Leah Adler, Steven Spielberg’s Mother, Dies at 97

Concert pianist also owned a kosher restaurant

Leah Adler
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Leah Adler, the mother of three-time Academy Award-winning director Steven Spielberg, died Tuesday at the age of 97 at her Los Angeles home.

Adler, a former concert pianist, was most recently the proprietor of the kosher restaurant The Milky Way on Los Angeles’ Pico Boulevard, which she opened with her second husband, the late Bernie Adler. She was also known around Hollywood for her sharp wit, which she wielded on red carpets and at her restaurant.

“I told Steve, if I’d known how famous he was going to be, I’d have had my uterus bronzed,” Adler said in a 1994 Los Angeles Times profile.

Adler was born in Cincinnati, where she learned piano at the age of 5 and eventually went on to study at the city’s Music Conservatory and graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a degree in home economics. She married electrical engineer Arnold Spielberg in 1945 and had four children: Steven, Anne, Sue and Nancy.

The family briefly lived in New Jersey before relocating to then-sleepy desert town Phoenix in 1957, where Steven Spielberg first experimented with a video camera.

They moved to Northern California in 1964, after which Adler divorced Arnold Spielberg and headed back to the Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale, Ariz., where she married Bernie Adler in 1967.

While living in Arizona, she frequently performed piano solos and also owned an art gallery. The couple eventually joined Adler’s son in Los Angeles, where they presided over their kosher restaurant in one of the city’s oldest Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods.