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Tom Jennings, Former Casting Director and Talent Agent, Dies at 81

Jennings’ clients included Julian Fellowes, Burl Ives and Lee Van Cleef

Tom Jennings, a retired Hollywood talent agent and casting director, was killed in a household fire on Bainbridge Island in Washington State on April 18, his family announced Tuesday. He was 81.

Jennings’ notable clients during his long career included Julian Fellowes, Burl Ives, Lee Van Cleef and Gene Simmons.

Along with partner Walter Beakel, he founded the boutique talent agency Beakel and Jennings in 1976.

Born in Evanston, Illinois in 1937, Jennings grew up in Santa Barbara, California, and later attended Hanover College in Indiana before serving in the Marine corps. He began his career in Hollywood in the late 1950s as an agency assistant to Bing Crosby at Artists Agency Corporation, later moving on to General Artists where he assisted Bill Sargent with the cult music series “The Teenage Music International.”

Following his departure from General Artists in the early ’60s, Jennings became a casting director, starting at Cottage Industries and later at MCA-Universal and Warner Bros. Television. Among the shows he cast were “Kung Fu,” “The Patty Duke Show,” “Adam 12,” “It Takes A Thief,” and “Run For Your Life.”

He returned to working at talent agencies in 1974, with stints at The Writers and Artists Agency and Progressive Artists before partnering with Walter Beakel to form boutique talent agency Beakel and Jennings in 1976.

During his career, Jennings also represented stars such as David Carradine, Cheryl Ladd, James Best, Robert Woods, Marion Ross, Dick Butkus, Bubba Smith, Michael and Maureen Reagan, Cesar Romero, Buddy Hackett, Foster Brooks, Henny Youngman and John Densmore.

Jennings met his wife, Jill Boyer, in 1964 and the couple had four children. They divorced in 1992 but later reconciled and remarried in 2014.

He is survived by Jill, his sons Bryan and John, daughter Julia and their families, and his grandchildren.

Following his retirement from the entertainment industry, Jennings and his wife devoted their time to caring for their son, Hugo, who had epilepsy and died from the disorder in 1999. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to The Neurological Surgery Program at The University of Washington in the name of Hugo Strike Jennings.