A Donation That Created Safe Spaces For Doctors And Patients

Jane and Marc Nathanson funded Meditation rooms at Cedars Sinai Hospital, where families can rest and meet with doctors at difficult times. UPDATED WITH A GALLERY OF GALA PHOTOS AT THE END

Beverly Hills Mayor John Mirisch presents the Humanitarian Award to Marc and Jane Nathanson at the Women's Guild Cedars Sinai Gala.

Before the presentation of the Humanitarian Award at the Women’s Guild Cedars Sinai gala May 2nd at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, the group’s president, Shelley Cooper, expressed her personal thanks to this year’s recipients, philanthropists Jane and Marc Nathanson.

Cooper recalled that while huddling with doctors at the sprawling hospital in west Los Angeles during a personal family medical crisis, she was grateful there was a quiet, private place – a Meditation Room – where they could talk with the medical team. Then she noticed this space had been made possible by a donation from the Jane and Marc Nathanson Foundation.

In accepting, Jane Nathanson said she was especially moved by Cooper’s recollection. “That is exactly the reaction Marc and I hoped to accomplish by creating safe spaces in the hospital, where one could process good or bad news, or just relax for a few moments when you think the world is coming to an end.”

Nathanson, with a fortune the Los Angeles Business Journal estimated in 2018 at $1.7 billion (making him the 40th richest person in L.A.), said he and his wife of 52 years seek out “organizations and causes that aren’t necessarily that popular but need financial support.”

“At Cedars,” he added in a video before the formal presentation, “we thought it would be very worthwhile to maintain Meditation rooms on every floor in the critical care unit where “when people had an illness and a family needed to talk to a doctor, that there were places where they could go and have privacy and discussions with the physician.”

In presenting the award, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti praised the impact of their generosity.

A big screen image of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti praising Jane and Marc Nathanson

“We know in some of the toughest moments in life,” said Garcetti, “when health emergencies can seem like a giant long sentence, those rooms allow us to publish life, to have a comma, a pause, a period to end a thought, an explanation to raising a question about what comes next.”

The Mayor said the Nathanson’s are “passionate about everything from health care to the arts,” and have had “a tremendous impact across this city and across the world.”

Arthur Ochoa, senior VP, Advancement, for Cedars Sinai, wrote in the evening’s program that the Nathanson’s “vision and vitality have advanced and strengthened many arenas including healthcare, international relations, mental health, the environment, politics, communications and education.”

Nathanson’s fortune primarily comes from his development of Falcon Communications, one of the first independent cable systems in Southern California, which was sold in 1999 for $3.7 billion. He is now Chairman of Mapleton Investments and other companies in which it has invested.

Nathanson has also made giving back part of his job. He said they see philanthropy as “something of a duty.” That has included a $50 million gift in 2015 to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, funding for the Nathanson Family Resilience Center at UCLA (which assists veterans and families with patients in the Neuroscience Psychiatric Institute), and investments in waterless urinals, now in use around the world.

After the donation to LACMA, it was able to commission a Jeff Koon’s sculpture. The Nathanson’s, who are extensive art collectors, are big fans of Koons, and at the BH gala, each attendee took home a reproduction of Koons’ “Balloon Dog.” An original sold in 2013 for $58 million.

The reproduction of Jeff Koons' "Balloon Dog" gifted to everyone at the gala

The Nathanson’s have also served on numerous boards, and been involved in public service. Marc Nathanson was Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (part of the U.S. Information Agency) from 1995 until 2002, and helped shape the U.S. public response to the 9/11 attacks.

Jane has a background in mental health and psychology. She is a licensed marriage, family and child psychologist, and served on the California state Board of Behavioral Sciences.

Joining in the presentation, Beverly Hills Mayor John Mirisch (whose dynamic mother Wendy Goldberg was one of the Gala chairs) said the honor for the Nathanson’s was well deserved.

Wendy Goldberg, who chaired the gala with Lorette Gross and Lauren Segal, is one of the driving forces behind the Women’s Guild, which for 60 years has supported the world class medical institution with support for healing, research and education. The group has raised well over $50 million over six decades.

The gala was originally scheduled to be held at the Beverly Hills Hotel, but was moved only a few weeks before the event. Shelley Cooper wrote in the program that after the Sultan of Brunei decreed all gays people and anyone who commits adultery will be put to death, “We could not in good conscience hold our Gala in a property he owns.”

Wendy and Leonard Goldberg with daughter Amanda in 2016

Wendy is the wife of award-winning producer Leonard Goldberg, longtime partner of Aaron Spelling (“Charlies Angels,” many more) and currently Executive Producer of CBS’s long running hit drama, “Blue Bloods.”

Wendy and Leonard have been married 47 years. Among her accomplishments, she founded a performing arts summer school in California now entering its third decade. They

have a daughter, Amanda, now an executive, who has authored several hilarious novels, including “Celebutantes.”

The Goldberg’s were honored by Cedars–Sinai in 2012 with the first Hollywood Icon Award recognizing their achievements in film, television and charitable endeavors.

Wendy was previously married to Robert Mirisch, with whom she had two sons, Richard and John, who is now serving his third terms as Mayor of Beverly Hills.

John Mirisch appeared to present a plaque to Jane and Marc Nathanson, and shared a story about how the honor came to be presented.

“I am so glad they agreed to accept it,” added Mirisch, “because in addition to being nice, they are very humble. So, I know my mom did a great job in convincing them to allow themselves to be honored.”

In his acceptance, Marc Nathanson noted that his family has connections to Ceders Sinai dating back 85 years, to when his great uncle Mort Nathanson (who he was named after) headed medicine at what was then known as the Cedars of Lebanon hospital.

Marc Nathanson said he was born at Cedars Sinai, as were all eight of their grandchildren and their son David. Their son Adam is on the Cedars board.

A picture of Jane and Marc Nathanson's family taken in 2011.

Jane Nathanson said the greatest reward for their donation of the Mediation rooms has come from complete strangers.

“We’ve been thrilled to get many letters from people who did not know us,” she explained, “but thanked us for providing a space because it makes a difference.”

A PHOTO GALLERY FROM THE WOMEN'S GUILD CEDARS-SINAI GALA

photo credit: Alex J. Berliner, ABImages, & Tom Neerkin

A.

Honorees Jane and Marc Nathanson with L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

Still glamorous movie and TV star Loni Anderson with her husband, folk singer Bob Flick of The Brothers Four, with dynamic gala co-chair Wendy Goldberg

Former California Gov. Gray Davis and his wife Sharon

Musical stars Wilson Phillips performed several of their top hits at the gala

Stewart & Lynda Resnick provided a gift of wine from their winery for each guest

Marvel Entertainment's Chief Creative Officer Avi Arad with former Paramount President Sherry Lansing, now one of L.A.'s leading philanthropists

Nick Pileggi with Sherry Lansing & husband, legendary director Billy Friedkin

Kevin Nealon was Master of Ceremonies for the gala

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