Beverly Hills clothier to the stars
Monte Factor, a Beverly Hills clothier and arts patron who co-founded the End Hunger Network and a groundbreaking Los Angeles child-care center, died Dec. 5 at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center, his daughter Diane announced. He was 94.
With actor Jeff Bridges and others in the entertainment industry, Factor started the nonprofit End Hunger Network in 1983 to raise awareness of childhood hunger and help end it. He happened to live next door to Ted Danson, another actor involved with the organization, the Toronto Star noted in 1989.
In 1977, Factor and his wife, Betty, established the Mar Vista Family Center near the Mar Vista Gardens housing project to provide low-income families with quality early childhood education. The center came to be regarded as a national model for early childhood development.
The couple were significant supporters of contemporary art in Los Angeles, often trading men’s clothes for artwork. In 1947, they started what became known as Monte Factor/Jerry Rothschild, a men’s clothing business in Beverly Hills. They owned it for more than 40 years.
The Pasadena Museum of Modern Art staged an exhibit in 1973 of 124 works owned by the Factors. The majority of the 55 artists represented were Californians.
Major patrons of Ed Kienholz, the Factors pulled together a small amount of cash, an old boat and some clothes in the 1960s to purchase “The Illegal Operation,” a controversial sculpture by the artist, Monte later recalled. The work is an indictment of back-street abortion and features a floor lamp, a chromium chair and a wood stool surrounded with the instruments of amateur surgery.
The piece by Kienholz is now considered one of the most important postwar sculptures in Los Angeles.
“It was the most deeply affecting work of art I had ever seen,” Monte told The Times in 2008 when he sold it to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for an estimated $1 million. His wife had died in 2006, and he wanted “to leave as much as I can for our four children,” he said.
Monte Montefiore Factor was born in 1917 in St. Louis. He was the son of Nathan Factor, an immigrant from Poland, and the nephew of makeup entrepreneur Max Factor. Monte Factor moved to Los Angeles with his family in the 1920s.
During World War II, he served on a submarine chaser in the Navy and participated in the invasion of Normandy, according to his family.
He attended UCLA but dropped out to earn money to pay for his mother’s cancer treatment, his family said. Eventually, he apprenticed in the clothing business and opened his own store two years after getting married in 1945.
The store was a full-service men’s haberdashery with a barbershop and bookie upstairs. Among his clients were many movie stars and gangsters, his family said, including the Marx brothers and Mickey Cohen.
Factor’s survivors include his four children and five grandchildren.