FLORIDA (CelebrityAccess) Legendary surfer Gary Propper, 72, also a manager in the entertainment business and founder of Fantasma Presents, died March 14 because of undisclosed health issues.
Considered one of the most influential surfers to come out of Florida, Propper also became a music businessman, securing the film rights to “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” movie trilogy and managing acts like Carrot Top (also from Propper’s stomping grounds of Cocoa Beach, Fla.), Gallagher and Jon Lovitz. He also began Fantasma Presents, now a powerhouse promotion company and a Southeast arm of AEG. He was also known to have directed some of Burt Reynolds’ later ventures.
Propper was also known as a highly competitive and legendary surfer, once throwing a trophy into the bushes because it was second place. The Florida Surf Museum in Cocoa Beach hosted a Gary Propper exhibit in 2017, focusing on Propper’s 50-year connection to the Hobie brand and his artwork.
“We had a great turnout,” museum executive director John Hughes told Florida Today. “He was the first real surf star, not just on the East Coast, but worldwide. There were other surfers famous before him, but he was the one who turned it into a professional job. When he filled out his tax return, he would put ‘professional surfer’ as his job.”
Propper began Fantasma magazine in the 1970s, which launched Fantasma Presents – home to other luminaries in the business like Jon Stoll and John Valentino – that is now a subsidiary of AEG Presents. There he promoted shows for little known acts like Devo, Blondie, and The Police into Florida clubs. Fantasma, today, is considered one of the powerhouse promoters of the U.S.
Propper, who competed in the Surfing World Championships in 1966, ’68 and ’70, was one of the first to be paid as a celebrity sponsor, creating a deal with Hobie Alter for the first East Coast model of the Hobie surfboard, with the Gary Propper signature logo and Hobie logo. When the board debuted in 1966, it became the world’s bestselling signature model, reportedly accounting for 50 percent of the 6,000 boards Hobie made that year, according to Florida Today, and made Propper one of the highest-paid, and maybe the first, professional surfers of his era.
“Oh my goodness,” “Oh my goodness,” Craig Harriman, organizer of this year’s Easter Surf Festival and CEO of The Beachside Resident magazine, told the paper. “He broke Rush, the band, Carrot Top, re-booted Burt Reynolds’ career, Gallagher …” .
Propper reportedly saw a Ninja Turtles comic and pitched the idea for the films in Hong Kong. Jim Henson created the first costume and it became the highest-grossing indie film of all time.
“We just had dinner last (Thursday) night,” Harriman told the paper. “He was even on the phone doing business deals. That’s what kind of guy he was. Even at 72.
“He had a lot going on,” he added. “He was ready to make a weed company; he was part owner of Jetson Surf Technology, which makes a jet-powered surfboard to help those who may not have the ability to surf themselves; he was working with the producers of the original ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ for a follow-up called ‘Magic Feathers’ in Vegas.
“He was still going strong. We’re all going to miss him.”
h/t Florida Today