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Bram Goldsmith, who in a 1985 Newsweek profile was nicknamed “banker to the stars,” died Sunday. He was 93.
Goldsmith was born in Chicago in 1923 and served in Burma during World War II. In 1953 he and his wife, Elaine, moved to Los Angeles where he helped his father-in-law, Ben Maltz, create City National Bank to, in part, cater to the area’s fast-growing entertainment industry.
In the 1960s, City National helped Frank Sinatra gather $240,000 in marked bills to help the entertainer get his son back from kidnappers. In the 1980s, the bank got into the film-financing business with loans to the producers of Silence of the Lambs and Driving Miss Daisy and others. City National is also the official bank of the Tony Awards and a major provider of services to the music industry.
Goldsmith was chairman and CEO of City National for 20 years, from 1975-1995, and in that time he grew the company’s assets five-fold, to $3.2 billion. He was a City National board member for five decades.
A year ago, Royal Bank of Canada acquired City National for $5.4 billion. City National today is run by Bram’s son, Russell Goldsmith, who became CEO after his father stepped down 21 years ago. Russell Goldsmith is a former CEO of Republic Pictures and former COO of Lorimar.
Prior to his appointment as CEO of City National in 1975, Bram Goldsmith was CEO of Buckeye Realty and Management, where he helped construct 30 buildings along Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, including the headquarters of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.
Goldsmith played a leadership role in several charitable organizations, including the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, the United Way and the National Conference of Christians and Jews.
Besides his son Russell and wife Elaine, Goldsmith is survived by his son Bruce Goldsmith, a playwright and novelist, as well as daughters-in-law Julie Clayton Goldsmith and novelist and TV producer Karen Mack Goldsmith and five grandchildren.
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