Liesel Pritzker Simmons

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Liesel Pritzker Simmons
Born Liesel Anne Pritzker
(1984-03-14) March 14, 1984 (age 30)[1]
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Residence New York City
Other names Liesel Matthews (stage name)
Alma mater New Trier High School
Columbia University
Occupation Actress, philanthropist
Net worth Increase US$ 500 million
Spouse(s) Ian Simmons
Parents Robert Pritzker
Irene Dryburgh
Relatives A.N. Pritzker (grandfather)
Jay Pritzker (uncle)

Liesel Pritzker Simmons (born Liesel Anne Pritzker on March 14, 1984), stage name Liesel Matthews, is a former American child actress, heiress to the Hyatt Hotels fortune, and philanthropist. She starred as Sara Crewe in A Little Princess, a 1995 film adaptation of the Frances Hodgson Burnett classic, and as Alice Marshall in Air Force One. She is a member of the wealthy Pritzker family.

Early life and education[edit]

Liesel Anne Pritzker was born in Chicago, Illinois, into the wealthy Pritzker family, of Ukrainian Jewish origin on her father's side. Her parents are Irene (née Dryburgh) and Robert Pritzker.[2] She was named after the Sound of Music character Liesl von Trapp, the eldest daughter of the seven von Trapp children.[citation needed] She is one of twelve surviving grandchildren of patriarch A.N. Pritzker, a financier and industrialist who died in 1986. Her uncle, Jay Pritzker, is the founder of the Hyatt Hotel chain, and owned Braniff Airlines from 1983-1988. The family controls the TransUnion Credit Bureau and the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.[3][4] The Pritzker family has been near the top of Forbes magazine's "America's Richest Families" list since the list began in 1982. Pritzker graduated from New Trier High School outside of Chicago and enrolled at Columbia University.

Acting career[edit]

For her roles on stage and screen, Liesel Pritzker uses the stage name "Liesel Matthews," first to honor her brother Matthew and second, to avoid conflict between her divorced parents about whether she should incorporate her stepfather's name and be known as Liesel Pritzker-Bagley.[5]

Pritzker made her professional stage debut as Scout in a production of To Kill A Mockingbird in Chicago. She was also seen in Vincent in Brixton, and won a Theatre World Award for her performance. She went on to star in two other major films.

Lawsuit[edit]

In 2002, Pritzker, then an undergrad at Columbia University, filed a U.S. $6 billion lawsuit against her father and 11 older cousins claiming they had misappropriated money from trusts established for her and her brother Matthew Pritzker. In early 2005, the parties settled the lawsuit, which followed another suit that began the process of splitting the family fortune 11 ways, resulting in 10 more Pritzkers joining the Forbes 400; the most members of any family.[6] Under the settlement, Liesel and Matthew each received roughly U.S. $280 million in cash and were given more control over other trusts valued at about U.S. $170 million each.[4]

Philanthropy and Work[edit]

Liesel Pritzker is the founder of Young Ambassadors for Opportunity (YAO), a network of young professionals who aim to inspire, educate, and involve others in microfinance and the work of Opportunity International. In June 2009, she donated $4 million to Opportunity International to help expand microfinance services in Africa.[7] She is the co-founder of the IDP Foundation, Inc and Blue Haven Initiative.[8][9]

Personal life[edit]

She married Ian Simmons and currently lives in New York City.[10]

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1995 A Little Princess Sara Crewe Nominated – Young Artist Awards for Best Young Leading Actress in a Feature Film
1997 Air Force One Alice Marshall
2000 Blast Jessie 'Ears'

References[edit]

External links[edit]