On Thursday, February 21, 2008, my old friend J. Michael Bloom died.
Bloom was my first agent, who I signed with in the Fall of 1980. I worked with him for eleven years, during which time he was one of my greatest friends. Bloom was one of the great, and one of the last, of the old time agents. He had his old New York office near Crouch and Fitzgerald on Madison Avenue, and then moved to Park Avenue South. His LA office was at the Luckman Building at 9200 Sunset, off Doheny. I always remember parking in the alley along that building and racing up to Bloom's office to get a script or some info and racing down to see if I had gotten a ticket. The parking police that worked the Sunset/Doheny area were among the finest in the world back then. Take my word for it.
I have too many memories of Michael to mention here. Beyond his self stylings, like the Kent lll cigarettes and endless flow of Pepsi that he brandishes in his Hirschfeld drawing, Bloom was not only one of the greatest agents, he was a great character and great friend. When I first came into this business, agencies developed talent in a way that is all but unseen today. Bloom, Kimble and Parseghian, Rifkin and David, Harry Abrams, to name a few, brought in young actors to build their careers, knowing that most would then bolt for bigger companies like CAA, ICM and Morris.
Some of the heads of those B-level agencies saw the handwriting, particularly after the 1988 strike. They merged or simply walked away. Bloom stuck it out and, after a time of realignments and difficult business decisions, Bloom had sold most of his company to investors who shelved him and stripped the agency of whatever they could and moved on. I have never seen so precipitous a fall.
Bloom, with his Columbus Avenue apartment, his Outpost Road home, a thriving business, a penchant for Spoleto, the London theatre scene, the ballet and symphony. Bloom was a true artistic junkie. The boy from Lorain, Ohio who craved culture, beautiful clothes, fine decor, elegant restaurants. Then all of it gone, so quickly, and he was essentially out of the business.
He called me Alexi and he taught me a lot about the acting business. Not show business, but acting. He hired agents (Tim, Marilyn, Nevin, Brian, Rob) who always reminded you that working in the theatre was, ultimately, all that mattered. Bloom often spoke of film and TV work as "a means to an end." He taught me that though I might learn to act while in the white hot spot light of movie stardom, it is rare. Better, he said, to have a career, for a lifetime, if one is willing to make the effort required.
Seeing Roberta Maxwell perform at Williamstown with Michael. Seeing Hector Elizondo do View from the Bridge at Stockbridge. Touch of the Poet in London and having dinner with Tim Dalton and Vanessa afterward. Seeing Ian Charleson and Lindsay Duncan do Cat, or Diana Rigg and the late Daniel Massey in Follies. On and on.
The great J. Michael Bloom. Died in Los Angeles, February 21, 2008.