Edie Wasserman 1915-2011
Edie Wasserman, a great friend and supporter of CalArts, passed away last week on Aug. 18. The widow of Hollywood legend Lew Wasserman, Mrs. Wasserman was a well-known philanthropist in her own right, instrumental in raising large sums of money for the Motion Picture and Television Fund, Los Angeles’ Music Center, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and CalArts.
The Wasserman Foundation first donated a gift to the Institute in 1977. Three years later, it provided an endowment of $1 million for merit-based scholarships, which at that time represented the single-largest endowment gift ever made to CalArts. Since then, the Lew and Edie Wasserman Foundation Scholarship Fund has awarded more than $3 million to more than 700 students at CalArts. The Wassermans’ commitment to higher education was extraordinarily deep. The Foundation, which was established in 1952, also awarded scholarship funds to deserving students at Brandeis, Georgetown, UCLA and CalTech. These gifts were especially meaningful to the Wassermans since during the Depression neither of them had the resources to attend college themselves.
Mrs. Wasserman also served on CalArts’ Board of Trustees from 1978 to 1987; her daughter, Lynn, was a Trustee from 1988 to 1991, and her grandson, Casey, was a Board member from 2001 to 2004.
CalArts President Steven D. Lavine remembers the Wassermans fondly: “A remarkable couple, Edie and Lew set the standard for civic and philanthropic leadership in the entertainment community,” he said. “It is an honor and a pleasure to have known them.”
Born Edith Beckerman in 1915, in Cleveland, she married Lew Wasserman in 1936. In the late ‘30s they moved to Los Angeles and Mrs. Wasserman began building relationships that helped her become one of Hollywood’s most popular and influential women. She and Mr. Wasserman were married 66 years until his death in 2002.
Image of Lew & Edie Wasserman, above, courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library, 1975.