field, but he liked working with actors and stayed,” recalls actor Patrick Clear, a friend and client dating back to the Lorence days.
When the Lorence agency was dissolved in 1992, Mr. Grossman joined Linda Jack’s agency as a talent agent. While he was in charge of the agency’s on-camera department, he never failed to help actors in other areas.
Says Jack, “Mickey was that kind of person who cared for everyone on the staff. When I was away from the office, I knew everyone in the office was in good hands.”
His passion for the business and his actors, his honesty and integrity was legendary among the talent community. “Mickey was one of the most respected, loving and professional agents I’ve worked with,” says casting director David O’Connor, whose sentiments are widely echoed.
“He lived by his word. He was a good person and an amazing agent, who cared and fought for what he felt was right, and he was smart enough to know when he was pushing the limited. He loved what he did and always had a passion for it,” states O’Connor.
Actor Randy Steinmeier, whose relationship with his friend and agent spanned three decades, notes that Mr. Grossman was known for looking out for the best interests of his actors. “He was a strong negotiator and had your back at all times.”
Another good friend of many years, actor Brian Boland says he felt special to have been close to Mr. Grossman. “I got the sense that a lot of people felt the same way. He had a presence, gentle but with gravitas, without being a jerk.”
More often than not, their conversations veered into sports. “Mickey was a big Florida State guy and loved the Dolphins. We were in the same fantasy football league, so we had a lot to talk about, a respite from the world of business.”
Adds Boland: “People who knew him will like this. He was the only person I knew whose desk was messier than mine, like an antiquarian bookstore, but he knew where everything was.
A reaction to a cancer treatment was a setback
About a year ago, Mr. Grossman was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and remained confident about surviving it. “He was a very positive person and that gave people a lot of confidence, too,” says Boland.
However, during a routine MRI, “He had a terrible reaction to whatever was in the dye used for the scan. That knocked him in the hospital for weeks and he was never strong enough after that to battle the cancer itself.”
Mr. Grossman rarely missed a talent-related event, an opening night or showcase, where he was a familiar and welcome guest.
“That’s what I’m going to miss the most, not seeing him at function,” says agent Paula Muzik of Innovative Artists. “He was such an integral part of the community.”
AFTRA and SAG will miss him, adds Willenborg. “As a union staff person for the past 17 years, I always thought of Mickey as our partner in promoting actors and finding ways for them to get to practice their craft in Chicago.”
Mr. Grossman is survived by his wife, two brothers and beloved nieces and nephews. Burial services will take place in Florida.