S. (Sydney) Mark Taper (December 25, 1902 - December 16, 1994) was a real estate developer, financier and philanthropist in Southern California. His 1962 gift to the Los Angeles Music Center resulted in the Mark Taper Forum being named for him in 1967.
Mr. Taper used “Sydney” as his first name because that was the name of his brother, who died in his twenties in New York.
Mr. Taper was born in Poland, moving to England where he eventually opened five shoe stores. In 1929, he began successfully investing in real estate and by the late 1930s, had retired and moved his family to Long Beach, California, becoming an American citizen.
During Southern California's postwar housing boom, Mr. Taper founded Biltmore Homes and began building suburban housing for returning soldiers in Long Beach, Norwalk, Compton and Lakewood. In all, he built 35,000 houses for low and middle-income people as part of some of the largest housing projects in the U.S. Mr. Taper also founded the First Charter Financial Corporation of Beverly Hills.
Mr. Taper financed the first gallery for modern works at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art as a memorial to his wife, Amelia, who died in 1958, and was a major donor to the University of California at Los Angeles.
Mark and Amelia Taper devoted much of their time to transporting hundreds of Catholic and Jewish children out of Nazi Germany. The S. Mark Taper Foundation was established in 1952 as a family foundation, and remains active in philanthropic giving, including funding the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center at Cedars Sinai Medical Center and the S. Mark Taper Foundation Forum at Benaroya Hall in Seattle.
As part of the 2007-2008 renovations, the auditorium of the Mark Taper Forum will be named the Amelia Taper Auditorium after a $2 million gift from the S. Mark Taper Foundation.
- "S. Mark Taper, 92; California Financier Gave to the Arts", New York Times, December 17, 1994
- "Birth of a City", Time Magazine, April 17, 1950
- "S. Mark Taper Foundation Gift Names Amelia Taper Auditorium at Music Center's Mark Taper Forum (dead link)" (Press release). Los Angeles Music Center. January 3, 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-27.