Special to the Times
A. Alan Friedberg, born Abraham Jaffe Friedberg, died at his home on Beacon Hill earlier this month, after a brief illness. He was 91.
A native New Yorker, Mr. Friedberg attended the Ramaz School from which he graduated in 1945 as class valedictorian. He then attended Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School, graduating in 1949 and earning the title of salutatorian. Mr. Friedberg matriculated at Columbia College in 1949 and graduated in three years, receiving his BA degree in 1952 and earning the honors of summa cum laude as well as Phi Beta Kappa. He enrolled at Harvard Law School in 1952 but left to serve in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.
Upon his honorable discharge in 1956, Mr. Friedberg had a wife and infant daughter to support. He worked as assistant theater manager for Sack Theaters in Boston and enjoyed a steady rise through the ranks eventually becoming General Manager. When Sack Theaters, by then known as USA Cinemas, was sold to Loews Theatres, Mr. Friedberg was tapped to serve as Chairman and CEO. He also served as President of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) from 1978 – 1980 and as Chairman from 1980 – 1982 during which time he led the effort against blind bidding – the practice by distributors of selling films to exhibitors without allowing them to actually see them first. Mr. Friedberg retired in 1992.
During his retirement, he served on several boards including Columbia College, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Harvard School of Public Health. He also served as Chairman of the Board of the National Center for Jewish Film at Brandeis University. Having founded the annual Boston Film Festival as well as art film festivals in other cities, Mr. Friedberg was made an Officier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de la Republique Francaise. His contributions to Boston’s cultural scene serve as his enduring legacy.
Mr. Friedberg was the proud and adoring father to Caren Friedberg Hammerman (Hillel Hammerman), David Friedberg (Megan Tainer), Lawrence Friedberg (Phyllis Tankel), his children with his first wife Natalie Cohen (Miller) who predeceased him. He was a devoted husband to his second wife, Dorothea (Niki) Friedberg who also predeceased him, and loving stepfather to Jennifer Contas Monaco (Mark Monaco) and Alysia Contas Macaulay (Angus Macaulay). In addition to his children and stepchildren, Mr. Friedberg was grandfather to twelve, great-grandfather to four and step-grandfather to four. Funeral services will be private. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org or the Anti-Defamation League www.adl.org).