Roz Wyman, city’s youngest council member who helped bring Dodgers to L.A., dies at 92

Rosalind Wyman
Rosalind Wyman, seen in 2016, was elected to the L.A. City Council at age 22 in 1953.
(Los Angeles Times)

Rosalind Wyman, the youngest person ever elected to the Los Angeles City Council, at age 22 in 1953, was best known for keeping an unusual campaign promise — vowing to bring Major League Baseball to Los Angeles.

It took months of negotiations with the Dodgers’ mercurial owner, Walter O’Malley, before he finally agreed to uproot the team from Brooklyn and head to L.A., the opening chapter in what would become the westward migration of professional sports teams.

For the record:

8:14 p.m. Oct. 27, 2022A previous version of this story said Sen. Dianne Feinstein recalled meeting Roz Wyman when the young councilwoman was stumping for Robert Kennedy’s presidential campaign. Feinstein’s statement said she met Wyman in 1984, 16 years after Kennedy was assassinated.

6:13 p.m. Oct. 27, 2022A previous version of this story misspelled the last name of Dodgers player Duke Snider as Synder.

“Without Rosalind Wyman, the Dodgers wouldn’t be in Los Angeles, and the stadium would not have been built,” O’Malley’s son and former team owner Peter O’Malley once told The Times.


Wyman died late Wednesday at her home in Bel-Air , her family said in a statement. She was 92.

Oct. 27, 2022

A California political insider and power broker for more than a half-century and only the second woman elected to the City Council, Wyman died late Wednesday at her home in Bel-Air , her family said in a statement. She was 92.

“Roz was a force of nature: breaking down barriers for women in California politics, while forging new ways to bring people together through politics, the arts, and baseball,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “Her leadership helped draw her beloved Dodgers to Los Angeles — and my Giants to San Francisco — so that California families could experience the thrill of America’s pastime.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein recalled with fondness her long association with Wyman, who would go on to become her Senate campaign co-chair.

“I met Roz in 1984 when I was mayor of San Francisco and Roz was chair of the Democratic National Convention — the first woman to hold that position,” Feinstein said in a statement. “We became close friends, a bond that would only grow over the years….

“Of course if there was one thing Roz was more passionate about than Democratic politics, it was her hometown of Los Angeles and her beloved Dodgers,” Feinstein said.

Wyman served on the council for a dozen years, and almost from the start had the Dodgers on her mind.

“I wanted L.A. to be major league in everything — the arts, music and sports,” Wyman told Los Angeles magazine in 2010. “I put in a resolution saying we should try to bring in a big-league team.”

Walter Francis O’Malley, the man who brought the Dodgers to Los Angeles, died Thursday, of congestive heart failure.

Aug. 10, 1979

When she and another council member wrote to then-Dodger President O’Malley, Peter’s father, seeking an appointment in 1955 to discuss bringing the team west from Brooklyn, he curtly turned them down.

“He wrote back that he was a New Yorker and he preferred to stay in New York,” Wyman said. “But that changed, and it’s proven to be one of the best things that ever happened to Los Angeles.”

Two years later, O’Malley was bogged down in negotiations over a new stadium in Brooklyn when he decided to follow up on the letter by sending an emissary to Los Angeles and then paying a visit himself.


While on a helicopter tour of the city, Wyman later recalled, O’Malley looked down on Chavez Ravine, where a Latino community had been bulldozed in favor of public housing, and declared that it would be a good site for a stadium.

A 2020 book examines the lives forever changed by the building of Dodger Stadium, which would be brought back into focus with the rise of Fernando Valenzuela.

May 6, 2021

Los Angeles residents had already voted down a proposal to construct public housing there, and building a stadium on the site was highly controversial. Getting a proposal on the ballot required political maneuvering by Wyman.

To ease O’Malley’s concerns that the Dodgers would be the only ball club on the West Coast and that teams would balk at traveling so far just to play one team, Wyman helped convince Horace Stoneham, the owner of the New York Giants, that better times awaited his team in San Francisco. The Giants moved west just as the Dodgers arrived in L.A. Two years later, Wyman was instrumental in getting the Lakers, then based in Minneapolis, to move to L.A.

At one point during the Dodger negotiations, then-Mayor Norris Poulson ordered Wyman to call O’Malley to ascertain if he was really committed to moving to L.A. or if he was just using the city as leverage to get New York to build him a new stadium.

“Poulson handed me the phone,” she later recalled, “and O’Malley said, ‘I can’t thank you enough for everything you have done.’ I finally asked, ‘Are you coming?’”

His answer was not what she wanted to hear: “I’m not sure.”

Since nobody asked how O’Malley responded, she let the moment pass, and the council approved a measure to place a referendum on the ballot that would allow the Dodgers to use Chavez Ravine for the team’s stadium. In the end, voters approved the referendum in 1958, but by only a slim majority.

The Dodgers arrived in L.A. in 1958 and played their first four seasons at the Memorial Coliseum as Dodger Stadium was being built. The team boasted stars such as Duke Snider, PeeWee Reese and Sandy Koufax and a soon-to-be-famous broadcaster named Vin Scully, who Wyman came to believe helped L.A. fall in love with baseball.

“What this lady did for baseball in this city, they should erect a monument to her,” former Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda told The Times in 2000.

Tommy Lasorda, who won two World Series championships in 20 years as Dodgers manager, died Thursday night of a heart attack after a long illness.

Jan. 8, 2021

Before opening day, O’Malley let Wyman pick out eight choice seats behind the dugout. Her husband’s law firm paid for the tickets, which were often used by clients.

When her husband, Eugene Wyman, a former chairman of the California Democratic Party, died suddenly of a heart attack at 48 in 1973, his firm took custody of the tickets.

Roz, as she was often called, eventually sued and — 18 years later — got the tickets back with the help of her eldest son, Robert, by then an attorney himself. She remained a season ticket holder for life. When O’Malley died, he left Wyman one of the few master keys that unlocked every door at the stadium.

Before Wyman, the only other woman to serve on the City Council was Estelle Lawton Lindsey, who was elected in 1915.

Wyman was young — just a year older than the era’s minimum voting age — when she entered the male-dominated world of the council as the panel’s first Jewish woman.

Centers of power like the exclusive Jonathan Club, which did not allow women or Jewish people, were off-limits to her.

“I had a lot of problems,” Wyman recalled in 1999. “Most of the people at City Hall were old enough to be my father or grandfather. You have to prove yourself to them and get along.”

While on the council, a 29-year-old Wyman helped bring the 1960 Democratic National Convention to Los Angeles and then staged a fundraiser for President Kennedy at the home of actors Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis.

When the gathering needed spillover space, Wyman talked a next-door neighbor — a Republican, no less — into letting them use his house and then asked to knock down the wall between the backyards.

“It was a mind-boggling experience,” said Leigh, who performed at the event with her husband as well as Frank Sinatra, in a 2000 Times interview.

Seeking a fourth council term in 1965, Wyman was soundly defeated by Edmund D. Edelman.

Lingering controversy over the deal that had been cut with the Dodgers — long criticized as overly generous to the team — and Wyman’s contentious relationship with Mayor Sam Yorty may have helped end her career as an elected official.

As a young, single woman, she had been the darling of the council, she later said, but Wyman felt she have lost some of her luster as a married woman with a wealthy husband and a Bel-Air mansion. She had married in 1954.

“I’d hate to think I was washed up at 35,” she told The Times in 1965.

Far from it.

She launched a second, and in some ways even more influential, political career as a fundraiser and power broker for the state and national Democratic Party.

The Wymans were a “power couple” whose imaginative political fundraisers and Sunday night dinners at their Bel-Air home became part of the folklore of American politics. Washington politicians were known to reschedule their flights to take a seat at the table with power players from Hollywood.

When her husband died, leaving her a widow at 42 with three children between the ages of 10 and 15, she managed to remain a stalwart of Democratic politics. She never remarried.

In 1973, Wyman presided over the first $1-million fundraiser for the Democratic House and Senate Campaign Committee in Washington, D.C. She chaired the 1984 Democratic National Convention and, in the 1990s, oversaw Los Angeles-area fundraisers for President Clinton and other national political figures. Since 1952, she had been a delegate at every Democratic Nation Convention until the pandemic ruined her streak in 2020.

At the 1984 convention she began a friendship with Dianne Feinstein and went on to chair the California Democrat’s successful campaigns for the U.S. Senate.

“I turn to her for advice,” Feinstein, who was a frequent houseguest, told The Times in 2000. “We are very close. … There isn’t anything that we don’t talk about.”

Wyman also campaigned for Pelosi, who became the first woman to serve as speaker of the House, in 2007.

“She is an enabler for so many of the rest of us to do things,” Pelosi said. “The confidence she had was something she projected onto others.”

Rosalind Wiener liked to say she was “born a Democrat” on Oct. 4, 1930, in Los Angeles, the second of two children of Oscar and Sarah Wiener.

Her mother studied at night to be a pharmacist so that she could help her husband run the small drugstore they owned at 9th Street and Western Avenue in Los Angeles. Both parents were politically active.

Since two of Wyman’s uncles played semi-pro baseball, she became interested in the sport at a young age.

At USC, she led a Democratic club along with Jesse Unruh, future speaker of the state Assembly.

Even before earning a bachelor’s degree in public administration from USC in 1952, Wyman served on a committee that tried but failed to find a City Council candidate to represent the Westside.

“Everybody turned to me at the end and said, ‘Why don’t you run?’” Wyman later recalled.

During her door-to-door primary campaign, she handed out bars of soap with cards saying “Let’s Clean Up the City.” Her parents’ modest home served as campaign headquarters.

“I was living with my parents, and we had no money for a campaign,” Wyman said. She tried to knock on doors on Monday nights since that was when the hit TV show “I Love Lucy” aired and she figured people would be home.

Two years after her husband died, Wyman tried to win back her council seat in 1975 but narrowly lost to Zev Yaroslavsky. A Times article noted that she continued to face voter resentment over “the Chavez Ravine giveaway” and the problems of density and traffic congestion caused by Westside high-rises built while she was on the council.

Away from politics, she spent two years as a Columbia Pictures executive in the late 1960s and ran a production company, Tel-It Productions, in the early 1970s. From 1977-81, she served as chief executive of the Producers Guild of America. In 2015 Wyman was appointed to the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.

When asked in an interview to name her hobby, Wyman had a ready response: “The party.”

Wyman is survived by her three children, Betty Lynn, Robert and Brad; and three grandchildren, Samantha, Eugene and Oliver.

Nelson is a former Times staff writer. Reich is a former Times staff writer who died in 2008.