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Dorothy Forman, 90; Key Supporter of L.A. Opera

January 01, 2004|From a Times Staff Writer

Dorothy Forman, an arts philanthropist and leading supporter of Los Angeles Opera, has died. She was 90.

Forman died Sunday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to a statement from the opera company. The cause of death was not announced.

Forman's philanthropic support for opera in Los Angeles began in the 1970s, when she joined the board of the Music Center Opera Assn.

In 1985, she pledged a substantial amount to the association's successor organization, Los Angeles Opera. It was the company's first major financial gift and established the Forman Family Fund.

Over the years, the fund has underwritten a number of productions in her honor, including the company's first "Rigoletto" and "The Magic Flute" in the 1992-93 season and its production of "La Traviata" in the 1998-99 season. Last June, the fund underwrote a new production of "Don Giovanni."

"Dorothy has been a passionate supporter of Los Angeles Opera since our very first moments of existence," Placido Domingo, the opera's artistic director, noted at the time "Don Giovanni" was presented.

Born Dorothy Danz in Seattle, she earned her bachelor's degree at the University of Washington and married William R. Forman, also a student at the university.

He opened what was said to be the first drive-in theater in the western United States in Washington state in 1946 and went on to found Pacific Theatres.

The Formans relocated to Los Angeles, where he continued to expand his theater holdings and built the Cinerama Dome, which is now part of ArcLight Hollywood.

He died in 1981 at 68 after a long illness.

In addition to supporting major Los Angeles Opera productions, Dorothy Forman was a key backer of the Los Angeles Music and Art School, a nonprofit organization that provides classes year-round in music, dance and visual arts.

She is survived by a son, Michael, chairman of Pacific Theatres Corp.; a daughter, JoAnn Mars; four grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday in the Church of the Recessional at Forest Lawn Memorial-Park in Glendale.

Instead of flowers, the family suggests that donations be made to Los Angeles Opera, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012.

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