Who Was William Louis-Dreyfus? Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Billionaire Business Mogul Father Dies at 84
The actress honored her late father in her Emmys acceptance speech
His daughter is a world-famous seven-time Emmy winner, but William Louis-Dreyfus lived a life just as incredible as Julia’s.
He died on Friday, just two days before the Emmy Awards, at which his daughter took home her fifth consecutive Emmy, and her seventh overall.
Born in France in 1932, Gérard C. Louis-Dreyfus grew up in Paris before moving to America when his parents divorced. His father, Pierre Louis-Dreyfus, who worked for the family’s agriculture processing giant Louis Dreyfus Group, was also a part of the French Resistance in World War II. His mother was the American-born daughter of a Brazilian father and a Mexican mother.
He was a billionaire businessman who started his career as a lawyer, working for a New York City law firm after graduating from Duke University’s School of Law. He then went on to serve as the chairman of Louis Dreyfus Energy Services.
Though he was perhaps best known for his business endeavors, Louis-Dreyfus had a creative side, too: He was a poet, and served as chairman of the Poetry Society of America for 10 years.
He was also an avid art collector, and accumulated a collection of works by more than 170 artists estimated to be worth as much as $50 million.
However, he doesn’t leave his the bulk of collection behind in death: He donated a huge chunk to The Harlem Children’s Zone, a New York-based non-profit that aims to support low-income and underprivileged young people.
His charitable work didn’t end there: Louis-Dreyfus later opened his own gallery to support causes like the Bedford Hills Free Library and the Horace Greeley Scholarship Fund, while giving others a chance to experience the art.
He leaves behind three daughters and his wife, Phyllis B. Louis-Dreyfus. And as Julia said in her speech, he always supported her.
“She was always very interested in acting,” he said in 2014. “If the children are happy and successful, it’s a great thing for parents. She’s a wonderful actress and an even better daughter and mother.”
Julia took a moment to tearfully honor her father in her acceptance speech for outstanding actress in a comedy series.
“I’m so glad he liked Veep, because his opinion was the one that really mattered.”
At the time of his death, he lived in Bedford, New York, just outside of New York City.