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Lloyd E. Rigler, 88; He Made Fortune on Meat Tenderizer

December 12, 2003|Mary Rourke | Times Staff Writer

Lloyd E. Rigler, an entrepreneur and philanthropist who made his fortune selling Adolph's Meat Tenderizer and became a major patron of the arts and a founding donor to the Los Angeles Music Center, has died. He was 88.

Rigler died of cancer Sunday at his home in Hollywood, according to Steven Davis, a close friend.

After selling his meat seasoning business in 1974, Rigler began to spend more of his time sponsoring the arts through a foundation he set up with his business partner, Lawrence E. Deutsch.

In the 1980s, Rigler was co-chairman and later vice chairman of the board of the New York City Opera. He was instrumental in bringing the City Opera to Southern California for a few seasons before the Los Angeles Opera was launched in 1986.

He also was a principal supporter of the Joffrey Ballet, which was based at the Los Angeles Music Center in the 1980s.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday December 16, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 33 words Type of Material: Correction
Rigler obituary -- The obituary of entrepreneur and philanthropist Lloyd E. Rigler in Friday's California section spelled the name of his surviving sister as Andre Estrin. In fact, her name is Audre Estrin.

"Young artists and young arts audiences were Lloyd's life," said Patricia Kennedy, a friend who served on the Joffrey board of directors with Rigler. "Lloyd was an entrepreneur who used his fortune to give back to the community."

Rigler also sponsored projects that made the arts accessible to everyone. In 1994, he launched the Classic Arts Showcase, programming that is made available without charge to cable, public service and commercial TV stations. The showcase, which offers short clips from dance, music and other arts events and is commercial-free, airs on KCET-TV Channel 28 public television and a cable channel, L.A. CityView. The showcase is available in more than 50 million homes nationwide, according to Rigler's nephew, James D. Rigler, who is program director.

"To bring the arts to households that don't have the money to go to see a ballet, an opera or symphony was the idea," Rigler's friend Davis said. "The arts showcase was Lloyd's last hurrah."

One of six children, Rigler was born in Lehr, N.D., and raised in nearby Wishek, a farming town where his father owned a general store. From age 11, he managed his own department in the store, selling gifts and greeting cards. The family lost the business during the Depression, and Rigler moved to Chicago, where he sold electric irons and, later, shoes.

Rigler graduated from the University of Illinois and in 1939 moved to New York City, where he worked in marketing research and sales. In 1940, he demonstrated RCA television sets at the World's Fair in New York.

After serving in the Navy during World War II, he went to work in Los Angeles as a food broker, selling mushroom products. He met Deutsch when he rented space for his products in the back of the Los Angeles dry cleaner that Deutsch managed.

The two men, who became partners in the food brokering business in the mid-1940s, bought the recipe and the name Adolph's Meat Tenderizer in 1948 after discovering the seasoning in a Santa Barbara restaurant owned by Adolph Remp. They also became partners in philanthropy. In 1966, they commissioned the sculpture "Peace on Earth" by Jacques Lipchitz, which is in the fountain area of the Music Center Plaza.

At his death in 1977, Deutsch left his estate to what is now known as the Lloyd E. Rigler-Lawrence E. Deutsch Foundation.

In the 1990s, Rigler sponsored the restoration of the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood.

A lifelong bachelor, Rigler encouraged single people to form a voting bloc over issues such as legal and tax protection for singles. He created the American Assn. of Single People for that purpose in 1999.

He also helped to fund a course on the legal rights of domestic partners, which was taught at the USC Law School in 1985.

Rigler is survived by his sister, Andre Estrin of Portland, Ore., and 11 nieces and nephews. A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Jan. 18 at the Egyptian Theater, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood.

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