Bronfman, Edgar Miles, Sr.

Bronfman, Edgar Miles, Sr. 1929–2013, Canadian-American business executive and philanthropist, b. Montreal, grad. McGill Univ. (1951). He was the eldest son of Samuel Bronfman, 1889–1971, an East European Jewish immigrant and liquor magnate who had purchased (1928) Joseph E. Seagram & Sons and expanded in the United States after Prohibition. Edgar Bronfman was made head of the U.S. subsidiary in 1953, and became a U.S. citizen in 1959. On his father's death (1971), he became Seagram's chief executive. Bronfman subsequently diversified the company; in 1981 the unsuccessful attempt to purchase the Conoco oil and gas company led to a one-quarter share in the DuPont company. Seagram's success made Bronfman a billionaire, and after retiring (1994) he continued his philanthropic work, which was devoted mainly to various Jewish causes and groups, often with an educational focus. As president (1971–2007) of the World Jewish Congress, he encouraged the United States to press the Soviet Union to allow Jews to emigrate, and helped secure $1.25 billion from Swiss banks for restitution to Holocaust victims.

See his memoirs, The Making of a Jew (1996) and Good Spirits: The Making of a Businessman (1998) and his The Third Act (2002, with C. Whitney) and Hope Not Fear (2008, with B. Zasloff).

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