Shirley Harriet Becker Dies: Former Warner Bros Distribution VP Was Trailblazer For Women Executives

Warner Bros

Shirley Harriet Becker, former Warner Bros VP Distribution, died May 9 at the Motion Picture Television Fund home in Calabasas, CA. She was 81.

In the male-dominated film distribution world, Becker continually broke barriers in a career that spanned 40 years at Warner Bros. She came to the Burbank, CA-based lot before she was married with children, then returned to Warner Bros where she stayed until her retirement in 2001. Early on in her career, she was the secretary to then-Warner Bros distribution head Terry Semel, who ultimately became the studio’s chairman and co-CEO.

Becker rose through the ranks to her VP spot and is described by WB insiders as their “mother ship,” a pioneer who busted glass ceilings long before people were using those descriptions. Becker was known for her grace, elegance and intelligence, qualities that differentiated her from other executives in the motion picture industry.

In the world of philanthropy, Becker rolled up her sleeves and helped raise funds for several charities: She was a Board Member for Variety The Children’s Charity for more than a decade and worked on a multitude of fund-raisers.

Born in Norma, NJ on July 21, 1935, Becker was one of seven children. Her family moved to Los Angeles when she was 10, and she attended John Burroughs Middle School, Los Angeles High School and UCLA.

Becker is survived by her husband Mickey Borofsky; two sons Steven and Jeffrey; her daughters-in-law Patricia and Haya; her grandchildren Lauren, Jane, Sam, Zoe, Ariel, and Elijah; and her brother Henry. The funeral was held this morning at Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Variety, The Children’s Charity and the American Diabetes Association.

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