LOS ANGELES -- Phil Berg, a pioneer talent agent who represented such Hollywood stars as Clark Gable, Judy Garland and Joan Crawford, died Tuesday of heart failure. He was 80.
Berg was considered the originator of the package deal -- a concept which changed the basic structure of Hollywood.
'Phil had a great, great influence in this town, he was a pioneer agent,' said a longtime friend, director George Sidney. 'He was the first man to conceive of the package -- that's where an agent would get a script, put a writer with it, get an actor, get a director -- if you want it you have to take everyone.'
From 1927 until 1947, Berg and his partner Bert Allenberg represented an empire of great movie star including Lucille Ball, Wallace Beery, Walter Brennan, Olivia DeHavilland, Melvyn Douglas, Walter Huston, Buster Keaton, Alan Ladd, Charles Laughton and Edward G. Robinson.
The Berg-Allenberg talent agency also represented directors Frank Capra, Victor Fleming, Vincent Minnelli, Jean Renoir and William Wellman. Writers included Michael Arlen, James Hilton, Dalton Trumbo, and Rogers and Hart.
Berg, born in New York City Feb. 15, 1902, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, and became a millionaire before he was 30.
By 1947, he was wealthy from his investments and chose to leave his agency and concentrate on archaeological expeditions to places like Turkey and Mesopotamia.
In 1969, he arranged to leave his collection of artifacts and art, then valued at $1.5 million, to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, while retaining the collection until his death.
Berg married Joan Hartley Berg after the death of his first wife, the former actress Leila Hyams, whom he married in 1927. He is survived by Joan Hartley Berg.