By Erin Clossey
Hollywood and Emerson are remembering producer and talent manager Howard Lapides ’72, who died Thursday, August 1, after a battle with colon cancer.
Lapides, 68, was a man of many talents during his 50-plus year career. He was a radio producer and personality; a concert promoter; a film and TV producer; a manager of comics, musicians, and more; a sportscaster; and a creative consultant.
And through it all, Lapides, who served on Emerson’s Board of Overseers (now Board of Advisors) from 2007-2011 and was inducted into the WERS Hall of Fame in 2018, was an Emersonian, through and through.
“They really were an Emerson family,” said Barbara Rutberg ’68, who retired from the College in 2017 after a long career in alumni engagement. “They met [through] Emerson, Maria [D’Arcangelo Lapides ‘85, his wife] and Howard, and their daughter [Olivia Lapides ‘17] went to Emerson.”
Rutberg said people were naturally drawn to Lapides, and he to them.
“He always had a good story to tell, people loved being around him,” Rutberg said. “He was very generous with Emerson students and young alumni. He always found time to mentor and give advice, he was always clued into the business.”
As CEO of Lapides Entertainment, he produced a number of reality television shows, including VH1’s Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, for which Lapides won a Prism Award, and Sober House, both of which he created with longtime friend and collaborator, Drew Pinsky.
The celebrity doctor on Friday tweeted out an obituary featuring a photo of himself and Lapides, writing “We want to celebrate his life and show appreciation for the love he shared with us all over the years in the entertainment industry.”
Lapides executive produced The Man Show for Comedy Central, hosted by Adam Carolla and Jimmy Kimmel, and the film Stealing Harvard (2002), and produced Freddy Got Fingered (2001) starring comedian Tom Green. Carolla, Kimmel, and Green were among the many performers Lapides represented.
Green wrote in a tweet, “Rest in peace Howard. The comedy world just lost one of the great standup and entertainment managers of all time.”
Read about the legendary Howard Lapides here. Rest in peace Howard. The comedy world just lost one of the great standup and entertainment managers of all time. https://t.co/0tldUg1wjp— Tom Green (@tomgreenlive) August 2, 2019
Lapides got his start in media at age 16, at radio station WYSL-FM in Buffalo, New York. While studying for his bachelor of science in Speech at Emerson, he produced the top-rated The Steve Fredericks Show on WMEX, and worked weekends on-air at WEIM in Fitchburg, Massachusetts.
“Howard was an accomplished radio personality before branching off successfully into other areas of media,” said WERS General Manager Jack Casey. “His classmates loved him, and he contributed greatly to the success of WERS during his student days at Emerson. In addition, he was a really great person and he will be greatly missed.”
After graduation, Lapides spent five years with Baton Broadcasting of Canada, at stations in Windsor and Ottawa, Ontario. He became one of Canada’s most successful concert promoters, and developed and hosted a Buffalo Bills post-game talk show at WBEN radio, before making his way to Hollywood.
Gary Grossman ’70, a TV producer, writer, director, and novelist, as well as an Emerson College Trustee, said Lapides already had on-air experience and talent when he came to Emerson, but over the course of his four years at the College he built the ability to lead, innovate, and guide careers.
“Howard became a powerhouse, a force of nature in Hollywood as a manager and producer who always put his clients first,” Grossman said. “Now, Emerson and the entire entertainment industry has lost a dedicated game changer, a principled thought leader, and a mover and shaker.
“I’ve lost a true friend and colleague. I doubt there will ever be another like Howard to come along and make such a difference.”
In addition to his wife, Maria, and daughter, Olivia, Lapides leaves a son, Max. A memorial tribute will be held Wednesday, August 7, 1:00-3:00 pm, at The Comedy Store in West Hollywood, California.
The family is requesting donations in Lapides’ memory be made to the Lions for Lions Scholarship Fund, which Olivia helped create when she was Senior Class Gift Chair for the Class of 2017.