In Memoriam: Jonathan Dolgen

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Jonathan Dolgen, longtime entertainment industry executive and former CalArts trustee, passed away on Monday, Oct. 9. He was 78.

Born in 1945 in Queens, New York, Dolgen attended Cornell and New York University before cutting his teeth as Wall Street lawyer. Throughout his career, Dolgen gained a reputation for uncompromising dealmaking and a razor wit, earning leadership positions at major studios and media companies. He served as president of Columbia Pictures’ film unit and head of television at 20th Century Fox, and later chairman and CEO of Viacom Entertainment Group.

In addition to brokering major Hollywood deals, Dolgen was known for his philanthropy, receiving a Simon Wiesenthal Humanitarian Award and the UCLA Neurosurgery Courage Award. He was also a notable benefactor of CalArts for more than 25 years, and joined the Institute’s board of trustees in 2015. 

Board of Trustees Chair Charmaine Jefferson and President Ravi Rajan shared the following remembrance in a joint statement to the CalArts community: 

Despite his complicated schedule as an industry executive, he could be counted on to actively participate in Board activities, and throughout his many years of service, Jonathan never hesitated to pick up the phone and lend his counsel to CalArts’ current and past presidents and trustees. 

“Jonathan combined overpowering brilliance with a dominating  personality,” noted former CalArts President Steven Lavine in an email. “It has been CalArts’ good fortune to attract wonderful trustees like Jonathan to the Board.”

Dolgen is survived by his wife Susan, daughters Tamar and Lauren, his brother David, son-in-law Sergio Bicas, and three grandchildren.

Read more about Dolgen’s career at Deadline.

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PUBLISHED BY Taya Zoormandan

As digital content and social media producer, Taya enjoys lifting up the stories and accomplishments of CalArts' students, alums, and faculty. She fancies herself a visual artist but is really more of an overzealous collector of art supplies.

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