HAL GUTHU: A FEW MEMORIES
Soon after I arrived in Los Angeles 15 years ago to work for
Harmony Concepts, Robert Harmon sent me to the CHN Agency. When I
entered that nondescript building on Santa Monica Boulevard, I was a
very green newcomer who knew that Hal Guthu was something of a legend in
our part of the world. Hal greeted me with brisk friendliness, introduced me to Max and pushed a pair of huge, photo-filled binders
across the desk. As I turned the pages of his fabled model books, Hal
could probably tell I was a bit dazzled! He was a kind and informative guide to the new world I was entering.
Throughout the '80s and into the '90s, I returned many times to look
through Halís books. New faces appeared, others dropped out, but Hal
never seemed to change. He enjoyed life, took pleasure in his work and
cared about his girls. And, as I worked with so many ĎHal modelsí over
the years, I learned that they cared about him too.
From time to time, I booked the CHN studio for video shoots.
Working there was like taking a trip into Halís past: he had
accumulated a wealth of props, lights and furniture over the decades.
He also constructed the sets preserved in so many videos and
photographs. It was Halís fantasyland, populated when the lights went on by
the girls who were like family to him.
Time didnít seem to make much of a dent in Hal. I didnít visit CHN
as often in the late '90s, but when I did see Hal or talk to him on the
phone, he was always a hearty and vigorous presence. Yet time does have
the last word, no matter how vital its human adversary. None of us can
ever know what Hal was thinking on the day he made his final decisions,
but thereís no doubt he was an unusually proud and independent human
being. If Hal made his choice to cut short the ravages of time, it was
the final act that defined him as the man he was.
| I was encouraged by Eric [Holman] to visit Hal in early 1988. The word
was that Hal was the man to go to for models.
My handful of appointments with Hal over the course of the next two years
were strictly business, and good business at that. He was always friendly,
professional, and worked hard for his models.
He was a good agent. I always walked out with more good model leads than I could ever hope to work with.
I was afraid of his bird.
| I met Hal Guthu in 1977. I needed an agent who could provide models
and he was one of two who was highly recommended. I
really don't remember who recommended him.
I liked him immediately, as anyone would. He was wonderfully old-fashioned and genuine, and very up-front about the way he wanted to
conduct business, and helpful -- a throwback agent in every respect and it
was hard not to wonder about his history... what he had seen and heard and
done in his decades of agenting, what stars he had known and represented,
what stories he could tell. As nice as he was, he was firm and inflexible about certain
rules -- call him at very prescribed hours and not at any other time -- and I
admired him for that. Above all, he was on your side and non-judgmental.
There was an elderly parrot in his office which occasionally distinguished
itself by squawking out a line or two of agentese: "I'll get back to you
Mort" or "Bob's greenlighted on his project" or "She was born for the part." I heard Hal eventually gave in and gave the parrot to one of his
clients -- an insistent ingenue who had just nailed the lead role in a series
thanks entirely to Hal.
I'd speak occasionally to him down thru the years, and he was always
upbeat. Friends of mine tried to get him to sell them the agency and he would
dance with the idea for awhile, then back off: "I sell this and I've got
nowhere to go and nothing to do." The agency was very much his life.
I've heard that his death has caused understandable grief among just about
everyone who knew him. Why not? He was a decent and dear man and worthy
of inclusion in all of our prayers tonight. Say a prayer for him and, if
he can, he'll probably say one for you.
|I first met Hal back in 1985. Since then I have booked and shot
hundreds of models through CHN. These models always spoke of
Hal in glowing terms, and it was obvious that he was a father image to
so many, including myself. Moreover he was my mentor... and was always
a gentleman to everyone. Hal was more than just a grandfather to our
industry... he was and will always be an icon to all those who knew and
loved him. We all will miss him dearly!
Napali Video Productions
|I only had the pleasure of meeting Hal once, when FM did a shoot at CHN. He was warm, friendly, engaging and entertaining. Even
after all his years in the business, he seemed so pleased and excited to have us there. It was like being welcomed into the home of a favorite
uncle that you hadn't seen in awhile. It's important for me to make clear to everyone that this man
deserves "Legend" status, just for the number of all-time favorite models (far too many to list!) that he introduced to this
industry. He will be deeply missed.
|I am deeply saddened by the news of Hal Guthu's death.
There's hardly a month that goes by that I don't
remember his professionalism, consideration, and even kindness -- three attributes that were hard to come by.
Bishop and I were able to complete, together and separately, hundreds of
photo and video shoots over the years because of Hal's expertise and judgement. He knew all his actors -- male & female
-- and knew which ones would be perfect for us, creating an atmosphere that was fun and productive for both model and photographer alike.
There was no ego, prima donna behavior, lateness, or substance abuse at
our shoots. Hal could spot the troubled ones and steer us away from that scene. I can attest
that Hal was the king, and how often I spoke of him with admiration and appreciation.
HOM/The Tyler Files/Memoirs
|Hal Guthu was a very enthusiastic and supportive kind of guy. We did a
couple of shoots at CHN, I remember during our first tour of the studio, he
was very proud of the backlighting on his sets, in addition to the large collection of props.
God help any model that failed to shut the back door before going outside
to light up a cigarette! It's the only time I ever saw him in cranky-mode.
I'm saddened by this news and feel the need to tell you a little
bit about my memories of Hal.
Hal's studio was a warehouse-like building tucked snugly into the
rows on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood. The main door was
somewhat incognito and led into a little front office. There Hal
would be sitting behind his little desk with his big bird -- a macaw -- hanging out on his desk. The bird was big enough to be
a bit scary, but Hal would welcome and greet you jovially, and you'd sit
down to see the books.
Hal had a collection of 3-ring binders containing info on all the
actors and models he represented. A lot of the pages were pasted-up polaroids
that Hal had shot himself, of people fresh into town who had no
portfolios or print photos with which to advertise themselves yet. As
you looked at the pages, Hal would tell you a little bit about each
person -- what they were like or what their talents were.
Hal was proud of his studio. It mostly consisted of two
long rooms with sets at both ends. He was especially proud of the
sets he'd put together. He was also really proud of all the
props he'd bought over the years. It was almost a shame because he
had more props than you could use in a lifetime, and a lot of them were
simply piled sky-high, not getting used.
A few special details I remember about Hal:
Hal once told me that years ago he shot a bunch of 3-D color slides
of a pretty little brunette, all cheesecake, but then the slides sat
around for some years until he tired of holding onto them. He sold
them to some other guy, and later he really regretted that decision --
when the world re-discovered Betty Page and those 3-D color pictures
wound up released as a comic book and used for other lucrative Betty
Hal ran the camera for Ed Wood Jr. during the making of Glen or
Glenda. You can see an actor portraying him in Tim Burton's Ed
Wood movie. The scene where they're shooting "Glen"
looking in a storefront window, then the whole crew grabs the equipment
and runs off so they won't get caught for shooting without a permit --
that event occurred on Santa Monica right near Hal's studio, all those
Even after Hal reached retirement age, he didn't stop
running his modeling agency. He kept plugging away and keeping his
model books going. I feel sad that he didn't get to enjoy some
retirement years -- he certainly had earned it after all this time.
Open Mind Media