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Luanne Wells, the philanthropist and widow of Disney executive Frank G. Wells who served as an invaluable supporter of the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, has died. She was 87.
Wells died July 15 at her home in Beverly Hills, her son, Kevin, told The Hollywood Reporter.
A patron of the arts, education and the environment, Luanne Wells also was a member of the California Institute of the Arts board of trustees, the Getty Conservation Council, the Junior League of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Music Center and served on the boards of the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival and the Shambala Preserve, Tippi Hedren’s rescue program for wild animals.
She joined the board of the Beverly Hills Cultural Center Foundation — the forerunner of The Wallis — in 1998 and was a director and member of the executive committee for 23 years.
Rachel Fine, The Wallis’ executive director and CEO, praised Wells’ “intelligence, thoughtfulness and spark” in a statement to THR.
“As a Beverly Hills High School student, she frequented The Wallis when it was the United States Post Office, which housed her favorite candy store,” she said. “Her passion for the original historic building is well represented by the beautiful landscaping to which she committed much time, energy and care as well as the Education Courtyard, which bears her family’s name.”
Wells steered generous support to The Wallis, allowing the organization to include not only performing arts but also arts learning, education and community service in its programming. The center opened in 2013.
In 1989, Wells and her late husband established Environment Now, and she remained its executive chairman at the time of her death. She also helped launch the Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic at UCLA and “baykeeper” organizations that help protect the waters of Santa Monica and San Diego.
A devoted fan of the Los Angeles Lakers, she spent her spare time in Malibu breeding horses and other animals and cultivating tree species.
Born Luanne Cosgrove, she attended Brigham Young University and UCLA after Beverly Hills High. She married Frank Wells in March 1956, and after their honeymoon, they lived in Hawaii, where her husband was a lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
The Disney president and COO died in April 1994 in a helicopter crash in the Ruby Mountains of Nevada while on a skiing vacation. Snow in the helicopter’s engine was the cause of the crash, the National Transportation Safety Board concluded.
Survivors also include her grandchildren, Cassidy, Tyler, Luke, Carson and Sam. Her other son, Eric Briant Wells, an actor in The Goonies, died in 2001 at age 36.
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