Samuel Bronfman, was a Canadian businessman and philanthropist. He founded Distillers Corporation Limited, is a member of the Canadian Jewish Bronfman family. Samuel Bronfman was born in Otaci, Soroksky Uyezd, Bessarabia part of the Russian Empire, one of eight children of Mindel and Yechiel Bronfman, he and his parents were Jewish refugees of Czarist Russia's anti-Semitic pogroms, who migrated to Wapella, Saskatchewan. They soon moved to Manitoba. A wealthy family, they were accompanied by two servants. Soon Yechiel learned that tobacco farming, which had made him a wealthy man in his homeland, was incompatible with the cold Canadian climate of that region. Yechiel was forced to work as a laborer for the Canadian Northern Railway, after a short time moved to a better job in a sawmill. Yechiel and his sons started making a good living selling firewood and began a trade in frozen whitefish to earn a winter income, they turned to trading horses, a venture through which they became involved in the hotel and bar business.
In 1903, the family bought a hotel business, Samuel, noting that much of the profit was in alcoholic beverages, set up shop as a liquor distributor. He founded the Distillers Corporation in Montreal in 1924, specializing in cheap whisky, concurrently taking advantage of the U. S. prohibition on alcoholic beverages. The Bronfmans sold liquor to the northern cities of the U. S. such as Boston, New York City and Chicago during the Prohibition era, while operating from the perimeters of Montreal, Quebec where alcohol production was legal. On June 21, 1922, Bronfman married Saidye Rosner, with whom he had four children: Aileen Mindel "Minda" Bronfman de Gunzburg, Phyllis Lambert, Edgar Miles Bronfman, Charles Rosner Bronfman. Bronfman's Distillers Corporation acquired Joseph E. Seagram & Sons of Waterloo, from the heirs of Joseph Seagram in 1928. Bronfman built an empire based on the appeal of brand names developed by Seagram—including Calvert and Seven Crown—to higher-level consumers, his sales were boosted during the United States' abortive experiment with prohibition, he was able to do so while staying within the confines of both Canadian law, where prohibition laws had been repealed, American law.
His renamed company, Seagram Co. Ltd. became an international distributor of alcoholic beverages, a diversified conglomerate which included an entertainment branch. Because of changes to US tax law in the Lyndon Johnson administration, it became advantageous for Bronfman to purchase an oil company, which he did with the purchase of Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company in 1963 for $50 million. In 1980, the Bronfman heirs sold the Texas Pacific Oil holdings to Sun Oil Co. for $2.3 billion. The Seagram assets have since been acquired by other companies, notably The Coca-Cola Company and Pernod Ricard. In 1952, he established The Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Family Foundation, one of Canada's major private granting foundations. Bronfman was President of the Canadian Jewish Congress from 1939 to 1962, he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1967. In 1971, he helped to establish the Bronfman Building at McGill University, which houses the Desautels Faculty of Management; the building was named in his honour as appreciation for his donation to the university.
The Bronfman family has continued its support of the university. The Bronfman Archaeology Wing of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Israel, is named for Bronfman and his wife; the Samuel Bronfman Chair in Management was established at McGill University in January 1942. The current holder is Nancy J. Adler, a professor of organizational behavior in the Desautels Faculty of Management. Mordecai Richler's 1989 novel Solomon Gursky Was Here is based on the life of Samuel Bronfman. History of the Jews in Canada Christopher G. Curtis, "Bronfman Family", The Canadian Encyclopedia: Year 2000 Edition - ISBN 0-7710-2099-6 Michael R. Marrus, Mr. Sam: The Life and Times of Samuel Bronfman - ISBN 0-87451-571-8 Peter C. Newman, Bronfman Dynasty: The Rothschilds of the New World ISBN 0-7710-6758-5 Seagram Museum collection at Hagley Museum and Library Seagram Museum Collection Brock University Library Digital Repository
Coco was a 1969 Broadway musical with a book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by André Previn, inspired by the life of Coco Chanel. It starred Katharine Hepburn in her only stage musical. Theatre producer Frederick Brisson had optioned Chanel's life for his wife Rosalind Russell, but Russell had developed acute arthritis, making it difficult for her to function; that meant another leading lady with star quality needed to be found. Irene Selznick suggested Katharine Hepburn, who scoffed at the idea of appearing in a musical but agreed to work with former MGM vocal coach Roger Edens for ten days. Following an audition in Selznick's suite at The Pierre Hotel, Hepburn felt comfortable enough to mull the proposition, was further convinced to accept the offer after meeting Chanel. Lerner had assured the designer his book would cover only the early years of her life and career, she was distressed when the plan was jettisoned to accommodate the older star; the fictionalized book and score underwent massive revisions and were far from complete when Hepburn concluded filming on The Madwoman of Chaillot, at which time she was scheduled to begin work on the show, Coco was postponed a season while its creators worked on it.
The six-week rehearsal period began in September 1969. Cecil Beaton's set proved to be a complicated piece of machinery that malfunctioned and was difficult for the cast to maneuver, the final scene required a troublesome coordination of mirrors, platforms and flashing lights. Hepburn insisted the theater's thermostat be set at 60 degrees and the exterior doors left open, most of the cast became ill due to the unusually cold fall weather. After 40 previews, the Broadway production opened on December 18, 1969 at the Mark Hellinger Theatre, where it ran for 329 performances. Directed by Michael Benthall and choreographed by Michael Bennett, the cast included René Auberjonois, George Rose, Michael Allinson, David Holliday, Bob Avian, Jon Cypher, Suzanne Rogers, Graciela Daniele, Ann Reinking, Gale Dixon. Danielle Darrieux replaced Hepburn eight months into the run, but without the drawing power of a major star the poorly reviewed show closed two months later. Hepburn was scheduled to star in a West End production, but when the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane proved to be unavailable she refused to consider other venues and the project was abandoned.
She headed the cast of the US national tour, which opened in Cleveland on January 11, 1971, the day after Chanel's death, which the star acknowledged at the final curtain call. She continued with the tour through June, when it ended at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. Although reviews in most cities were mediocre, it played to sold-out houses everywhere. Despite its financial success, executives at Paramount Pictures, which had financed the original Broadway production - at $900,000, the most expensive show in Broadway history at the time - in exchange for the cast album and film rights, opted not to transfer Coco to the big screen. Coco was produced as a staged concert by 42nd Street Moon in San Francisco in April and May 2008, starring Andrea Marcovicci in the title role; the production played for a total of 16 performances. It was choreographed by Jayne Zaban. Marcovicci revisited the role in September 2010 for the show's first New York revival as part of the York Theatre Company's Musicals in Mufti.
Coco was presented in London's Sadler's Wells, in 2011, as part of the Lost Musicals project, aka The Lost Musicals Charitable Trust, 1069268. Ian Marshall Fisher directed, Chris Walker, Music Director. Coco, the title role, was played by Sara Kestelman and cast included Edward Petherbridge. Set between early autumn of 1953 and late spring of 1954, fashion designer Coco Chanel, after fifteen years of retirement, decides to return to the world of haute couture and reopen her Paris salon. With her new collection derided by the critics, she faces bankruptcy until buyers from four major American department stores - Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale's, Best & Company, Ohrbach's - place orders with her, she becomes involved with the love life of one of her models, flashbacks utilizing filmed sequences recall her own past romantic flings. Adding humor to the proceedings is a stereotypical rude gay designer who tries to impede Chanel's success; the finale is a fashion show featuring actual Chanel designs from 1918 to 1959.
A cast recording was released by Paramount Records in 1970. It was reissued on CD by MCA Records in 1997. A Remarkable Woman: A Biography of Katharine Hepburn by Anne Edwards, published by William Morrow and Company, pages 357-372 Internet Broadway Database listing Katharine Hepburn papers -- Letter from Katharine Hepburn about use of bad language in Coco