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Broadway impresario’s daughter

From a Times Staff Writer

Patricia Ziegfeld Stephenson, the daughter of legendary Broadway impresario Florenz Ziegfeld, died of congestive heart failure April 11 at her home in Los Angeles. She was 91.

Stephenson was born Oct. 23, 1916, in New York City, where her father was famous for mounting the musical stage spectaculars known as the Ziegfeld Follies. Her mother was actress Billie Burke, who would be most remembered for her portrayal of Glinda the Good Witch of the North in the 1939 movie classic “The Wizard of Oz.”

She was their only child and grew up on an estate in Hastings-on-Hudson, north of New York City, and in Palm Beach, Fla., with a menagerie that included an elephant named Ziggy.

When her father died in 1932, she moved with her mother to California. She attended UCLA for a while before trying newspaper and radio writing and acting.

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In 1939, she married William Stephenson, an architect whom she met when he was working as a dance instructor at the Beverly Hills Hotel. He designed homes for many of Hollywood’s leading figures, including the all-electric showcase home that General Electric built for Ronald and Nancy Reagan in Pacific Palisades.

William Stephenson died in October. Patricia is survived by their three daughters, Cecilia Duncan, Florenz Crossley and Susan Plemons; a son, W. Robert Stephenson Jr.; nine grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

She helped preserve her father’s legacy in the 1963 book “The Ziegfelds’ Girl: Confessions of an Abnormally Happy Childhood,” a warm and often hilarious autobiography. She also contributed an introduction to a well-regarded biography of her father, “The Ziegfeld Touch: The Life and Times of Florenz Ziegfeld Jr.,” written by distant cousins Richard and Paulette Ziegfeld.

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news.obits@latimes.com


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