Liesel Pritzker Simmons

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Liesel Pritzker Simmons
Born Liesel Anne Pritzker
(1984-03-14) March 14, 1984 (age 33)[1]
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Residence Greater Boston, Massachusetts[2]
Other names Liesel Matthews (stage name)
Alma mater New Trier High School
Columbia University
Occupation Actress, philanthropist
Years active 1995-2000
Net worth Increase US$ 500 million
Spouse(s) Ian Simmons
Parent(s) 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 an American former 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.[3] 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.[4][5] 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]

Liesel Pritzker uses the name "Liesel Matthews" as an actor on stage and screen, 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.[6]

Pritzker made her professional stage debut as Scout in a production of To Kill A Mockingbird in Chicago. She won a Theatre World Award for her performance in Vincent in Brixton. She starred in two major films, Alfonso Cuaron's A Little Princess and Wolfgang Petersen's 1997 action thriller, Air Force One.

In 2002, Pritzker played the character "Jenn" in Neil Labute's play, "The Distance from Here," at the Almeida Theatre at King's Cross in London, England with Enrico Colantoni, Ana Reeder, Amy Ryan, Jason Ritter, and Mark Webber in the cast. David Leveaux was director. [7]


In 2002, Pritzker, then a first-year student at Columbia University, filed a six billion dollar lawsuit against her father and eleven 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 had begun the process of splitting the family fortune eleven ways. That result placed eleven Pritzkers into the Forbes 400, the most from any single family.[8] 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.[5]

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.[9] She is the co-founder of the IDP Foundation, Inc and Blue Haven Initiative.[10][11]

Personal life[edit]

Pritzker is married to Erie Canal-heir Ian Simmons and resides with her husband in the Boston, Massachusetts area.[12][13]


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'


  1. ^ Carlyle, Erin (November 17, 2013). "Liesel Pritzker Simmons Sued Her Family And Got $500 Million, But She's No Trust Fund Baby". Forbes. Retrieved December 26, 2015. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Worthy, Ford; Hutton, Cynthia (April 25, 1988). "THE PRITZKERS UNVEILING A PRIVATE FAMILY Can you believe it? These billionaires actually like each other. But as Pritzkers proliferate, a worry arises: Can they maintain their striking success – and keep everyone happy?". CNN Money. Retrieved August 29, 2010. 
  4. ^ Ackman, Dan (December 11, 2002). "Liesel Pritzker, Meet Meadow Soprano". Forbes. Retrieved October 23, 2007. 
  5. ^ a b Maremont, Mark (January 9, 2005). "How a little princess won back her inheritance". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved October 23, 2007. 
  6. ^ David Brooks (December 13, 2002). "Little Princess Lost". The Daily Standard. Retrieved October 23, 2007. 
  7. ^ "Liesel Matthews - Other works". IMDb. Retrieved August 6, 2015. 
  8. ^ Kroll, Lisa (October 24, 2007). "Billionaire Family Feuds". Archived from the original on October 26, 2007. Retrieved November 5, 2007. 
  9. ^ "Liesel Pritzker Donates $4 Million to Opportunity International To Help Expand Microfinance Services in Africa". Opportunity International. Retrieved August 6, 2015. 
  10. ^ "About". Archived from the original on July 11, 2015. Retrieved August 6, 2015. 
  11. ^ "Member of the Synergos Board of Directors: Liesel Pritzker Simmons". Retrieved August 6, 2015. 
  12. ^ Archived April 13, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^

External links[edit]