Hollywood talent agent Monique James dies at 74

January 25, 2001

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hollywood talent agent Monique James, whose company helped make stars of Robert Redford, Warren Beatty, Sharon Gless and others, has died at age 74.

James died Jan. 18 of cancer in Los Angeles, said her daughter, producer and manager Pam Prince.

Her brother, Michael, was a foreign correspondent for the New York Times and worked at the Imperial Valley Press for 12 years, from November 1965 until April 1977. He was the Press' first Probe writer.

James joined the casting department of CBS in 1948 as a receptionist who couldn't type, and a year later left with her boss to form their own company. Casting Consultants specialized in performers for the fledgling medium television and had clients including Grace Kelly and Leslie Nielsen.

The company became successful so fast that MCA head Lew Wasserman quickly bought it out and hired James and partner Eleanor Kilgallen to work for him, James in Hollywood and Kilgallen in New York.


After MCA took over Universal in 1962, James and Kilgallen were put in charge, on their opposite coasts, of the contract actors' training and management program as vice presidents in charge of new talent.

They presided over the contract actors' system, Hollywood's last such program, until it ended in 1980.

Among those James signed and groomed were Valerie Perrine, David Hartman, David Carradine, Carrie Snodgress, Susan St. James, James Farentino, Katharine Ross, Susan Clark, Harrison Ford, James Brolin, Judd Hirsch, Jan-Michael Vincent, Lindsay Wagner and Jamie Lee Curtis.

James and Kilgallen interviewed hundreds of potential performers each year and hired 15 or so to join Universal's stable of 40 contract players. James read 17 scripts a weekend and scanned dailies of her charges' efforts in order to keep them working.

‘‘The day of discovering a star in a malt shop is gone,'' James once told the Los Angeles Times. ‘‘The day of the manufactured star is past. That's because television has no time to train people. They have to know what they're doing when they step on that set.''

Born in Paris and a graduate of Vassar College, James was the daughter of Edwin L. James, managing editor The New York Times between 1932 and 1951. It was Edwin James who loaned his daughter and Kilgallen $5,000 to start Casting Consultants — though only after first forbidding the enterprise. They repaid him within six months.

James, whose married surname was Prince, is survived by her daughter.

AP-WS-01-25-01 0316EST

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