In 1964, Marshall M. Gelfand, partner at Gelfand, Rennert & Feldman, received a fateful phone call from an attorney he had met at a party.
The lawyer said, “There’s a singing group going on tour named Peter, Paul & Mary and they need an accountant,” recalls Gelfand, who was just starting his accounting practice. “I knew nothing about touring, but I knew accounting. They became our first client.”
A few years later, he added Neil Diamond and Bob Dylan, who are still clients. Today, Gelfand, Rennert & Feldman is one of the top business management firms in the industry with 18 partners (including Gelfand’s son, managing partner Todd Gelfand), 200 staffers and offices in Los Angeles and New York.
Equally important to Gelfand is his work on behalf of charitable causes. He is treasurer of the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center and VP of the Frank Sinatra Celebrity Golf Tournament. But the cause closest to his heart is the Judy Fund, named in honor of his wife, which he founded in 2003 to raise money in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Assn.
“My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at 62 and died before her 71st birthday, and her mother also died of Alzheimer’s,” says Gelfand’s daughter Elizabeth Gelfand Stearns, who runs the fund with her father. “In his grief, he did what he does best. My father said to the association that he would raise a million dollars, and within three months he raised a million. The association said, ‘Please, don’t stop.’ To date, we’ve raised just under $5 millon.”
Now 86, Gelfand is semi-retired, with just two remaining clients on his personal roster, Barbara Sinatra and 98-year-old author Herman Wouk. But he still makes a weekly two-day trip from his home in the Palm Spring area, where he has resided since 1975, to work in the firm’s Century City office.