Candy Monteiro, co-founder of the Monteiro Rose Dravis Agency, died of congestive heart failure Saturday, January 28, in Woodland Hills, California. She was 69.
Monteiro was a much-loved mentor and mother confessor for countless writers and artists during her more than 30 years as a film and television literary agent. The agency she formed in 1987 with Fredda Rose has represented such luminaries as Robert Ludlum, Suzanne Collins (TheHunger Games), Brian Selznick (The Invention of Hugo Cabret, basis for the movie Hugo), Kate DiCamillo (The Tale of Despereaux), along with many noted TV and film writers.
Born Candace Whittenberg Nov. 17, 1942, in Little Rock, Arkansas, she and her family soon moved to Portland, Oregon. Her first job was working at her family's record store, where she frequently spent half her paycheck buying records. There she met rock legends like Elvis Presley and Bill Haley as they stopped by to promote their latest hits.
After earning degrees in Psychology and Sociology at the University Of Oregon, she married her college sweetheart, Ray Tusken. The couple eventually moved to Los Angeles, where he pursued a music career while she got a job in the chart department at Billboard Magazine. Affectionately nicknamed "Miss Hustle," her talent and high-energy optimism soon led to her own pop music column at the magazine. As Candy Tusken, she became host in 1977 of Westwood One's nationally syndicated Star Trak radio series, interviewing rock royalty from Michael Jackson to Elton John to Paul McCartney. Asked to host a TV version of her hit series, she decided she didn't want to be a famous face, and turned it down.
The couple divorced after 13 years of marriage. Meeting Columbia Records' legendary VP of Promotion Stan Monteiro at a party, she then moved to New York, where the two were married. There, she also began her agency career as an assistant at the Henry Morrison Literary Agency, whose roster included Robert Ludlum. "I was so excited. I couldn't believe I was actually going to get paid to read!" she remembered later.
After a year in New York, the couple moved back to L.A., where she became an assistant to literary agent Sylvia Hirsch at the Lou Weitzman Agency. She quickly moved up the ladder to full literary agent. When Weitzman's agency was acquired by the Sy Fischer Company, Monteiro met her future business partner and closest friend, agent Fredda Rose, formerly West Coast Director of Business Affairs at ABC. Rose specialized in prime-time TV writers, 2 producers and directors, while Monteiro focused on writers and producers of animated TV shows, a previously ignored area that resulted in major billings for the agency. "I remember having lunch with her that first day we met and vowing that we'd go into business one day together. And 2½ years later, we did," recalled Rose.
In 1987, Monteiro and Rose left Sy Fischer to form their own company, the Monteiro Rose Agency, taking approximately 75 clients with them. For the next 20 years, the pair successfully represented some of the biggest names in TV and film writing and producing. They were later joined by Jason Dravis, the agency's current President. Monteiro said she never signed a writer she didn't totally believe in, and she maintained that belief unwaveringly throughout her clients' careers -- nurturing their talents, salving their bruises and fighting fiercely for their rights.
After the death of Stan Monteiro in 2001, she met artist/teacher Les Kelly, whom she married in 2005. She retired from the agency shortly afterwards, much loved and admired by her many, many friends and colleagues. When she died, surrounded by family and friends, the attending nurse said "Some people are lucky if they have one person there at the end. She had a crowd."
She is survived by her beloved husband Les Kelly, niece Candace Derrick, whom she loved as a daughter, and three grandchildren, Alexis, Justin, and Sean. A memorial is planned for early March. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Pet Orphans of Southern California, 7720 Gloria Avenue, Van Nuys, CA 91406.