August 3, 1922
|Died||August 24, 2002(aged 80)|
|Known for||chairman of the Warner Bros.|
|Connie Sitomar (divorced)|
Page Cuddy (until death)
|Children||Fran Ashley Dubin|
Kim Ashley Balin
Ba-nhi Ashley Sinclair
Ashley was born to a poor Jewish family in a Brooklyn in 1922 as Theodore Assofsky. He graduated from Franklin K. Lane High School. At the age of 14, he went to work at the William Morris Agency where his uncle, Nat Lefkowitz, worked as a general manager (Lefkowitz would later rise to become president and then co-chairman of the William Morris Agency). At the age of 20, he became an agent for the agency and changed his name to "Ashley" as it sounded dignified and English. In 1945, despite the ire of his uncle, he started his own talent agency, Ted Ashley and Associates In 1950, he was joined by William Morris agent Ira L. Steiner and the agency was renamed the Ashley-Steiner Agency. In 1962, the agency was renamed Ashley-Famous after it purchased Charles K. Feldman's Famous Artists Agency. In 1967, the agency was sold to Kinney National Company in exchange for 12,750,000 in Kinney stock. Ashley made the sale for personal reasons, indicating that he did not want to be an agent anymore. In an interview, Ashley quotes, "There's something undermining to one's sense of one's self about that whole relationship" (referencing the agent and client partnership).
In 1969, Kinney head Steve Ross acquired the cash-strapped film company Warner Bros.-Seven Arts at Ashley's suggestion. The purchase was made and Ashley was appointed CEO of the movie studio where he served until 1981. Beginning with the unexpected success of the concert documentary Woodstock (1970), the company started scoring box office hits again, reestablishing Warner Bros. as a major studio. He then became vice chairman of Warner Communications until his retirement in 1988.
Ashley was married twice. In 1945, he married Connie Sitomar, the sister of his best friend who also worked at the Willim Morris Agency. His second wife was Page Cuddy. He died aged 80 in New York of leukemia, after a long illness. He had two biological daughters: Fran Curtis Dubin and Diane Ashley; and two adopted daughters, Kim Balin and Banhi Sinclair whom he and his second wife adopted after the death of actress Ina Balin.