Norby Walters, a music agent who hosted the annual “Night of 100 Stars” Oscars viewing party for more than 25 years, died Dec. 10 in Burbank. He was 91.
Walters, who died in his sleep of natural causes, was described by Variety‘s Steven Gaydos as “one of the most dapper, snappiest characters in a town grown unfortunately and increasingly gray and corporate” back in 2009 for his commitment to providing Hollywood’s most notable stars with a good time.
In entertainment circles, Walters was known for hosting low-stakes poker parties at his West Hollywood condo. Those poker parties were exclusive to actors and were designed to be an open space where players could chill and chat about their lives and work. Some of the players included Robert Downey Jr., Ed Asner, Sharon Stone, Angie Dickinson and Sid Caesar.
The party professional was also known for hosting the annual “Night of 100 Stars” Oscars viewing party hosted at the Beverly Hilton. Despite the event often featuring a slate of Oscar winners like Alison Janney, Richard Dreyfuss and Patricia Neal, it was also open to civilians who were willing to pay the $1000 price. Walters called his gathering accessible compared to other Oscars parties in an interview with the New York Times in 2016.
“You can’t get into the Vanity Fair party unless you’re Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks or Tom Mix,” he told the Times.
Walters got his professional start in 1952 as booker for many jazz artists and later, a nightclub owner. He left the nightclub industry in 1968 and started music agency Norby Walters Associates (which later became General Talent International). In his work at Norby Walters Associates, Walters continued his work booking talented musicians across a variety of genres from soul to disco to R&B such as Marvin Gaye, Patti LaBelle and, for a short time, Michael Jackson.
Although he often worked and partied with the biggest names in Hollywood, Walters remained remarkably modest, saying, “I’m bottom of the totem pole to [the stars].”
“But I know who I am, and I know what I am,” he continued.
Walters is survived by his three sons Steven, Richard and Gary.