Herbert L. Hutner dies at 99; former chairman of President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts

Times Staff Reports

Herbert L. Hutner, the Los Angeles private investment banker and lawyer who chaired the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts during the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, has died. He was 99.

Hutner, a resident of Holmby Hills, died Dec. 7 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to his wife, Juli.

The purpose of the committee is to advise and consult the board of trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., on the center’s existing and prospective cultural activities.


Hutner chaired the panel from 1982 to 1990 and also was engaged in fund-raising for the center.

In 1988, he hosted an event called “Hollywood Salutes the Kennedy Center Honors.” The gala, which celebrated that year’s Kennedy Center honorees including theatrical maestro George Abbott, actor Jimmy Stewart, comedian Lucille Ball and choreographers Katherine Dunham and Alwin Nikolais, was held in the grand ballroom of the Beverly Hilton and raised more the $2 million for the center.

A native of New York City, Hutner was born Dec. 21, 1908. He graduated from Columbia University in 1928 and earned his law degree, also at Columbia, in 1931. He was admitted to the New York state bar the next year.

In the 1940s, Hutner worked on Wall Street as a partner with Lester Osterman, who would become a prolific Broadway producer and theater owner, in the Osterman & Hutner brokerage partnership.

Over the next 20 years, Hutner was chairman of the boards of several leading manufacturing and engineering firms including Sleight & Hellmuth Inc., Pressed Metals of America, Struthers Wells Corp. and the Platinum Mining Co.

He also served for several years as president of the New England Life Insurance Co.

Hutner’s life changed in the 1960s when he wed the often-married actress Zsa Zsa Gabor. It was Hutner’s second marriage and Gabor’s fourth.


The couple moved to Los Angeles and from then on his business endeavors were focused on investment banking. The marriage to Gabor ended in divorce in 1966 after nearly four years.

In 1969, Hutner married Juli Reding, a former actress. She survives him, as do his son Jeffrey J. Hutner, daughter Lynn M. Collwell and stepson Christopher D. Taylor. He also is survived by five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Through his long life in Los Angeles, Hutner was devoted to philanthropic missions, donating to the Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA and the Young Musicians Foundation. He also was a founder of the Music Center of Los Angeles.

“Herb was one of the kindest, most thoughtful and most enjoyable friends I ever have known,” said Tom Johnson, a former publisher of The Times and former chairman and chief executive of CNN.

“He cared, and cared deeply, about Juli, his family, his friends, and the many causes he quietly supported with his philanthropy.”

Instead of flowers, the family has requested that donations in his name be made to either the Young Musicians Foundation, 195 South Beverly Drive, Suite 414, Beverly Hills, CA 90212, or the Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA for Dr. Stephen Schwartz Research, 800 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90024.