NEW YORK (CelebrityAccess) Billy Sammeth, 66, longtime personal manager for acts like Cher and Joan Rivers, died today at New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center after a battle with pancreatic cancer, according to his sister.
Sammeth also worked with acts like Donny Osmond, Olivia Newton-John and KC & The Sunshine Band, according to Hollywood Reporter, which noted that Sammeth was a throwback to the days when a manager worked with only a handful of artists and catered to them ’round the clock.
“Passion for talent has been overridden today by greed,” Sammeth told the Daily Beast. “You’re a lightweight now if you only have one or two clients. If you’re a manager these days you’ve got to be Octomom.”
He would often greet his friends with, “Hi Doll!” the magazine noted.
Sammeth got his start writing press releases for Donny Osmond and the Osmond Brothers when he was just 18 years old, then left college to manage the band’s global licensing empire (“everything from lunch boxes to bubblegum”). He began working in 1973 with Sandy Gatlin who shepherded the careers for Neil Diamond, Barbra Streisand, Dolly Parton and Michael Jackson, as well as Cher, Rivers and Newton-John.
Overall, Cher and Sammeth worked together for more than 20 years, according to THR. During that time, Cher left Sonny Bono to create her empire including her best actress Oscar for “Moonstruck” in 1988. He managed Rivers throughout the 2000s but parted in 2009 acrimoniously, including a lawsuit.
“Being on the road with Billy and Joan, yes, it was business, but it was also family,” concert producer Ed Kasses, the founder of Princeton Entertainment who worked closely with Sammeth for decades, told THR. “Joan was like Mom to everybody. Billy not only was a killer manager for his clients, but he loved them. And all of us loved him back.”