ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Representing celebrity images, from John Belushi to James Dean

Updated on July 14, 2014
The exterior of CMG Worldwide headquarters in Indianapolis features images of some of its famous clients; (from left) Bettie Page, James Dean, Amelia Earhart and Jackie Robinson.
The exterior of CMG Worldwide headquarters in Indianapolis features images of some of its famous clients; (from left) Bettie Page, James Dean, Amelia Earhart and Jackie Robinson.

Story by Robert Kostanczuk

Indianapolis corporation represents celebrity images


Image can be cultivated, and profitable.
A certain Midwest business proves that point.
The lofty status of CMG Worldwide Inc. as a powerful business agent for celebrities can be traced back to its representation of two diverse American icons.
“Norman Rockwell and Elvis Presley were our first two clients,” said Mark Roesler, chairman and chief executive officer of the Indianapolis-based marketer and licensor for more than 300 stars -- most of them deceased http://www.cmgworldwide.com/. Roesler's exploits have been featured on CBS' "60 Minutes" http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/06/19/.

CMG Worldwide protects the names and commercial viability of a dizzying array of dear-parted entertainment luminaries who include Laurence Olivier, John Belushi, Peter Sellers, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday.

Historical figures under CMG’s tent include African-American leader Malcolm X, General George S. Patton Jr. and literary giant Mark Twain.
“We’re an agent that represents personalities who have valuable intellectual property rights; intellectual property rights are assets that people, or corporations, can have,” explained the 58-year-old Roesler, a graduate of Indiana University’s school of business and school of law.
Someone with plenty of the “intangible assets” which Roesler often talks about is James Dean, an early client of CMG, formerly known as Curtis Management Group.
Dean -- a native of Fairmount, Ind. -- died in a car crash at age 24 after starring in only three feature films, but his smoldering-cool persona remains coveted by advertisers 59 years after his death.
Roesler points to one of CMG’s images of Dean that was used in a Chrysler commercial featuring Bob Dylan during this year’s Super Bowl telecast.
“After these celebrities are dead, they’re seemingly able to generate a significant amount of money, and, in some cases, more than what they were able to generate during their lifetimes,” Roesler said in a recent phone interview.

Having fashioned the foundation for CMG in 1981, he is now an Indianapolis resident with offices on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, and a home in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Aside from entertainers, Roesler’s enterprise controls image use for deceased sports legends such as Lou Gehrig and racial-equality icon Jackie Robinson, who is featured in a giant image on the exterior of CMG’s headquarters.
One of the most intriguing members of the client list is aviatrix Amelia Earhart, who disappeared in 1937 during an around-the-world flight.
Earhart’s own words and appeal as a female trailblazer were utilized this year during the Winter Olympics in a Visa commercial.
“They came to us for approval, and got the license from us for that,” Roesler noted.
Aside from notable humans, there are trademarks for CMG to watch over, such as the eye-catching “I Love New York” logo with the illustration of a heart https://mckinneylaw.iu.edu/alumni-donors/alumni-magazines/2011summer.pdf.

Another American bellwether represented by CMG is the first person to set foot on the moon, Neil Armstrong, who died in 2012.
Many of the notables who are handled by the company get paid for autographs and personal appearances -- but Armstrong was an astronaut who was cautious about cashing in.
“He was very concerned about how his name and likeness was used, and turned down probably almost all the opportunities that were presented to him,” Roesler said. “We had somebody that had a standing offer of a million dollars on the table for Neil to sign, basically, a night’s worth of autographs on documents, and he refused to do it. He did not want to commercially exploit his name and likeness.”
Armstrong’s refusal meant commission money was lost for CMG, which has some of the most lucrative deceased personalities under its umbrella.
Forbes magazine’s 2013 list of the top-earning dead celebrities features CMG client and 1950s pinup starlet Bettie Page, who ranks No. 8 with $10 million.
http://www.forbes.com/special-report/2013/dead-celebrities.html.

The allure of such bygone stars is tied to clout that reaches beyond mere entertainment skills, according to Kathryn Cramer Brownell, an assistant history professor at Purdue University whose teachings deal with the intersecting of media, pop culture and politics.
“Celebrities can really provide that window into learning broader lessons about American history and American culture at a particular time,” Brownell said.
For her new book that is set for a November release -- “Showbiz Politics: Hollywood in American Political Life” -- Brownell is using pictures of the late actress Bette Davis, a CMG client.
“I worked with CMG to get the licensing to use those images,” Brownell said.
Roesler said a “major” advertising campaign using CMG imagery could command a fee “in the six figures.”
In a battle for revenue, the CEO has sometimes gone to court.
This year, Roesler’s business was in the news because it sued Twitter over a James Dean Twitter handle http://wishtv.com/2014/02/11/lawsuit-filed-for-control-over-james-dean-twitter-handle/.
Roesler said the litigation was launched so CMG could “recover that domain.”
The court case, he said, speaks to the broader issue of “the ability of a celebrity to control their name in social media.”

Another legal battle saw Roesler taking on Warner Bros. over rights to the image of Dean, whose only three starring films were released by the studio.
Roesler said CMG won the dispute, while noting the outcome “really propelled us” in the early 1990s.
The ’90s also was the decade in which the celebrity agency secured a court victory confirming “we were the ones that really controlled the rights to Malcolm X and the ‘X’ insignia,” Roesler said http://www.markroesler.com/timeline/frameset.html.

Aside from managing deceased celebrities and their images, CMG Worldwide handles living people of fame, including Pamela Anderson and Ivana Trump, according to a client list supplied by the corporation.
CMG displays memorabilia of its clients at The Legends Museum in Indianapolis.
Additionally, a branch of CMG manages and designs websites. One of the those CMG sites showcases rock ’n’ roll icon Chuck Berry.


Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)