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Michael Cohen dies at 79; co-founder of California fashion brand Michael Stars

Michael Cohen, co-founder of California fashion brand Michael Stars, dies in Manhattan Beach at age 79

Michael Cohen, co-founder of the California fashion brand Michael Stars, died Friday at his Manhattan Beach home. He was 79.

The cause was prostate cancer, brand publicist Jennifer Cornwall Rojas said.

Cohen and Suzanne Lerner co-founded Michael Stars in 1986 as a brand dedicated to creating the perfect T-shirt. Over the next few decades, the brand evolved from being about "the Original Tee" into a collection of fashion for women and men synonymous with the California lifestyle.

Cohen was born Oct. 16, 1935, in Cape Town, South Africa, the son of Abraham and Joyce Cohen. He graduated from the University of Cape Town and by age 21 had begun his career in the apparel industry, founding the South African import-export fashion agency Bernstein & Cohen. In 1977, he moved to the United States, where he met and married Lerner.

Passionate about human rights and education, Cohen extended his philanthropic endeavors beyond Manhattan Beach, where he had lived since 1977. In 2005, he and Lerner launched the Michael Stars Foundation to support various causes.

Cohen's hobbies included playing the bongos and reading with his dog, Simba. He and Lerner also made annual visits to the Greek island of Mykonos, where they built a second home.

In addition to his wife, Cohen is survived by his children, Simon and Lisa; brothers Stuart and Imre; sister Yvonne; and two grandchildren.

trevell.anderson@latimes.com

Twitter: @TrevellAnderson

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