The widow of Hollywood legend Lew Wasserman and in her own right a prominent philanthropist who raised money and contributed greatly to the Motion Picture Television Fund, died of natural causes today. She was 95. Edith “Edie” Beckerman was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on November 4th, 1915, and married Lew on July 5th, 1936. An MCA agent who eventually presided over Universal Studios and grew it into a TV and movie and music and theme park powerhouse, her husband was the de facto king of Hollywood and Edie its queen. A patron of education and the arts, as well as a social activist and industry icon, Edie created the Wasserman Foundation in 1952 as a vehicle for her and Lew’s intense dedication to charitable giving. She served on the Board of Directors for the Motion Picture & Television Fund and her steadfast commitment to the idea of Hollywood helping its own spread to others because the couple led by example. (Husband Lew arranged for Edie to have a birthday celebration each year at the Home.) Like Lew, she was renowned for her legendary intellect, humor, and wit. Like Lew, she was a lifelong supporter of the Democratic party and also created a Wasserman Scholars program at six major universities nationwide.
After Lew passed away on June 3rd, 2002, Edie had been in and out of ill health but always took great joy in her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren in recent years. But her crowning achievement came when the MPTF in 2009 announced the decision to close its acute care hospital and intensive care nursing facilities because they were losing $10 million a year. Edie together with her grandson/businessman Casey Wasserman worked behind-the-scenes to find a way to convince the powers-that-be that these acute care patients had to be serviced. Because of the pressure and persuasiveness of them and other moguls, the Motion Picture and Television Fund did an about-face and announced it had pacted with Providence Health & Services California to broaden and expand healthcare services to the entertainment industry and the community on the storied Wasserman Campus in Woodland Hills. The relationship with Providence meant that that MPTF could continue providing long-term care services on its campus, setting aside its closure announcement. For all that she did for the entertainment industry, Hollywood today salutes her.