LifeNotes: Mega Manager Sandy Gallin Dies

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• April 25, 2017

Sandy Gallin Photo: sandygallin.com

Sandy Gallin, the man who guided Dolly Parton in her transition from country hit maker to multi-media superstar, passed away in Los Angeles on Friday, April 21.
He and Parton were partners in the award-winning film and television production company Sandollar. The two were introduced by Mac Davis, another Gallin country-pop client.
During the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s, Sandy Gallin was one of the most powerful and connected people in the entertainment business. Among the superstars he worked with as either a manager or a talent agent were Barbra Streisand, Cher, Michael Jackson, Neil Diamond, Lily Tomlin, The Pointer Sisters, Petula Clark, Mariah Carey, Patti LaBelle, Donny & Marie Osmond, Olivia Newton-John, Korn, Limp Bizkit, KC & The Sunshine Band, Nicole Kidman, Renee Zellweger, Roseanne Barr and Florence Henderson, among others.
Born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island, he began his career in the Manhattan mailroom of the General Artists Corporation. He was soon promoted to an agent at G.A.C. His early clients included Rick Nelson, Frankie Avalon, Phyllis Diller, Laura Nyro and Joni Mitchell.
He signed and promoted the then-unknown Richard Pryor, Tiny Tim, Joan Rivers and Mama Cass Elliott. He was also part of the G.A.C. team that booked newcomers The Beatles onto “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1964.
G.A.C. moved him to the West Coast in 1968. In the 1970s, he founded his own management company. He signed Whoopi Goldberg, produced her award-winning TV specials and guided her to the 1984 movie The Color Purple.
He signed Parton in 1976, and the two became inseparable. Using his connections, she crossed over to the pop charts with “Here You Come Again” in 1977 and co-starred in 9 To 5 and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas as her first movies in 1980 and 1982.
Gallin and Parton formed Sandollar Productions in 1985. The company’s 1989 documentary, Common Threads: Stories From the AIDS Quilt, won an Oscar. As a result of the film’s theme, Gallin openly acknowledged being gay, becoming one of the earliest Hollywood figures to do so.
Sandollar also produced the movies Sabrina (1995), Father of the Bride (1991), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992, as well as its subsequent hit TV series), Kicking and Screaming (1995) and I.Q. (1994). Gallin and Parton also produced her movies Rhinestone (1984) and Straight Talk (1992), as well as her variety ABC TV series of 1987-88.
The company also produced many TV specials featuring such stars as Andrew Dice Clay, Harvey Fierstein and Neil Diamond.
Sandy Gallin was known for his lavish, star-studded parties and for his sense of style. He began working in real estate in 1998. He bought, restored and re-sold estate properties and became a high-end interior designer.
When he moved out of management, Parton was hurt by his desertion, but the two soon rekindled their deep friendship.
Parton posted on her website: “Sandy, you may be in heaven now, but you will never be gone from me. In the words of my own song, I will always love you.”
Sandy Gallin reportedly died of multiple myeoloma. He was 76 years old.

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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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