Thursday, March 11, 2010

Death of a Small Timer -The Story of Hal Guthu -Last of the Good Old School Honest Hollywood Agents

Don`t know if anyone heard of Hal Guthu -one of the last really good honest Hollywood agents for starletts -when I met him -he would send me out for Cheesecake, Glamour Fetish & B-movies. He has a great history & he was awesome. He really cared about us -if we had a problem with someone -so did he. Hal was very protective and a father type figure. He never wanted no harm to come to any of his girls -money was not important enough. He didn`t want to be involved with bad business -only on the up & up.
His death was a Mystery. They made a few of those Murder Mystery TV Shows with his story in which I am in. I even worked with the police to try to solve Hal`s Mysterious Death. I remember being interviewed alot -I never got to see some of the articles -but I was sent this article 10years after Hals Death.
Hal Guthu sure was a character. I would love it if someone good wrote a book or made a movie about him. I was so lucky to meet & work with the last of the Good Old School Hollywood Agents. I sure miss that guy!
oxox Stacy

Please read article: Death of a Small Timer by John H Richardson

Forensic details about Hal's death are explored in "The Bird's Tale",an episode of Court TV's "North Mission Road" program

Hal Guthu responsable for 'The Runaways'?

Models/Actreses Rembember Hal:
I always adored Hal...
I read these thoughts on Hal and the description about the polaroids. He was such a creature of habit - living in a time warp almost. Just a year or so ago I took J. by to see him and to look at his books. At the time I was struck by the fact that every single detail - his office, Max [his bird], how he dressed, the studio, what he wanted to talk about - everything was exactly the same as it had always been. And after that visit, I got several calls from him saying "Hey! I gotta job for ya! Are you interested?" in his usual positive, upbeat style.
I'll miss him...
Danni AsheVB Productions

I am one of Hal's girls...
Hal was the last of the good guys in Hollywood! He was so nice, so trustworthy... that is rare nowadays. He took the model's word as gold. If you had a problem with someone that he sent you to, he would not work with that guy again. His reputation was spotless. He was a gem! I wish I told him how I felt, I wish I could tell him how much he was appreciated and how much I appreciated him. He was loved by so many people.
Stacy Burke Actress/Model

This is such a shock. He was so wonderful.
Simone DevonDevonshire Productions

"Remembering Hal"
Remembering what it was like to barely have enough money to eat every day -- driving through McDonalds or Carl's Jr. Scraping up change abandoned by my family to get a hamburger. I was in desperate need of money. A friend of mine was telling me about an agent, Hal Gathu. An honest man with a heart of gold -- a legend in his own right, and if he likes you -- he'll help you like no other.
I can still feel those emotions today -- young, shy, and scared, I drove around searching for a number I had on a piece of paper. Hmmm, this must be it. No windows, just an address -- 7428 Santa Monica. I knocked on the door and Hal, an older man in great shape with glasses, greets me. I'll never forget -- "Hi Hon!! Oh, this is Max," (chuckling) "he won't hurt you! (A huge bird -- red and blue, never ever left Hal's side) "Really Hal, birds scare me!" "That's what he's trying to do -- intimidate you. Honest, hon -- he won't hurt you -- he loves to draw on polaroids."
Another thing that Hal was great at -- taking polaroids. The directors love to see what the girls look like when they are natural in polaroids. (Did I ever tell you how much I loathe polaroids?) "Come on" (as he guides you to the studio in the back). "Hon -- change into a bathing suit or lingerie and stand over there" -- snap. "Yuck! These are the worst pictures I've ever seen of myself." "No hon, they'll love you -- honestly."
There I was, in a huge photo album -- one among many. One face among thousands of blondes, brunettes, red heads, dark, light, bleach, asian -- everyone seemed to be in Hal's books. But, what would make me different? Why would I stand out? Beautiful girls everywhere, yet with Hal's help and encouragement, I was constantly getting calls day after day and job after job. Working with David Lynch, little parts in movies, lingerie ads, music videos -- on and on and on -- the list is endless.
I'll never forget the phone calls -- "Hi hon, it's Hal -- there's a producer here and he wants to book you." No porn and he was proud of that fact (that would be XXX, for those who don't know) and always watching out for his girls' safety. That was Hal.
This was the beginning of my career -- these are memories that are untouchable, priceless, and gratitude that can't be matched. This is the person I have to thank -- sadly, I never had the chance because Hal's life ended Sunday -- with Max, his beautiful and long time companion... He made dreams come true, built legends -- a simple non-pretentious man. I am left (as many others) with pain, sorrow, and feelings that can't be written about nor described. It's hard to imagine Hal anywhere else, but still sitting behind his desk with Max and his photo albums and all his girls. Yep -- I bet he's in heaven -- writing it all down. Goodbye Hal -- thank you for everything -- I wouldn't be Ashley if I never met you.
Ashley Renee

I met Hal & Carole in the late '60s. Back then it was Carole Hal & Nick, but never mind Nick, he was just passing thru I guess. I was young naive and tired of waitressing. Thank God I went to Hal's agency instead of some other. It was on Beverly Blvd then. I have many fond memories of days spent there. Carole had a Gibbon ape, Tyla? And one day even brought in a red fox, which we all ended up chasing down the middle of Beverly Blvd. Never a dull moment, and never a bad experience. Hal did a wonderful job of weeding out the questionable photographers and only sending us on shoots he knew were safe. I will remember him as one of the most honorable people I have ever met.
Bonnie Smith Former Model

Memories of Hal Guthu Contributed by Producers, Directors & Photographers

Soon after I arrived in Los Angeles 15 years ago to work for Harmony Concepts, Robert Harmon sent me to the CHN Agency. When I entered that nondescript building on Santa Monica Boulevard, I was a very green newcomer who knew that Hal Guthu was something of a legend in our part of the world. Hal greeted me with brisk friendliness, introduced me to Max and pushed a pair of huge, photo-filled binders across the desk. As I turned the pages of his fabled model books, Hal could probably tell I was a bit dazzled! He was a kind and informative guide to the new world I was entering.
Throughout the '80s and into the '90s, I returned many times to look through Hal’s books. New faces appeared, others dropped out, but Hal never seemed to change. He enjoyed life, took pleasure in his work and cared about his girls. And, as I worked with so many ‘Hal models’ over the years, I learned that they cared about him too.
From time to time, I booked the CHN studio for video shoots. Working there was like taking a trip into Hal’s past: he hadaccumulated a wealth of props, lights and furniture over the decades. He also constructed the sets preserved in so many videos and photographs. It was Hal’s fantasyland, populated when the lights went on by the girls who were like family to him.
Time didn’t seem to make much of a dent in Hal. I didn’t visit CHN as often in the late '90s, but when I did see Hal or talk to him on the phone, he was always a hearty and vigorous presence. Yet time does have the last word, no matter how vital its human adversary. None of us can ever know what Hal was thinking on the day he made his final decisions, but there’s no doubt he was an unusually proud and independent humanbeing. If Hal made his choice to cut short the ravages of time, it was the final act that defined him as the man he was.
Eric HolmanFM Concepts

I was encouraged by Eric [Holman] to visit Hal in early 1988. The word was that Hal was the man to go to for models.
My handful of appointments with Hal over the course of the next two years were strictly business, and good business at that. He was always friendly, professional, and worked hard for his models.
He was a good agent. I always walked out with more good model leads than I could ever hope to work with.
I was afraid of his bird.
Michael KeyeBonVue Ent.

I met Hal Guthu in 1977. I needed an agent who could provide models and he was one of two who was highly recommended. I really don't remember who recommended him.
I liked him immediately, as anyone would. He was wonderfully old-fashioned and genuine, and very up-front about the way he wanted to conduct business, and helpful -- a throwback agent in every respect and it was hard not to wonder about his history... what he had seen and heard and done in his decades of agenting, what stars he had known and represented, what stories he could tell. As nice as he was, he was firm and inflexible about certain rules -- call him at very prescribed hours and not at any other time -- and I admired him for that. Above all, he was on your side and non-judgmental.
There was an elderly parrot in his office which occasionally distinguished itself by squawking out a line or two of agentese: "I'll get back to you Mort" or "Bob's greenlighted on his project" or "She was born for the part." I heard Hal eventually gave in and gave the parrot to one of his clients -- an insistent ingenue who had just nailed the lead role in a series thanks entirely to Hal.
I'd speak occasionally to him down thru the years, and he was always upbeat. Friends of mine tried to get him to sell them the agency and he would dance with the idea for awhile, then back off: "I sell this and I've got nowhere to go and nothing to do." The agency was very much his life.
I've heard that his death has caused understandable grief among just about everyone who knew him. Why not? He was a decent and dear man and worthy of inclusion in all of our prayers tonight. Say a prayer for him and, if he can, he'll probably say one for you.
Robert Harmon HCI

I first met Hal back in 1985. Since then I have booked and shot hundreds of models through CHN. These models always spoke of Hal in glowing terms, and it was obvious that he was a father image to so many, including myself. Moreover he was my mentor... and was always a gentleman to everyone. Hal was more than just a grandfather to our industry... he was and will always be an icon to all those who knew and loved him. We all will miss him dearly!
Ken Kirk Napali Video Productions

I only had the pleasure of meeting Hal once, when FM did a shoot at CHN. He was warm, friendly, engaging and entertaining. Even after all his years in the business, he seemed so pleased and excited to have us there. It was like being welcomed into the home of a favorite uncle that you hadn't seen in awhile. It's important for me to make clear to everyone that this man deserves "Legend" status, just for the number of all-time favorite models (far too many to list!) that he introduced to this industry. He will be deeply missed.
Chase Brocco FM Concepts

I am deeply saddened by the news of Hal Guthu's death. There's hardly a month that goes by that I don't remember his professionalism, consideration, and even kindness -- three attributes that were hard to come by.
Bishop and I were able to complete, together and separately, hundreds of photo and video shoots over the years because of Hal's expertise and judgement. He knew all his actors -- male & female -- and knew which ones would be perfect for us, creating an atmosphere that was fun and productive for both model and photographer alike.
There was no ego, prima donna behavior, lateness, or substance abuse at our shoots. Hal could spot the troubled ones and steer us away from that scene. I can attest that Hal was the king, and how often I spoke of him with admiration and appreciation.
Geoffrey MerrickHOM/The Tyler Files/Memoirs

Hal Guthu was a very enthusiastic and supportive kind of guy. We did a couple of shoots at CHN, I remember during our first tour of the studio, he was very proud of the backlighting on his sets, in addition to the large collection of props.
God help any model that failed to shut the back door before going outside to light up a cigarette! It's the only time I ever saw him in cranky-mode.
Tony ElkaShadow Lane

I'm saddened by this news and feel the need to tell you a little bit about my memories of Hal.
Hal's studio was a warehouse-like building tucked snugly into the rows on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood. The main door was somewhat incognito and led into a little front office. There Hal would be sitting behind his little desk with his big bird -- a macaw -- hanging out on his desk. The bird was big enough to be a bit scary, but Hal would welcome and greet you jovially, and you'd sit down to see the books.
Hal had a collection of 3-ring binders containing info on all the actors and models he represented. A lot of the pages were pasted-up polaroids that Hal had shot himself, of people fresh into town who had no portfolios or print photos with which to advertise themselves yet. As you looked at the pages, Hal would tell you a little bit about each person -- what they were like or what their talents were.
Hal was proud of his studio. It mostly consisted of two long rooms with sets at both ends. He was especially proud of the sets he'd put together. He was also really proud of all the props he'd bought over the years. It was almost a shame because he had more props than you could use in a lifetime, and a lot of them were simply piled sky-high, not getting used.
A few special details I remember about Hal:
Hal once told me that years ago he shot a bunch of 3-D color slides of a pretty little brunette, all cheesecake, but then the slides sat around for some years until he tired of holding onto them. He sold them to some other guy, and later he really regretted that decision -- when the world re-discovered Betty Page and those 3-D color pictures wound up released as a comic book and used for other lucrative Betty products!
Hal ran the camera for Ed Wood Jr. during the making of Glen or Glenda. You can see an actor portraying him in Tim Burton's Ed Wood movie. The scene where they're shooting "Glen" looking in a storefront window, then the whole crew grabs the equipment and runs off so they won't get caught for shooting without a permit -- that event occurred on Santa Monica right near Hal's studio, all those years ago.
Even after Hal reached retirement age, he didn't stop running his modeling agency. He kept plugging away and keeping his model books going. I feel sad that he didn't get to enjoy some retirement years -- he certainly had earned it after all this time.
Lorelei Smith Open Mind Media


stargo said...


Tara said...

Hal was my grandmother's brother. Thanks for sharing your thoughts of him and others' stories.

Joe Blevins said...


Thank you so much for writing this article on Hal Guthu. He is a fascinating figure, and his life was incredible.