Ed Hookstratten, a lawyer and agent whose powerful roster of clients made him a force to be reckoned with in the worlds of sports, entertainment and journalism, died Jan. 22 at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 83.
He had congestive heart failure, according to his family.
Known as a kingmaker, Mr. Hookstratten had a client list that included Elvis Presley, Johnny Carson, Tom Brokaw, Marcus Allen, Pat Riley and Vin Scully. He was also general counsel of the Los Angeles Rams, holding tremendous sway over the franchise for several years as well as several other National Football League teams because he represented many top head coaches, including George Allen. Allen coached the Washington Redskins from 1971 to 1977.
Nicknamed “The Hook,” Mr. Hookstratten had a reputation for being a ferocious negotiator who wasn’t shy about raising his voice. For many years, he drove a Rolls-Royce with a vanity plate that read “Hook.” He could usually be found at lunch holding court with other power players in the third booth on the right at the Grill, which he owned a piece of at one time, in Beverly Hills.
Mr. Hookstratten was a hands-on agent and lawyer, and little slipped past his sharp eye. He wouldn’t hesitate to call a TV station to complain about the makeup on one of his clients or hang up on an executive if he didn’t like the offer he was hearing.
“He fought for his clients. When you were dealing with Ed, he could be a formidable adversary,” said former NBC president Fred Silverman, who often found himself sitting across from Mr. Hookstratten at the negotiating table. “He was just a terrific agent and lawyer.”
Brokaw said that when he retained Mr. Hookstratten to handle a contract negotiation, the reaction from one NBC executive was extreme. “He literally clutched his chest and said, ‘You hired The Hook? Oh, my God,’ ” Brokaw said.
Mr. Hookstratten was also something of an old-school Hollywood fixer for his clients, getting many out of potentially embarrassing jams and making sure the media were none the wiser.
“He got speeding tickets and DUIs fixed for a lot of people,” Brokaw said.
Mr. Hookstratten also made sure to know anyone who could be of use to a client down the road. While representing Presley, Mr. Hookstratten once had to persuade a Beverly Hills auto dealership to open in the middle of the night so the King could go car shopping.
Edward Gregory Hookstratten was born June 12, 1930, in Whittier, Calif. He was a star baseball player in high school and received a scholarship to the University of Southern California, where he pitched for legendary coach Rod Dedeaux. Mr. Hookstratten, who remained a prominent USC booster throughout his life, played a key role in raising the funds to build Dedeaux Field.
After graduating from Southwestern School of Law in Los Angeles, Mr. Hookstratten worked for Raoul Magaña, a prominent personal injury attorney.
Mr. Hookstratten got his first taste of show business there when he took care of a traffic ticket for singer Peggy Lee. Soon after, he set up shop as an entertainment lawyer and agent.
Before long, he had a list of star athletes including Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks Bill Munson and Roman Gabriel. He developed a close relationship with then-Rams owner Carroll Rosenbloom and his wife Georgia and had an at-times rocky stint as the team’s general counsel.
Mr. Hookstratten continued to represent other head coaches while working for the Rams, which raised eyebrows around the league as a potential conflict of interest. He often represented multiple on-air stars at the same networks and stations, which gave him many cards to play with management.
Unlike today’s agents who usually toil for giant firms such as Creative Artists Agency and William Morris Endeavor, Mr. Hookstratten was something of a lone wolf, albeit one who once employed seven secretaries.
“I don’t think there will ever be anyone like that again — the one operator who can pick up the phone and get anyone he wants to,” Brokaw said.
Survivors include his wife, Aimee Richelieu; two children from his first marriage to the actress Pat Crowley; two children from his second marriage; a brother; and five grandchildren.