Led Lincoln Center and its film society

Martin E. Segal, a former chairman of Lincoln Center and the founding president and chief executive of the Film Society of Lincoln Center for a decade, died Aug. 6 in New York. He was 96.

Segal was prexy-CEO of the film society from 1968-78 and chairman of Lincoln Center from 1981-86.

In a statement, FSLC said: “The board and the staff of the Film Society of Lincoln Center are deeply saddened by the death of its founding president, Martin E. Segal, who devotedly guided our organization through its formative years and beyond. Marty’s generosity and enthusiastic involvement created the foundation for the Film Society’s growth and stability for more than four decades. His creative mind, quick wit and charm will be missed by all of us.”

But Segal’s impact on the cultural affairs of New York City was more profound than just those two powerful positions would suggest, as he served on many other boards and committees of cultural and educational organizations.

He was the first chairman of New York’s Commission for Cultural Affairs, serving from 1975-77, and founded the International Festival of the Arts, which ran for 17 years until 2002.

From 2003-08 Segal was vice chairman of the Graduate Center Foundation of the City U. of New York, where he had helped establish the Martin E. Segal Theater Center.

He was also a founding member of Public Radio Intl. (formerly American Public Radio).

Born in Vitebsk, Russia, Segal became a wealthy man via international consulting firm the Segal Co., which he founded in 1939, retiring as chairman in 1991. While he was a generous donor himself, the New York Times said “he was perhaps most admired for the donations he managed to extract from others.”

Segal’s wife of 74 years died last year.

Survivors include a son and a daughter; a brother and a sister; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

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