Morton L. Janklow, the storied New York literary agent who negotiated multimillion-dollar deals with publishers for best-selling authors, ghostwritten celebrities, several presidents, and a pope, and who influenced international book lists and the reading habits of millions for decades, is reported died on Wednesday at his home in Water Mill, N.Y.
He was 91 years old when he died. According to Paul Bogaards, president of Bogaards Public Relations, which works with Mr. Janklow’s company, Janklow & Nesbit Associates, the cause was heart failure. Mr. Janklow was arguably the most powerful independent literary agent in America. His agency represented commercial writers such as Barbara Taylor Bradford, Sidney Sheldon, Danielle Steel, and Judith Krantz.
It also featured Presidents Richard M. Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan, as well as Pope John Paul II, whose essay collection, “Crossing the Threshold of Hope,” was published worldwide in 1994. Mr. Janklow, a shrewd, risk-taking negotiator who put himself through college partly with poker winnings before reinventing himself as an advocate for the literati in 1972 and founding his own agency in 1977, was routinely securing multimillion-dollar contracts for writers in his stable by the 1980s, including several deals that he claimed exceeded $25 million. Publishers frequently engaged in bidding wars at his invitation.