Parker and Mario
Led by the legendary theater agent Audrey Wood, the agency represented Tennessee Williams, William Inge, and Arthur Miller, among other luminaries. Then at an office cocktail party, Parker met Ms. Wood. “Some things in my life have felt almost mystical in the way that they’ve worked out. Meeting Audrey was one of these things.”
“We got to talking, and she told me the first rule of show business is to get your foot in the door,” Parker says. “To my surprise, she offered me a job as her assistant. She said the pay would be $3 a week, which was minimum wage at the time.” Working for Ms. Wood launched Parker’s fifty-year career as an agent representing playwrights and directors. “I became an agent because I love plays and I love helping people,” Parker says. “It was absorbing, demanding, and wonderful — my true life’s work.”
Parker’s clients collectively won three Pulitzer Prizes, twelve Tony Awards, and numerous Obies, Emmys, and other awards. Some of the plays and musicals that Parker helped bring into production include Once Upon A Mattress, Tommy, and Ragtime. His clients included Scott Ellis, Frank Galati, and Terrence McNally, among others. He retired from the William Morris Agency, where he worked for most of his career, in 2010.
After retirement, Parker remained active in the community, serving as a mentor to Wesleyan students and supporting nonprofit organizations, including the Fire Island Pines Arts Project. Then in 2009, he suffered a mild stroke.
After Parker’s condition stabilized, the hospital referred him to a home care agency to support his recovery. “I’ve always been a very independent person,” Parker says. “I pride myself on that. So you can imagine how I felt when I suddenly needed help with basic things, like getting out of bed and walking my dog Rosie.”
“It didn’t help that I had very little in common with many of the aides the agency sent,” Parker says. “Many of them were wonderful people. But we had nothing to talk about all day. And some of them were just bossy. I couldn’t get them to listen to me.” So as soon as Parker felt strong enough, he was ready to end service with the agency. “I was ready to live by myself again,” Parker says. “But my niece, whom I’m very close to, was worried about me. She thought I needed someone else around to help out.”
A Different Approach
Around that time, Parker learned about Renewal Care Partners through SAGE, a nonprofit organization. “My friend at SAGE spoke highly of Renewal Care Partners, especially for its emphasis on companion care and diversity. So I decided to give the organization a call.”