Robert L. Lasky, the motion picture attorney who co-founded Agency of the Performing Arts, died of complications from sepsis in New York on Sept. 16. He was 91.
Lasky founded AP in 1962 along with David Baumgarten, Roger Vorce and Harvey Litwin, representing clients including Liberace, Johnny Cash and Harry Belafonte.
APA went on to open offices in Los Angeles, Nashville, Atlanta, Toronto and London and currently represents artist including Gary Oldman, Mary J. Blige, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and Famke Janssen.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, he attended Harvard U., graduating magna cum laude in 1951 and received his law degree from Yale School of Law. He also served as an analyst for the War Department during the Korean War.
Lasky began his legal career at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind & Garrison before opening his own law practice, where he worked with iconic talent including Brigitte Bardot, Josephine Baker, Tony Bennett, Marcello Mastroianni and Belafonte, who once quipped, “Lasky, you are classy from coast to coast!”
He also worked with screenwriter and director Lina Wertmüller on such films as “Seven Beauties,” for which she was the first woman to receive a best director Oscar nomination.
His friends and professional relationships included names in film, art and literature such as Sophia Loren, Les Paul, Philippe Petit and James Jones.
He advised on productions such as “La Cage aux Folles” and the American adaptation “The Birdcage”; the Oscar-winning documentary “Hotel Terminus: The Life and Times of Klaus Barbie” and on the sitcom “Home Improvement.”
Lasky was also a friend and legal advisor to Italian film distributor Adriana Chiesa Di Palma and her husband, cinematographer Carlo Di Palma, whom Lasky worked with on Woody Allen’s “Hannah and Her Sisters” and “Bullets Over Broadway.”
“He was elegant from the inside out,” said Di Palma. “He always had a solution and offered a straightforward answer.”
Outside of the motion picture industry, Lasky also contributed to the founded of ad agency Lois Holland Callaway and worked with Paris Review founders Peter Matthiessen and George Plimpton to help emerging writers secure legal representation.
Lasky continued practicing law into his late 80s. He recently helped facilitate the acquisition of the Les Paul music archives by the Library of Congress.
He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Astrid, and their two children, Alexander and Clarissa. A memorial will be held in spring 2021, pending COVID-19.
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