Mort Janklow, pioneering literary ‘superagent,’ dead at 91

Mort Janklow, a literary “superagent” who revolutionized book publishing and whose clients included Jackie Collins, Sidney Sheldon, Danielle Steele and Ted Turner, died Wednesday. He was 91.

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Janklow died of heart failure at his home in Water Mill, New York, publicist Paul Bogaards told The New York Times.

Janklow began his career as a literary agent in 1972 when his friend, columnist William Safire, asked him to handle a book he was writing about President Richard Nixon, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Janklow’s agency also represented presidents Nixon, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II, the Times reported. The pope’s collection of essays, “Crossing the Threshold of Hope,” was published worldwide in 1994.

“Mort was a beacon of positivity and hope in an uncertain world,” his business partner, Lynn Nesbit, said in a statement. “He radiated optimism and his clients, family, and friends were always leaning on and learning from him as a result. He was a bright light in the publishing world, devoted to his writers and passionate about our business. We will all miss him.”

Janklow was known as “the writer’s advocate,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“We took the publisher out of the captain’s seat and put the author in it,” he once said. “The publisher is replaceable; the author is not.”

After founding his own agency in 1977, Janklow by the 1980s was securing multimillion-dollar contracts for writers in his stable, the Times reported.

His client list also included John Glenn, Al Gore, Judith Krantz, John Erhlichman, David McCullough, Michael Moore, Pat Riley, Carl Sagan, Robert Wagner and Barbara Walters, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“Mort brought publishing people into the space age,” Simon & Schuster executive Joni Evans told New York magazine in 1987.

Janklow was born in Queens, New York, on May 30, 1930, the Times reported. He graduated from Syracuse University in 1950 with a degree in political science and earned a law degree from Columbia University three years later.