Trustee emeritus Leon Kaplan dies
Trustee emeritus Leon Kaplan died July 18 at the age of 95. President Colin Diver described him as “a wonderfully warm, intelligent, and witty man” and “a staunch friend of the college.” Fellow emeritus trustee Ernie Bonyhadi ’48 said that Kaplan was charming and unassuming, and that he was “short in stature but towering in the entertainment law community.”
Kaplan, a leading Los Angeles entertainment lawyer whose clients included Ava Gardner, Gene Kelly, former Reed trustee Burt Lancaster, and the Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox studios, continued to represent select clients even after his retirement.
He served on the Reed board of trustees from 1972 to 1992 and acted as a role model for others in his support of the college. He was a lifetime member of the Griffin Society and established the Richard B. Kaplan Memorial Scholarship in honor of his son Richard ’64, who preceded him in death. During his time on the board Kaplan arranged seminars on filmmaking led by Burt Lancaster for Reed College students.
Born in New York City on March 27, 1908, Kaplan attended high school in Venice, California. He then attend UCLA and later the University of Southern California, where he received his A.B. in 1930 and LL.B. in 1932. He retired as a partner in the law firm of Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp. He is a past trustee for the Beverly Hills Bar Association, past president and trustee for the Los Angeles Copyright Society, and past chairman of the entertainment section of the American Bar Association.
He is survived by his wife, Gene, and his son, Robert.