Dead, Leonore Cohn Annenberg on March 12, 2009 at the age of 91, also known as Lee Annenberg, she was an American businesswoman, government official, and philanthropist, noted for serving as Chief of Protocol of the United States from 1981 to 1982.
Born into a Jewish familyin New York City on February 20, 1918, to Maxwell and Clara Cohn. Nicknamed “Lee”, her father operated a textile business.
She was seven years old when her mother died.
She and her younger sister were raised in Fremont Place, an upper-class neighbourhood of Los Angeles, by her uncle Harry Cohn, the founder of Columbia Pictures.
The Annenbergs contributed substantially to Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign, and upon Reagan’s election in 1981, Lee Annenberg was named as Chief of Protocol of the United States.
This position placed her in charge of advising the President, Vice President, and Secretary of State on matters dealing with diplomatic protocol, and formally welcoming foreign dignitaries upon their arrival to the United States.
Annenberg oversaw a staff of 60 who worked on myriad details, ranging from the choice of the state gifts that will be given to the guest, to the bathrooms the foreign delegation may visit.
She said of her position, “It’s all about making your guests feel respected and welcome”.
Born into wealth, married to men with liquor and publishing empires, Mrs. Annenberg lived on a grand scale, with baronial estates, a ranch, a ski lodge and art-filled apartments.
Her friends, who called her Lee, were presidents, movie stars, royalty and the crème of society.
In a life devoted to charity, Mrs. Annenberg, a porcelain-skinned, meringue-blond hostess, entertained lavishly — and might have never had a real job had it not been for her old friend Ronnie. Mrs. Annenberg inherited $2 billion, succeeded her husband as chairman and president of the foundation, became a trustee emeritus of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and was on the boards of the New York Metropolitan Opera, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Orchestra and other organizations.
On Mr. Annenberg’s death in 2002, the $1 billion Annenberg art collection was given to the Metropolitan Museum.
She received many awards, but was especially pleased in 2004 when Queen Elizabeth II named her an honorary Commander of the British Empire for contributions to British-American relations.
There was a back story. In 1969, when President Richard M. Nixon named her husband ambassador to Britain, the British press was generally unreceptive, calling him a pompous businessman with political connections and no diplomatic skills.
Nixon retreated from the Watergate scandal to Sunnylands.
Queen Elizabeth came for lunch, and Prince Charles was an occasional weekender.
Frank and Barbara Sinatra were married there. Regular guests included Gerald and Betty Ford, Gregory and Veronique Peck, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Sammy Davis Jr. Ronald and Nancy Reagan often spent New Year’s there.
In addition, nine public elementary schools in five states will each receive grants of $50,000 and up from the Leonore Annenberg School Fund for
Children, which provide educational resources to underfunded schools in urban and rural communities.
The 2015 grants, totalling more than $500,000, will go to schools in Florida, New York, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia for resources such as interactive whiteboards, playground equipment and programs to increase proficiency in math and science.