His daughter Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a seven-time Emmy Award winner and a household name, but William Louis-Dreyfus also had an extraordinary life. His daughter won her fifth straight Emmy and her seventh overall during Sunday night’s ceremony, but he passed away on Friday, only two days before the ceremony.
Gérard C. Louis-Dreyfus was born in France in 1932, and he spent much of his childhood there before going to the United States with his mother after his parents split. His father, Pierre Louis-Dreyfus, was a member of the French Resistance during World War II in addition to working for the family’s agro processing powerhouse, the Louis Dreyfus Group.
His mother was a native American, the daughter of a Brazilian father, and a Mexican mother. After graduating from Duke University’s School of Law, this future billionaire got his start in the legal field with a firm in New York City. After that, he became the head of Louis Dreyfus Energy Services.
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Despite his prominence in the corporate world, Louis-Dreyfus also had a passion for the arts; he was a published poet and led the Poetry Society of America for a decade. As a passionate art collector, he amassed a collection of over 170 artists’ works with a total value of up to $50 million.
But he didn’t leave much of his collection to his family when he passed away; instead, he gave a sizable amount to a New York City charity that helps disadvantaged kids. Not content to stop there, Louis-Dreyfus launched his own gallery to benefit organizations like the Bedford Hills Free Library and the Horace Greeley Scholarship Fund while also providing the public with access to his collection of artwork.
Aside from his wife Phyllis B. Louis-Dreyfus, he is survived by his three daughters. He was always there for her, as Julia said in her speech “She was always very interested in acting,” he recalled in 2014. To have happy and successful children is a blessing for any parent. She’s great in front of the camera, but she shines in the roles of daughter and mother.
During her award speech for outstanding actor in a comedy series, Julia took a minute to remember her father sadly.
“I’m so glad he liked Veep, because his opinion was the one that really mattered.”
He was a resident of Bedford, New York, a suburb of New York City, at the time of his passing.