|November 20, 1920 – March 27, 1988
|American Theatrical Producer And Impresario
Lee Guber was a renowned American theater impresario, known for his significant contributions to the world of Broadway theatre productions and entertainment venues. Born on November 20, 1920, in Philadelphia, he went on to achieve an impressive career in the entertainment industry, ultimately leaving a lasting impact on American theater.
Throughout his life, Guber produced numerous Broadway theatre productions, showcasing his exceptional skills in bringing captivating stories to the stage. In addition to his work on Broadway, he played a major role in developing a chain of entertainment venues in suburban locations along the East Coast. These locations served as key cultural hubs, hosting iconic performers like Judy Garland, Jack Benny, Sammy Davis Jr., and Perry Como.
Despite Lee Guber’s passing on March 27, 1988, his legacy in American theater remains evident today through the various productions and entertainment venues he developed. His tireless efforts to bring quality theater and entertainment to diverse audiences have truly left a lasting impact on the industry.
Early Life and Education
New York Origins
Lee Guber was born on November 20, 1920, in Philadelphia. Raised alongside future business partner Shelly Gross, their partnership was seeded during their time attending the same high school.
Education at Central High School and Temple University
At Central High School, Lee Guber and Shelly Gross were assigned to sit next to each other in alphabetical order, laying the groundwork for their long-lasting professional collaboration. After completing high school, Guber pursued higher education at Temple University. Here, he majored in sociology, earning both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. Meanwhile, the city of Philadelphia played a crucial role in shaping Guber’s life, as it was here that he developed the foundation for his future career in the world of theater and entertainment.
Rise in Entertainment
Lee Guber was an American theater impresario who gained prominence in the entertainment industry through his exceptional business acumen and passion for theater. His contributions to the world of show business include several successful Broadway theatre productions and the development of numerous entertainment venues in suburban locations along the East Coast.
Notable Broadway Productions
Throughout his career, Guber played a significant role in producing a variety of Broadway shows, leaving an indelible mark on the theater world. One of his major Broadway productions was the revival of The King and I. This production, along with others, showcased Guber’s ability to captivate and entertain audiences through engaging performances.
Expansion to East Coast Venues
Lee Guber’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to embark on an ambitious project: the establishment of a chain of entertainment venues in suburban locations along the East Coast. The aim was to bring Broadway-quality plays and concerts to these areas, making top-tier entertainment more accessible to a wider audience. This endeavor proved to be successful and further solidified Guber’s reputation in the industry.
Collaboration with Shelly Gross
An important element of Guber’s career was his partnership with fellow producer Shelly Gross. Their collaboration yielded numerous successful ventures and theaters, such as the Westbury Music Fair, which showcased talent from various genres, including theater and music. The Guber-Gross duo was a powerful force in the entertainment world, further attesting to Lee Guber’s significant and lasting impact on the industry.
Marriage to Edna Shanis
Lee Guber was married three times during his life. His first marriage was to a woman named Edna Shanis. They had two children together, a son named Zev and a daughter named Carol. The couple eventually parted ways, but the details surrounding their split are not publicly known.
Marriage to Barbara Walters
In December 1963, Lee Guber married renowned TV journalist Barbara Walters, who was then a reporter for NBC. Their marriage lasted 13 years, marking an important period in both of their lives. Although the couple did not have any biological children together, they turned to adoption in order to grow their family.
In 1968, shortly after the birth of their daughter on June 14th, Barbara and Lee adopted Jacqueline Dena Guber. The decision to adopt came after they faced fertility struggles. Over the years, Jacqueline has been primarily known as the daughter of the famous Barbara Walters and theatre impresario Lee Guber. Today, she is a successful businesswoman in her own right. Despite the eventual end of Lee Guber’s marriage to Barbara Walters, their daughter remains a significant part of both of their lives.
Philanthropy and Impact
Support for the Arts
Lee Guber’s commitment to the arts extended beyond his successful career as a theater producer. Throughout his life, he actively supported various cultural initiatives and made significant contributions to the arts community. His philanthropic endeavors left a lasting mark on the arts scene in the United States, particularly on the East Coast.
Guber’s commitment to the arts became evident through his development of a chain of entertainment venues in suburban locations. These venues served as accessible platforms for a diverse range of performances and events, thereby fostering community engagement and appreciation for the arts.
New York State Council on the Arts
As a prominent figure in the arts community, Guber was actively involved with the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA). His association with this organization placed him in a key position to contribute to the growth and development of the arts in the state of New York.
NYSCA supports and funds various artistic programs and initiatives, ranging from theater productions to dance performances, music concerts, and visual arts exhibitions. During Guber’s affiliation with the Council, he was able to help strengthen the foundation of the arts in New York and create opportunities for artists and arts organizations.
His work with NYSCA and other cultural initiatives solidified Lee Guber’s place in the cultural landscape of the United States. His commitment to nurturing artistic talent and making the arts accessible to a wide audience has left a notable impact on the arts community even after his passing, contributing to his enduring legacy.
Death and Legacy
Battle with Brain Cancer
Lee Guber passed away on March 27, 1988, after a courageous battle with brain cancer. Guber’s fight with the disease was difficult, but he remained determined and strong throughout the ordeal. His passing left a void in the American theater and entertainment industry, as he touched many lives and made significant contributions to the field.
In the years following Guber’s death, his work and accomplishments in the theater and entertainment industry continue to be recognized and celebrated. Some of the venues he developed, along with his Broadway productions, have become an integral part of American theater history.
As part of his lasting legacy, Lee Guber’s name is remembered for his innovative approach to entertainment and commitment to bringing a diverse range of performers and productions to audiences. His creative vision and dedication to both Broadway and suburban theater resulted in a long-lasting impact on the world of live performances.
In conclusion, Lee Guber’s life and career remain as a testament to his passion, creativity, and unwavering dedication to the theater industry. His death and the subsequent recognition of his achievements well after his passing exemplify a true lasting legacy, one that continues to inspire future generations within the entertainment world.