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Leah Adler, the mother of Steven Spielberg who fostered his interest in filmmaking, died Tuesday. She was 97.
A former concert pianist and painter, Adler died at her home in Los Angeles surrounded by her family, according to a spokesperson for Spielberg’s production company, Amblin Partners. She most recently owned a kosher restaurant on Pico Boulevard in West L.A. called the Milky Way.
Born in Cincinnati and raised during the Roaring Twenties and the Depression with her older brother Bernard, Leah Frances Posner developed a love of music when she learned piano at age 5. She studied at the Music Conservatory in town and graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a degree in home economics.
In February 1945, she married electrical engineer Arnold Meyer Spielberg, and they had four children — Steven, Anne, Sue and Nancy.
From Cincinnati, Leah and Arnold moved to Haddenfield, N.J., where they lived for seven years before relocating to Phoenix in 1957. At Louise Kerr’s studio in the Arizona city, she often did piano solos and performed with chamber music groups.
An accomplished painter, she owned The Village Shop in Scottsdale, Ariz., where she showcased the works of local artists. She became known around town as “the lady with the Peter Pan haircut” who drove a Jeep.
In 1964, the family moved to Los Gatos, Calif. They built a house in Saratoga and lived there for two years. After her divorce, Leah moved back to Scottsdale, where she married Bernie Adler in 1967.
Leah and Bernie remained in Arizona with Sue and Nancy until eventually moving to Los Angeles, where they opened The Milky Way. The establishment serves as a shrine to her son.
In addition to Spielberg and his wife Kate Capshaw, survivors also include her daughters Anne (and husband Dan), Sue (Jerry) and Nancy (Shimon), 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Anne is a writer, Sue a business owner and Nancy a producer.
Leah was known for her sharp wit. “I told Steve, if I’d known how famous he was going to be, I’d have had my uterus bronzed,” she said in a 1994 Los Angeles Times story.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers, a donation be made to a favorite charity in her name.
A statement from Amblin said that “while known for her red lipstick and Peter Pan collars, for her love of daisies, for her blue jeans and sparkly bling, for her dancing from table to table around the Milky Way, and for her love of camping, fishing and crossword puzzles, Leah is best remembered for her deep, limitless love for the people around her.”
Her first husband, Steven’s father, turned 100 this month. Her second husband died in 1995 at age 75.
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