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Goldman Gift Celebrates Love, Art, and Emerson

Tony and Janet Goldman in an undated photo. 

Janet and Tony Goldman made a life together based on creativity.

That life together started at Emerson, when the two met as Class of ’65 theater majors. Tony became captain of the basketball team and Janet was a cheerleader. After four years on the Emerson stage, they left to embark on careers that put their artistry and innovation in the spotlight in different ways: Tony as a visionary property developer, Janet as the founder of the renowned jewelry company Fragments.

Sadly, Tony Goldman passed away in 2012. It was the couple’s creative individuality that awakened at College and prompted Janet to make a meaningful donation to Emerson. She is now helping a future generation of talented and committed actors share their gifts with a transformational gift of her own to support Performing Arts students with an ongoing scholarship fund.

“Wanting to be a performer isn’t an easy road to take in life, and a little help will go a long way,” said Janet. “We wanted to give students the opportunity we had, because you can utilize your theater experience in all facets of life.”  

Tony had a soft spot for Emerson College, because that was where he and Janet found each other, she said. He loved serving on the College’s Board of Trustees and was influential in developing Emerson Los Angeles’s award-winning campus on Sunset Boulevard. In honor of Tony’s vision and Janet’s gift, the building’s main outdoor space will be named the “Janet and Tony Goldman Terrace on Sunset,” a meeting place for like minds.

“The Terrace on Sunset serves as a tribute to our alma mater, where we met and fell in love,” Janet wrote in remarks shared at the annual Trustees’ meeting earlier this month in LA, where the gift was announced. “I hope it will set the stage for those who follow to find their own love story and make magic and discovery happen here at Emerson.”

Melia Bensussen, chair of the Performing Arts Department, said in order for Emerson’s program to remain a leader in theater education, it needs to include a wide variety of voices from all cultural, racial, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Goldman’s gift not only provides opportunities for individual students, but it also impacts the theater world on a larger scale, Bensussen said.

“The art of theater is fundamentally the art of discourse of conversation, and the conversation only flourishes with a multiplicity of voices, and a scholarship to a college like this with a top training program that may not be accessible to all—this gift simply expands the dialogue in every way,” she said.

Remembering the Renaissance Man

Tony Goldman wasn’t just in the real estate business, he was in the “placemaking business,” said his close friend Steve Samuels, president and CEO of Samuels and Associates, and co-vice chair of the Emerson Board of Trustees.

He would see a neighborhood’s potential before it became hip and was able to attract artists, restaurants, and eclectic businesses, Samuels said. He did it in New York’s SoHo, he did it in Miami Beach, he did it in Philadelphia’s Center City, and, most recently, he did it in Miami’s Wynwood Art District, which he turned from a grimy warehouse district into an artists’ haven in the middle of a recession, Samuels said.

As a theater major, Tony was a “renaissance man” who understood music, art, literature, and people, as well as real estate, Samuels said.

“He put them all together and it formed this very unique personality that always looked at things outside the box,” Samuels said. “It’s like he spun the entire box around the other way, and you’re looking at the back of something and thinking, ‘Oh, I never thought about that.’”

Tony and Janet shared that spirit of creativity and enthusiasm, said Samuels.

“The two of them were a perfect pair,” he said.

Janet said she has wonderful memories of her time at Emerson, starting with the moment she met Tony during freshman orientation.

“There’s something in your spirit that connects a kind of education, and theater, and performance, and we found it there,” she said.

Thanks to Janet Goldman’s gift, more talented students will have the chance to make their dreams come true.

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