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Bram Goldsmith (1923-2016)
The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts mourns the loss of Bram Goldsmith, whose philanthropic vision shaped our community in countless ways. As Founding Chairman for The Wallis, he led with determination to create a home for arts and culture in the heart of Beverly Hills. His legacy will live for generations to come every time an artist takes the stage of the Bram Goldsmith Theater, with every curtain call, and with every audience member who discovers or rediscovers the joy of a live performance. Our thoughts and condolences are with Elaine, Bruce, Russell, and their families.
May his memory be a blessing.
As chairman and CEO of City National Bank from 1975 to 1995, Mr. Goldsmith increased the company's assets more than five-fold, to $3.2 billion. He created an outstanding team of bankers and developed thousands of relationships with many of the region's most successful entrepreneurs, professionals, and their families. He dramatically expanded the bank's position in Southern California, guiding it through two very serious recessions. Under his Chairmanship, City National became listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Mr. Goldsmith was a director of the company for 50 years, chairman of City National Corporation for over 40 years, and an active member of the company’s Strategy and Planning Committee up to and through its most recent meeting just this month.
Bram Goldsmith was born in Chicago in 1923, the son of Bertha and Max Goldsmith. He attended the University of Illinois and joined the U.S. Army in 1942. Following World War II, he returned to Chicago, then moved to Los Angeles in 1952.
Before turning to banking, Mr. Goldsmith was a successful real estate entrepreneur. He was responsible for the construction of many Southern California buildings, including the City National Bank building at Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles.
A philanthropist and community leader, Mr. Goldsmith led some of the most significant charitable organizations in Los Angeles.
As Founding Chair of the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, he led the effort to renovate the old Beverly Hills Post Office and convert it into a cultural and performing arts center. The 515-seat Bram Goldsmith Theater was named for him. He remained an active Board member until his passing, and he enjoyed seeing his namesake theater filled with artists and audiences in all disciplines during The Wallis’ first three seasons.
“My father knew that for Beverly Hills to become a real city, a great small city, what was required was much more than shopping and dining – any real city requires a cultural center and town hall,” said his son Bruce, also a member of The Wallis Board. “He understood that the public must have a common space connecting them to the greater world of performing arts, music, dance, children’s theater and education, to act as a gathering place for lectures, political debates, literary readings, and to provide a public forum capable of uniting, exciting, and elevating the community…and because of Bram’s belief in the importance of The Wallis, it will remain here to be enjoyed for generations to come.”
He served as president of the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles in 1969 and 1970, and chaired the 1965 Los Angeles United Jewish Fund Campaign. Today, the Federation’s Los Angeles headquarters is the Goldsmith Center. Mr. Goldsmith also was a national chairman of the United Jewish Appeal from 1970 to 1974, a board member of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center from 1979 to 1999, and a board member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association. He was a lifetime trustee of all three organizations.
He was a board member of the Los Angeles Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco from 1981 to 1987. He also served as president of Hillcrest Country Club from 1972 to 1975.
Mr. Goldsmith is survived by his wife Elaine, their two sons Bruce and Russell, and five grandchildren.