Norway Burbank, California. She was 91 years old.
His son Gary confirmed the death at an assisted living facility.
Walters found his place in show business through his ownership of restaurants, pizzerias, mambo joints and nightclubs, including the Norby Walters Supper Club on Manhattan’s East Side near Copacabana, which opened in 1966.
He walked away from the club business two years later, after a supper club patron shot and killed two mobsters in front of about 50 people.
“Everyone fell to the ground” Walters told the New York Times in 2016.. “And this guy was very calm about it. He sat at the bar, put down the gun and waited for them to take him away.”
Mr. Walters closed the club shortly after.
He went on to book musical acts at nightclubs, lounges and hotels, which proved lucrative. Over the next two decades, the client list of Norby Walters Associates (later called General Talent International) included Gloria Gaynor, Dionne Warwick, Patti LaBelle, Parliament-Funkadelic, the Commodores, Luther Vandross, the Four Tops, Run-DMC , Kool & the gang, Grandmaster Flash and Public Enemy.
In the early 1980s, Walters saw a new opportunity at the top level of college football players. With his partner, Lloyd Bloom, he founded World Sports & Entertainment. From 1984 to 1987, the two men signed secret contracts with dozens of athletes that included incentives such as cash, loans and cars in exchange for giving their agency exclusive rights to handle their future negotiations with NFL teams. according to the 1988 federal indictment against them.
Most of the incentives violated National Collegiate Athletic Association regulations and would have left athletes ineligible to compete if their schools had known about them. But Walters and Bloom said their lawyers had assured them that the contracts were legal even if the players were still on their college teams.
The indictment accused Mr. Walters and Mr. Bloom of conspiring with athletes to conceal payments by making them accept postdated contracts that appeared to have been signed after their final college games.
“The crime alleged that he conspired with students to steal their education, which was absurd, since the schools had little concern about whether they received an education,” Gary Walters said in a telephone interview. He added: “Norby wasn’t doing anything different in the sports business than he was in the music business: giving fair compensation to the players he had denied.”
The government also charged that the contracts were backed by threats of violence, some of which involved mobster Michael Franzese, a member of the Colombo crime family. When most of the athletes decided they did not want Mr. Walters and Mr. Bloom to represent them, but took the cars and money anyway, the prosecution accused them of threatening to break their legs and threatening their families with physical damage.
Gary Walters said his father denied threatening anyone and also denied that Mr. Franzese had any involvement in his sports business.
Mr. Walters and Mr. Bloom were convicted for mail fraud and extortion in 1989. Mr. Walters was sentenced to five years in prison and Mr. Bloom to three, but neither served a day.
A court of appeals overturned extortion convictions in 1990ruling that the trial judge had failed to indicate to the jury that the two men’s actions had been guided by their attorneys’ advice that the signatures were legal.
In 1993, mail fraud convictions were also overturned.
“Walters is, by all indications, an unpleasant and untrustworthy guy.” Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote in the 1993 ruling: “but the prosecutor did not prove that his efforts to circumvent NCAA rules amounted to mail fraud.”
Bloom was shot to death in his home in Malibu, California, that same year.
By then, Walters had retreated from his music and sports businesses, which had been damaged by the federal investigation, and had reconfigured himself as a host of celebrity parties and poker games.
Norbert Meyer was born on April 20, 1932 in Brooklyn. His father, Yosele Chezchonovitch, a Polish immigrant, served in the Army (where he changed his name to Joseph Meyer) during World War I and later became a diamond courier and owner of a Brooklyn nightclub and attraction. high school in Coney Island. His mother, Florence (Golub) Meyer, was a homemaker.
“I traveled all over the country with my father’s freak shows,” Walters told New York’s Daily News in 1987. “The whole thing was a scam. There were no monsters, the alligator boy was a poor guy with a horrible skin condition, the disembodied girl was made of mirrors, the turtle girl was a dwarf in a costume.”
Norby studied business at Brooklyn College from 1950 to 1951 and served in the Army until 1953. He and his brother, Walter, took over their father’s club that year and renamed it Norby & Walter’s Bel Air.
On opening night, when Norby greeted customers by saying, “Hi, I’m Norby,” some responded by asking, “Are you Norby Walters?” When the brothers came outside, they saw that the neon sign outside the club did not have the necessary sign. It said: “Norby Walters Bel Air Club.”
“I’ve been Norby Walters ever since,” he told The Atlanta Constitution in 1987. “My brother hated me for it.” His brother, who became known as Walter B. Walters, died in 2004.
Norby Walters carried the name, which he eventually legally changed, throughout his careers in restaurants, clubs, music and sports, and until his final chapter.
From 1990 to 2017, he hosted an annual Oscar viewing party, which he called The Night of 100 Stars, in the ballrooms of a Beverly Hills hotel. It attracted stars such as Jon Voight, Shirley Jones, Charles Bronson, Eva Marie Saint and Martin Landau. He also hosted a regular poker party at his condominiums in Southern California, where regulars included Milton Berle, Bryan Cranston, Richard Lewis, Jason Alexander, James Woods, Charles Durning, Mimi Rogers and Alex Trebek.
“It was two dollars a hand,” Robert Wuhl, the actor and comedian, said by phone. “So the most anyone lost was $250 and the most anyone won was between $300 and $400. It was about kibitzing. “Buddy Hackett would come to kibitz.”
The Oscar party was not as attractive as those organized by Vanity Fair magazine or Elton John, but it was more accessible. In 2016, for $1,000 per seat or $25,000 for a VIP table package, a civilian without showbiz credentials could be admitted and hang out with celebrities.
In addition to his son Gary, Mr. Walters is survived by two other sons, Steven and Richard. His wife, Irene (Solowitz) Walters, died in 2022.
Nearly 30 years after his legal troubles forced him to retire, Walters said he understood his place in the Hollywood pantheon.
“As I always tell my wife,” he told The Times in 2016, a few days before his penultimate Oscar party, “’it used to be important.’”