Film Society of Lincoln Center Co-Founder Martin E. Segal Dead at 96

Martin E. Segal, Film Society of Lincoln CenterThe Russian-born American businessman and cultural philanthropist Martin E. Segal died Sunday just under two months before the 50th anniversary of the New York Film Festival, the premiere Manhattan film event hosted annually by the venerable organization he founded, the Film Society of Lincoln Center. He was 96.

Segal's son Paul confirmed his death, the New York Times reports. In 1969, he co-founded the organization that has grown into a film behemoth that hosts year-round film events including NYFF, New Directors/New Films, major retrospectives and other high-profile events that attracts over 200,000 film aficionados, filmmakers, and industry. He served as FSLC's president and CEO until 1978 and as chairman of Lincoln Center from 1981 - 1986

Segal was born in Vitebsk in what was still known as the Russian Empire in 1916, a year before the Bolshevik revolution. He founded The Segal Company in October, 1939 and has grown to become one of the nation's largest firms dealing with benefits, compensation and human resources consultation. In addition to Lincoln Center, Segal was active in other New York cultural institutions including the New York Landmarks Conservancy, the New York Public Library, the New York International Festival of the Arts (which discontinued in 2002) and the Martin E. Segal Theater Center at the CUNY Graduate Center in 2000. Additionally, he served as the first chairman of NYC's Commission for Cultural Affairs from 1975 - 1977.

"Marty was a passionate and enthusiastic champion of film," Rose Kuo executive director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center told ML. "When something caught his attention, he would quickly respond, gather support and with a great sense of urgency, he would make sure that things happened like last year's NYFF screening of the newly restored Chaplin's Gold Rush. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from his wisdom and be inspired by his curiosity. He was the youngest 96 year old I ever met."

[Source: New York Times]