Charles Bronfman

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Charles Bronfman
Born Charles Rosner Bronfman
(1931-06-27) June 27, 1931 (age 83)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Nationality Canadian / American
Dual citizenship
(February 2013)
Alma mater McGill University
Occupation Businessman
Net worth Increase$2.1 billion (September 2014)[1]
Religion Judaism
Spouse(s) --Barbara Baerwald
(dates unknown)
--Andrea "Andy" Brett Morrison
(1982-2006; her death)
--Bonita "Bonnie" Roche
--Rita Mayo
Children with Baerwald:
--Stephen Bronfman
--Ellen Bronfman Hauptman
--Jeremy Cohen
--Pippa Cohen
--Tony Cohen
Parent(s) Samuel Bronfman
Saidye Rosner Bronfman
Relatives Minda de Gunzberg (sister)
Phyllis Lambert (sister)
Edgar Bronfman, Sr. (brother)

Charles Bronfman, PC CC (born June 27, 1931) is a Canadian / American businessman and philanthropist and is a member of the Canadian Jewish Bronfman family. With an estimated net worth of $2 billion (as of 2013), Bronfman was ranked by Forbes as the 14th wealthiest Canadian and 736th in the world.[1]


Bronfman was born in Montreal. He is the son of Samuel Bronfman and Saidye Rosner Bronfman. He has two older sisters, the art patron Baroness Aileen "Minda" Bronfman de Gunzberg, and architecture expert and developer Phyllis Lambert. His older brother, Edgar Bronfman, Sr., was his fellow Co-Chair of Seagrams. Edgar Bronfman, Jr. is Edgar's son. He was educated at Selwyn House School in Montreal, Trinity College School in Port Hope, Ontario, and McGill University. Bronfman said he is Canadian in his heart but wanted to get dual citizenship in order to vote in the United States.[2]


Bronfman held various positions in the family's liquor empire, Seagrams, from 1951 to 2000. Bronfman and his brother, Edgar Bronfman Sr., inherited the Seagram spirits empire in 1971 after the death of their father, Sam Bronfman. Bronfman is a former Co-Chairman of the Seagram Company Ltd. On the demise of the company: “It was a disaster, it is a disaster, it will be a disaster,” he says. “It was a family tragedy.”[2][3]

Bronfman was also well known for his forays into professional sports. He was majority owner of the Montreal Expos franchise in Major League Baseball from the team's formation in 1968 until 1990. In 1982 Bronfman founded the Montreal Concordes in the Canadian Football League, the Concordes being the successor to the original Montreal Alouettes franchise that had folded after the 1981 CFL season. This venture proved far less successful - despite later rebranding the team as the Alouettes, the team folded prior to the start of the 1987 CFL season.

From 1986 to the present, he serves as Chairman of The Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, Inc.[2] He plans to close the foundation in 2016.[4]

From November 1997 until July 2002, Bronfman was the Chairman of the Board of Koor Industries Ltd., one of Israel's largest investment holding companies. He is the co-chairman of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada. From 1999 to 2001, Bronfman was the first Chairman of the United Jewish Communities, the merged North American organization comprising United Jewish Appeal, the Council of Jewish Federations and United Israel Appeal.


He and Michael Steinhardt co-founded Taglit Birthright, a program which provides a free, educational travel experience to Israel for young Jewish adults. Bronfman is one of its principal donors. Since 1999, the program has sent more than 340,000 young Jews from around the world on a 10-day free trip to Israel.[2]

Bronfman is Chairman of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies Inc., a family of charitable foundations operating in Israel, the U.S., and Canada. Bronfman is also responsible for The Charles Bronfman Prize, honoring individuals for their humanitarian contributions. The first winner was Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation founder Jay Feinberg. He also founded the Karev Foundation, which runs educational enrichment classes in outlying areas in collaboration with the Education Ministry in Israel.[5][6]

Bronfman was a founding co-chairman of Historica, producers of the Heritage Minutes series of television shorts. It was at an early meeting of this foundation (originally the CAB Foundation) that he asked the members, "If television can use 30 seconds or 60 seconds to persuade people that Cadillacs or cornflakes are interesting, couldn't we also use that short piece of time to persuade Canadians that their history is interesting? You tell me how to do it, and I'll fund it." It was out of that discussion that the Heritage Minutes were conceived, piloted, distributed through cinemas and broadcasters across the country, and then confirmed as a major contribution of the Foundation — which a few years later became Historica, recently merged with the Dominion Institute.

Bronfman joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Giving Pledge, a long-term charitable initiative that aims to inspire conversations about philanthropy and increase charitable giving in the United States.[1][4]

Personal life[edit]

Bronfman has been married four times:

  • Barbara Baerwald. Marriage dates unknown. They had two children.[7]
  • Andrea "Andy" Brett Morrison (1945-2006). In 1982, he married Morrison; she died in 2006 after being struck by a taxi when she went out to walk her dog.[10] She has three children from a previous marriage to Canadian manufacturer David Cohen, grandson of Lyon Cohen and cousin of singer Leonard Cohen: Jeremy Cohen, Pippa Cohen, and Tony Cohen.[11]
  • Bonita "Bonnie" Roche. In 2008, married Roche, an architect, in New York City. They divorced in 2011, on amicable terms, celebrating their divorce with a lavish "divorce party."[12]
  • Rita Mayo. In late 2012, married.[2]

Awards and honours[edit]

Works or publications[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "The World's Billionaires: Charles Bronfman". Forbes Magazine. Retrieved 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Slater, Joanna (April 5, 2013). "The Lunch: Charles Bronfman opens up about Seagram's demise: 'It is a disaster'". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 25 December 2013. 
  3. ^ "The making of Lunch with Charles Bronfman" (video). The Globe and Mail. April 5, 2013. Retrieved 25 December 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Charles Bronfman Letter" (PDF). The Giving Pledge. Retrieved 25 December 2013. 
  5. ^ "About". Karev Foundation. Retrieved 25 December 2013. 
  6. ^ Sadeh, Shuki (17 March 2013). "How foreign donors reshaped Israel: A who's who". Haaretz. Retrieved 30 November 2013. 
  7. ^ "Charles Bronfman". The Charles Bronfman Prize. Retrieved 25 December 2013. 
  8. ^ Forbes: "The Other Bronfman" by Monte Burke August 19, 2006
  9. ^ Forbes: "Major League Soccer's Billionaire Owners" by Charles Smith November 20, 2013
  10. ^ Fox, Margalit (January 25, 2006). "Andrea M. Bronfman, 60, an Internationally Noted Philanthropist, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 December 2013. 
  11. ^ Sign on San Diego: "Andrea Morrison Bronfman; active in Jewish causes; 60" By Margalit Fox January 28, 2006
  12. ^ Fabrikant, Geraldine (May 13, 2011). "Divorce, in Style". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 December 2013. 
  13. ^ Office of the Governor General of Canada. Order of Canada citation. Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 24 May 2010

External links[edit]