By Joshua Rich
Updated May 06, 2009 at 12:00 PM EDT

Sam Cohn, the talent agent whose five-decade career stands out as one of the most prominent in Hollywood history, died Wednesday in New York at age 79. The cause was a brief illness, according to Variety. A founding member of International Creative Management, Cohn was the biggest rep in New York for several decades. A lawyer who broke into the business in 1963, Cohn represented a slew of the biggest names in entertainment during his career, including Meryl Streep, Woody Allen, Robert Altman, Paul Newman, Mike Nichols, E.L. Doctorow, Arthur Miller, and Kander and Ebb. He had retired from ICM in February.