The Odore Cummings Dead at 74
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The Odore Cummings Dead at 74

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Funeral services were held here today for Austrian-born Theodore Cummings, a highly-successful businessman and philanthropist who was named by his friend, President Reagan, as Ambassador to his native land. Cummings died Tuesday from lung cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center at the age of 74. Cummings’ had been close to Reagan for more than 30 years and backed him in his California gubernatorial and Presidential campaigns. Cummings was an honorary co-chairman of the Coalition for Reagan-Bush, the Jewish organization which strongly backed Reagan’s Presidential bid in 1980.

Cummings emigrated to the United States with his widowed mother in 1920, when he was II years old. He started his adult life in America in New York City’s then flourishing Yiddish theater where he worked with such performers as the Adlers, Lee Strasberg and Paul Muni. He later made his fortune in southern California, expanding a grocery into a major retail and supermarket chain which he sold in 1959.


Among his philanthropic activities, he was chairman of the 1975 regional leadership conference for Israel Bonds, served as a trustee of the Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles, and was a founding trustee of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

He founded the Theodore and Suzanne Cummings Humanitarian Award, presented annually to leading members of the American College of Cardiology, and was a co-founder of the Jules Stein Eye Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles.

He was also a founder of the Theodore Cummings Collection of Hebraica and Judaica at UCLA and was the first Jewish trustee at the University of Southern California. In that capacity, Cummings fought the conditions Saudi Arabia attached to a huge grant to the USC.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund