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

Steven Spielberg and Leah Adler
Steven Spielberg and Leah Adler attend Elie Tahari Honored by Children of Chernobyl in 2006.

Steven Spielberg’s mother, Leah Adler, died on Tuesday, February 21, the Hollywood Reporter confirmed. She was 97.

“While known for her red lipstick and Peter Pan collars, for her love of daisies, for her blue jeans and sparkly bling, for her dancing from table to table around the Milky Way, and for her love of camping, fishing and crossword puzzles, Leah is best remembered for her deep, limitless love for the people around her,” a representative for Spielberg’s production company, Amblin Partners, said in a statement.

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Adler was born in Cincinnati. She studied at the Music Conservatory in Cincinnati and earned a degree in home economics from the University of Cincinnati.

She and her first husband, electrical engineer Arnold Meyer Spielberg, married in 1945 and lived in New Jersey for seven years before relocating to Phoenix, and then Los Gatos, California, with their four children. After their split, she married Bernie Adler in 1967. They opened a kosher restaurant called the Milky Way in L.A. before his passing in 1995.

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Steven, 70, was close to his mother. He opened up about her during a 2012 interview with 60 Minutes. “My mom didn’t parent us as much as she sort of big-sistered us. She was Peter Pan. She refused to grow up,” the famed director said at the time.

Leah Adler and Steven Spielberg
Leah Adler and Steven Spielberg attend the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science’s Chaim Weizmann Award in 1994.

“She’s the Peter Pan that he couldn’t put in his films,” family friend Shirley Lamm later told the Los Angeles Times in 1994. “She’s the E.T. that he couldn’t put in his films. She’s the pixie, she’s quixotic; she doesn’t have an artificial bone in her body.”

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Adler is survived by her four children, Steven, Anne, Sue and Nancy, as well as 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

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