Paying tribute in the Guardian, the playwright Christopher Hampton described Tom Erhardt as being “in his heyday perhaps the most knowledgeable theatre agent in the world”.
Apprenticed to Peggy Ramsay, he joined the formidable agent in 1971 where he developed long and fruitful relationships with many of the UK’s leading and most important playwrights. Appointed a company director in 1974, he took charge of the agency’s international operations. Notable among his many achievements with Ramsay was securing worldwide stewardship of Tennessee Williams’ work.
Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Erhardt began his theatre career transcribing for the New Dramatists Committee in New York before working for the agent Lucy Kroll, whose client list included Bette Davis, Noel Coward and Rodgers and Hammerstein.
He moved to London in 1966 to work with producer Peter Bridge, striking up a friendship with Alan Ayckbourn, for whose breakthrough success Relatively Speaking he provided the long elusive last line. He also served as assistant director on the 1971 Broadway production of How the Other Half Lives, coaching US television star Phil Silvers in the nuances of Ayckbourn’s colloquial English dialogue.
After Ramsay’s death in 1991, he joined Jenne and Giorgio Casarotto to form Casarotto Ramsay, where he represented British playwrights including Ayckbourn, David Hare, Edward Bond and Caryl Churchill. He remained as a director and head of theatre until his retirement, aged 85, in 2013.
In 2008, under the guidance of trustees Laurence Harbottle and Simon Callow, the Peggy Ramsay Foundation established an annual prize in Erhardt’s name to recognise emerging playwrights.
Thomas Joseph Erhardt was born on March 13, 1928 and died on December 28, 2019 aged 91.