The WTA has announced on its website that Fred Alfred Barman Jr, an early ally of women’s tennis who was a co-founder of World Team Tennis, a tournament director in Tokyo, and Martina Navratilova’s first agent in the United States alongside his distinguished career in Hollywood, died at the age of 102 on 15 August.
Fred Barman was there for me when I needed somebody the most – when I left my family and my home. Fred was not only my manager and advisor, he gave me his home to call my own. And that is something one can’t pay for. RIP Fred – a life well lived Martina Navratilova
The promoter and agent Fred Albert Barman Jr was born on 21 July, 1918 in Los Angeles, California, and attended Beverly Hills elementary and high schools before being accepted to the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).
He enlisted in both the United States Marines Corp and then the Army Air Corp where he served throughout World War II.
Barman began his long career in Hollywood by working in various capacities at 20th Century Fox Studios, starting in the mail room.
He then started his own business management company, Fred Barman & Associates, Inc, which, somewhat incredibly, he was active in for more than 70 years.
Barman’s long career encompassed many facets of the motion picture and television industry as well as the professional tennis business.
As business manager for film producers, writers, directors and actors, Barman was actively involved in all aspects of production, from negotiation of contracts to onstage shooting.
He was closely connected to Jacks Production Company, which produced 20 movies financed and distributed by 20th Century Fox Film Corporation.
Barman served as business manager for Peter Graves, David Janssen, Troy Donahue and Ray Walston and assisted with negotiations of their respective television series, Mission Impossible, Fugitive, Hawaiian Eye, Surfside Six and My Favorite Martian.
In 1957, he became a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, an affiliation he treasured, and he was also a member of The American Film Institute.
In the arena of professional tennis, Barman was an experienced agent and business manager for players, and notably, he was Martina Navratilova’s first agent.
“Fred Barman was there for me when I needed somebody the most – when I left my family and my home,” said Navratilova, who, with Barman’s help, defected from Czechoslovakia to the United States after losing to Chris Evert in the semi-finals of the US Open in 1975.
“Fred was not only my manager and advisor, he gave me his home to call my own. And that is something one can’t pay for. RIP Fred – a life well lived.”
Barman was also a founder of World Team Tennis (WTT) as one of the first team owners in the groundbreaking multi-city league and for 20 years promoted Gunze World Tennis, a popular tournament that brought the game’s biggest male and female stars to Japan, long before Asia would become an integral part of the international circuit.
In a statement, Billie Jean King, also a co-founder of WTT, and former WTT Commissioner Ilana Kloss, said: “Fred Barman was a brilliant guy who cared deeply – his contributions were significant at times when it wasn’t popular to support women, or even co-ed events such as World Team Tennis.”
Later, Barman’s primary business interests evolved in Japan through his company, Barman International Enterprises, which acted as an agent in securing Japanese television commercials for Hollywood and international celebrities, including Whitney Houston, Pierce Brosnan, Jean Reno and Shakira.
Barman is survived by his long-time companion, Gloria Okoshi; his four daughters, Carole Pederson, Terry Anne Barman, Shari Barman (who played on the Virginia Slims and WTA circuits in the 1970s before gaining prominence in the business side of tennis) and Dori Liston; three grandchildren; three great grandchildren; and three great-great grandchildren.