Mr. Hartig, who was born and raised in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, was 68 and divided his time between homes in Manhattan and Westport, CT. A Brooklyn College graduate, Mr. Hartig entered the business of talent representation in 1958, starting the Michael Hartig Agency soon after. At the time, he was one of the youngest agents to be franchised, said Paul Hilepo, his partner at the Hartig Hilepo Agency.
Mr. Hartig once shared a story about being "confused as to what to do after college," Hilepo told Playbill On-Line. The story goes that Mr. Hartig took an aptitude test. The results indicated he should go into theatre or psychology.
As an agent, "he did — he did both," Hilepo observed.
His first Broadway placement broke the Black List when he persuaded George Abbott to cast Howard Da Silva in the Broadway musical Fiorello, Hilepo said. It was one of many stories the elder agent would share with his protege.
Mr. Hartig enjoyed a long career working with countless actors, casting directors, producers and directors in all venues of the entertainment industry. Hilepo, who Mr. Hartig partnered at the agency two years ago after teaching him the ropes, said Mr. Hartig was a tireless theatregoer, seeing 4-5 shows a week for business and pleasure. "Yes, he was passionate about theatre, but he was also scoping out talent," Hilepo said, adding that it's no surprise Mr. Hartig's home away from the city was Westport, where Westport Country Playhouse, Seven Angels, The White Barn and other theatres are within reach. "He would consistently shock and amaze me with his stories about how he saw all these legends: Merman, Martin, all of these famous people, all the original productions as a child," Hilepo said. "He used to take the subway in, sometimes skipping school to do it. He was a walking encyclopedia."
The Hartig Hilepo Agency lives on, Hilepo said: "The agency was Michael's life, showbusiness was Michael life. He gave everything he had to it, and was very fulfilled by it."
There are no immediate family survivors. A memorial service will be announced shortly.