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Lilly Tartikoff Karatz (b. June 23, 1953, Los Angeles) is one of the country’s foremost cancer activists and fundraisers. She has raised more than $80 million for cancer research.

Early Life[edit]

Lilly Tartikoff Karatz is the daughter of two Holocaust survivors Jack and Bluma Samuels. She attended public schools while growing up in Los Angeles and at the age of 10 received a Ford Foundation scholarship to study ballet at The David Lichine and Irina Kosmovska Ballet School. From the age of 10 to 17 she danced with the Los Angeles Junior Ballet. When she was 17 years old she was invited by George Balanchine to attend the School of American Ballet on a Ford Foundation Scholarship.

During her 9 years at the New York City Ballet, under the direction of Mr. Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, she danced at The Palace of Congress Theatre in the Kremlin in Russia, The Munich Opera House in Germany, The Concert Hall in Tivoli Gardens in Denmark, the Royal Opera House in Covent Gardens in London, Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris and The Kennedy Center in Washington DC. The company’s main venue is at Lincoln Center’s David H Koch Theater in New York City and during the summers at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center located in upstate New York.


In 1982 Lilly Tartikoff Karatz married Brandon Tartikoff, Chairman of Entertainment for NBC. They had two daughters Calla Lianne and Elizabeth Justine. In 1991, their 8 year old daughter Calla suffered a severe brain injury in a car accident. Calla received intense therapy in order to walk and speak again while Brandon received chemotherapy for the third time for Hodgkin’s Disease. After a long illness and an incredibly productive life Brandon Tartikoff died from Hodgkin’s Disease in August 27, 1997 at the age of 48. After he passed away Lilly took over his production company H. Beale and executive produced 42 episodes of his television show, Beggars and Choosers (TV Series) with Peter Lefcourt.

In November of 2009 Lilly Tartikoff Karatz married Bruce Karatz, an American homebuilder and philanthropist. He is the father of three and the grandfather of four.


In 1990, Lilly Tartikoff Karatz along with Ronald O. Perelman, Chairman and CEO of Revlon, created the Revlon/UCLA Women’s Cancer Research Program under the direction of Dr. Dennis Slamon. The annual Fire & Ice Ball in Hollywood was also established in 1990 to raise funds for this program. These funds were used to rapidly advance clinical trials which led to a new FDA approved drug, Herceptin®, which increases responses and survival in women with the most aggressive form of breast cancer.

Lifetime Television and Renee Zellwegger produced the film Living Proof [1] which follows the true story of Lilly Tartikoff Karatz and Ronald Perelman’s efforts to raise money for Dr. Dennis Slamon’s cutting-edge science. The film is also based on the book HER-2 [2] written by Robert Bazell, which chronicles Dr. Slamon’s development of the drug Herceptin®. The film stars Harry Connick Jr as Dr. Slamon and Angie Harmon as Lilly Tartikoff Karatz along with a supporting cast that includes Bernadette Peters, Amy Madigan and Amanda Bynes. The film aired on the Lifetime Channel in October 2008 during Breast Cancer Month.

Lilly Tartikoff Karatz co-founded the EIF Revlon Run/Walk For Women in Los Angeles with Revlon and the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) in 1993 and the EIF Revlon Run/Walk For Women in New York in 1998. Since then there is an EIF Revlon Run/Walk in both Los Angeles and New York every year which continues to raise significant funds to advance cancer research.

In 1997 Lilly Tartikoff Karatz co-created the National Women’s Cancer Research Alliance (NWCRA) along with EIF and seven leading scientists from around the nation.

In 1998, Lilly Tartikoff Karatz created, with EIF and The QVC shopping channel, the international “Cure By The Shore”. Originally set at the International Cannes Film Festival, the event was hosted in Monte Carlo, Principality of Monaco in 2001.

Lilly Tartikoff Karatz partnered with Katie Couric and EIF to form the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance (NCCRA) in March of 2000.

In 2001, Lilly launched the United Cancer Front. Dr. Slamon is the organization’s Chief Scientific Director. Like those funds raised to help expedite the development of Herceptin®, the United Cancer Front helped to raise badly needed, unrestricted funds to accelerate scientific discovery and delivery of breakthrough cancer therapies.

In October 2000 in Washington, DC, Lilly received the Hope Award from the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship. In 2002 NCCS then created the Lilly Tartikoff Hope Award to honor, remember and celebrate all whose lives have been touched by cancer.

In October 2003, Lilly along with Yves Carcelle of Louis Vuitton and Suzanne and Bob Wright of NBC and GE co-chaired the first Annual Louis Vuitton United Cancer Front Gala to raise unrestricted funds for 35 of the most promising scientists to further the scientific discovery of breakthrough cancer therapies. In November 2004, Lilly along with Yves Carcelle, Kelly and Ron Meyer of Universal Studios, Suzanne and Bob Wright and Laura Ziskin co-chaired the second Annual Louis Vuitton United Cancer Front Gala.

Lilly recently became a Board Member of Museum of Contemporary Art and she and her daughter Calla own The Colony Café, a restaurant in Los Angeles[3]. Lilly and her daughters were featured in the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine section in March 2007 [4].


1991 Glamour Woman of the Year Award

1992 Norma Zarky Humanitarian Women in Film Award

1999 Spirit of Achievement Award presented by the National Women's Division of Albert Einstein College of Medicine

2000 National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship 1st Annual Hope Award

2000 Glamour Woman of the Year Award

2001 Red Book’s Mothers & Shakers Award for extraordinary contributions to health care

2001 The Golden Scalpel Award from Cedars Sinai Medical Center for outstanding commitment to curing diseases that afflict the brain.

2002 Jefferson Awards National Recipient where she was honored with the S. Roger Horchow Award For Greatest Public Service by a Private Citizen

2002 National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship created the Lilly Tartikoff Hope Award to honor, remember and celebrate all whose lives have been touched by cancer.

2003 Golden Mike Award by the Broadcaster’s Foundation

2006 National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship Ray of Hope Award

Women Helping Women Award by the City Light Celebrity Action Council of the LA Mission


  1. ^ Living Proof (2008) Lifetime Television Movie. Executive produced by Renee Zellweger, Neil Meron, Vivienne Radkoff and Craig Zadan.
  2. ^ Bazell, Robert. HER-2: The Making of Herceptin, a Revolutionary Treatment for Breast Cancer. Random House, October 1998.
  3. ^ “All that’s Missing is the Sand”, Los Angeles Times story and review about The Colony Café and Lilly and Calla Tartikoff, by Susan LaTempa October 4, 2006.
  4. ^ Los Angeles Times Magazine Article “Back On Her Feet” written by Robin Abcarian, March 25, 2007.