A corporate lawyer for some 20 years, Janklow got into agenting in the early '70s, when his college roomie William Safire asked him to help sell a book he'd written about Richard Nixon. Janklow landed Safire an astonishingly lucrative deal—and he also later sued the publisher, William Morrow, when it tried to renege on the contract, creating a firestorm. Janklow went on to represent blockbuster queens Judith Krantz, Danielle Steel and Jackie Collins, whose mini-series development deals at Creative Artists Agency meant that Janklow enjoyed a close working relationship in the '80s with CAA chief Michael Ovitz. In 1989, Ovitz orchestrated the creation of a partnership between Janklow and Lynn Nesbit, who was making a name for herself at ICM—a CAA rival—repping literary stars like Tom Wolfe and Michael Crichton. The Janklow & Nesbit agency now represents around 1,000 authors looked after by a small group of agents including Janklow's partner Nesbit, his son Luke, and director Tina Bennett.
In addition to Krantz and Steele, other boldface names Janklow has repped include William Goldman, Sidney Sheldon, and Thomas Harris, author of the Hannibal Lecter books. Plenty of big political figures call Janklow their agent, including four presidents, one unofficial president (Al Gore), and rabble-rouser Michael Moore. And it was Janklow who Pope John Paul II turned to when he made plans to pen a memoir. (Mort earned the pontiff a $6 million dollar advance.) More recently, Janklow brokered the sale of Ted Turner's memoir to Warner Books for $4.5 million. Some of Janklow's big names can be capricious: Barbara Walters signed up to write a memoir with Miramax Books for $6 million but in May 2006, she abruptly backed out of the deal, deciding that she wanted more dough—only to re-sign with Knopf for a reported $5 million.
Janklow's wife is Linda LeRoy Janklow, a granddaughter of Warner Brothers founder Harry Warner, daughter of Hollywood director Mervyn LeRoy (Little Caesar, The Bad Seed), and sister of the late NYC restaurateur Warner LeRoy (Tavern on the Green, the Rainbow Room). The Janklows live on Fifth Avenue on the Upper East Side. Neighbors have included Ken Langone, former Random House CEO Alberto Vitale, and publicist Harriet Weintraub.
Janklow's son Luke works at the agency and reps the likes of Anderson Cooper and Simon Cowell. Luke's sister Angela is the former West Coast editor of Vanity Fair who now works in marketing for Dolce & Gabbana.