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“No scientific discovery is named after its discoverer”*…

 

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Via Lapham’s Quarterly, “Eponymous laws: Legal Nomenclature.”

* “Stigler’s Law”  Statistician Stephen Stigler (who attributes the law to sociologist Robert Merton)

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As we give credit where credit is due, we might send expensive birthday greetings to Irving Paul “Swifty” Lazar; he was born on his date in 1907.  A bankruptcy lawyer turned talent agent, he represented Humphrey Bogart (who gave Lazar his nickname), Lauren Bacall, Truman Capote, Cher, Joan Collins, Noël Coward, Ira Gershwin, Cary Grant, Moss Hart, Ernest Hemingway, Gene Kelly, Madonna, Walter Matthau, Larry McMurtry, Vladimir Nabokov, Clifford Odets, Cole Porter, William Saroyan, Irwin Shaw, Richard Nixon (Lazar negotiated the interview with David Frost), and Tennessee Williams (among many others).  Lazar’s power grew to such an extent that he could negotiate a deal for someone who wasn’tt even his client, then collect a fee from that person’s agent.

In a 1993 profile of Lazar, Michael Korda recalled his first glimpse of the self-dubbed “Prince of Pitch”:

The person in question was standing on the other side of the pool, an incongruous, diminutive figure among all the half-naked, oiled, and bronzed bodies. He was totally bald, and his face–what could be seen of it below huge, glittering gold-rimmed Ray-Ban aviator sunglasses–was tanned, like his pate, to the color of a well-cared-for crocodile handbag. He was wearing tiny white shoes, a blue blazer with gold buttons, and white trousers pressed so perfectly, despite the heat, that he looked like a shiny, expensive beach toy that had just been unpacked by some lucky child. He was shouting into a telephone…

Asked in 1975 to summarize his philosophy, Lazar replied with what might be called “Lazar’s Law”: “In a deal, you give and take. You compromise. Then you grab the cash and catch the next train out of town.”

Swifty Lazar, with Diana Ross

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Written by LW

March 28, 2018 at 1:01 am

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