Irwin with Irving Lazar, his agent, in Evian, 1963.
"Swifty" never learned to read, Irwin used to say, except for the numbers. Jokingly, he described him as "an over dressed beach toy from Abercombie & Fitch." The long-distance and scratchy (back in the 50's and 60's) phone conversations -- always held at impossible hours -- betwen Klosters and Beverly Hills, were epic. Irwin was not adverse to hanging up. " Schlock-merchant!"
When Nixon was forced to resign the presidency after Watergate, Lazar called me. "Hey kid, you hear the news?"
"Yes, Irving, I heard." I was a reporter on THE WASHINGTON POST
"Well, waddya think?
Lauren Bacall had just called, so I quote her: "Betty says everybody deserves an agent."
Lazar plowed right through that one. "Damn right! You gonna write about it or you gonna let that Sally Quinn do a hachet job on me?"
"I'll write you up, Irving," I said, wonmdering how I was going to tell Ben Bradlee.
"Atta boy! Now, Adam, you read books. What's the one with the whale and the Hebe... I got Zanuck who wants to do a remake."
"You mean Moby Dick?"
"Yeah, that's the one."
"Irving," I said, "its not about a hebe... it's a whale and Captain Ahab."
Michael Korda's 1993 New Yorker piece pretty much covers what can be told about Lazar in polite company.