Mary Goldberg, whose formidable casting career ranged from New York theater to TV series such as Rhoda and Phyllis, and feature film including Milos Forman’s Oscar-winning Amadeus and Ragtime among many others, has died. Goldberg died September 7 after a short battle with lung cancer at her home in Ojai, California. She was 72.
Goldberg’s decades-long entertainment industry career began in the 1970s in the New York theater community, first as an assistant to the New York Shakespeare Festival’s Public Theater’s associate producer Bernard Gersten. But it soon became apparent she had an eye for acting talent. In 1973, she became the Shakespeare Festival’s Head of Casting for both the Public Theater in downtown NYC and the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. There, she assembled the casts of such plays as Two Gentlemen of Verona, starring Raul Julia, King Lear starring James Earl Jones, and Much Ado About Nothing starring Sam Waterston and Kathleen Widdoes.
From there, she went on to become casting director for the Lincoln Center Repertory Company, managed by the New York Shakespeare Festival under Joseph Papp. Among the plays she cast at Lincoln Center were David Rabe’s In The Boom Boom Room starring Madeline Kahn and Charles Durning, The Tempest with Sam Waterston and Carol Kane, Troilus And Cressida and Macbeth, both with Christopher Walken, and the groundbreaking prison drama Short Eyes by Miguel Piñero.
Goldberg moved to the West Coast in 1976, where she spent time in Los Angeles at Mary Tyler Moore and Grant Tinker’s production company MTM Enterprises, casting the popular series Rhoda starring Valerie Harper and Phyllis starring Cloris Leachman. Her later television work included the pilot episodes of Fame (1982) and My So Called Life (1994).
Moving on to feature films in the late 1970s, Goldberg put together the casts of Mel Brooks’ 1976 comedy Silent Movie, Philip Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) and Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979). By the 1980s, the screen credit “Casting by Mary Goldberg” was seen on some of the most high-profile films of the decade, including Milos Forman’s Ragtime and Amadeus, winner of 9 Academy Awards including Best Picture, as well as Mike Nichols’ Silkwood (1983). That same year, Goldberg changed her career direction, moving to talent representation at ICM (International Creative Management). After a stint as Vice-President of Talent at United Artists in 1986, she worked as a talent agent at the William Morris Agency prior to opening her own talent management company, Mary Goldberg Management, which was in operation until her death.
In 1985, Goldberg was presented with the Casting Society of America’s award for Outstanding Feature Film Casting at the very first Artios Awards ceremony for Amadeus.
Goldberg spent the last 17 years in Ojai where she added careers as a clothing and lifestyle retailer with Two Sisters, and restaurateur at Treasure Beach. She is survived by her two daughters Elizabeth and Gabriella, and niece Nancy Lefkowitz.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Anno’s Africa http://www.annosafrica.org.uk or to Planned Parenthood. Memorials are being planned.
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