The Culture Broker: Franklin D. Murphy and the Making of Los Angeles

The Culture Broker: Franklin D. Murphy and the Making of Los Angeles

The Culture Broker: Franklin D. Murphy and the Making of Los Angeles

The Culture Broker: Franklin D. Murphy and the Making of Los Angeles

Synopsis

Franklin Murphy? It's not a name that is widely known; even during his lifetime the public knew little of him. But for nearly thirty years, Murphy was the dominant figure in the cultural development of Los Angeles. Behind the scenes, Murphy used his role as confidant, family friend, and advisor to the founders and scions of some of America's greatest fortunes--Ahmanson, Rockefeller, Ford, Mellon, and Annenberg--to direct the largesse of the wealthy into cultural institutions of his choosing. In this first full biography of Franklin D. Murphy (1916-994), Margaret Leslie Davis delivers the compelling story of how Murphy, as chancellor of UCLA and later as chief executive of the Times Mirror media empire, was able to influence academia, the media, and cultural foundations to reshape a fundamentally provincial city. The Culture Broker brings to light the influence of L.A.'s powerful families and chronicles the mixed motives behind large public endeavors. Channeling more than one billion dollars into the city's arts and educational infrastructure, Franklin Murphy elevated Los Angeles to a vibrant world-class city positioned for its role in the new era of global trade and cross-cultural arts.

Excerpt

Franklin Murphy? It is not a name that is widely known. in fact, the public knew little of him during his lifetime. He worked behind the scenes as confidant, family friend, and astute adviser to the founders and scions of some of America’s greatest fortunes—Ahmanson, Rockefeller, Ford, Mellon, and Annenberg. He forged close ties to the legendary names of American collecting and philanthropy, and through his association with the wealthy founders of museums and art institutions and their families, he seized a moment that would never occur in American arts again.

Just at the time Los Angeles was establishing a dominant commercial position in the Pacific Rim, Murphy was on the scene as the key figure in the creation and shaping of the city’s modern, cosmopolitan character. in the period between 1960 and 1990, Los Angeles grew from a cultural backwater to a vibrant center for the arts. Dubbed by one historian “the Doge of Los Angeles,” Murphy was the powerful mystery figure at the heart of virtually every new cultural institution in the city.

Los Angeles before 1960 had been a sunny, wayward place—boastful, even, of its disregard for civic responsibility. During the tumultuous era that followed, larger-than-life personalities came on the scene bent on bringing prestige and honor to their much-maligned city. There was Dorothy Chandler, who welcomed Murphy to Los Angeles and gave him his marching orders. He quickly observed her wiles and daring at work, as well as the clout . . .

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