Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Fast Forward

Leah Adler, Mother Of Steven Spielberg, Dies At 97

Steven Spielberg’s mother, Leah Adler, known for operating The Milky Way restaurant in Los Angeles, died Tuesday at her Los Angeles home surrounded by her children. She was 97.

Adler, known as Lee Lee to her family and friends, was born in Cincinnati. She developed a love of music when she learned piano at the age of five and later studied at the Music Conservatory in Cincinnati.

In 1945, she married Arnold Meyer Spielberg and they had four children – Steven, Anne, Sue and Nancy.

She told “60 Minutes” that Steven Spielberg “ran the family” and remembered him fighting back against anti-Semetic neighbors, “We lived in an all non-Jewish neighborhood. These people used to chant, “The Spielberg’s are dirty Jews.” And one night, Steve climbed out of his bedroom window and peanut buttered their windows, which I thought was marvelous.”

She would often advise restaurant visitors with such aphorisms as “Guilt is a wasted emotion,” “Be kind to yourself” and “Always leave a party early. Leave them wanting more.”

Spielberg mentioned his mother in his acceptance speech for winning the Academy Award for Best Director in 1994 for “Schindler’s List,” calling her “my lucky charm.”—Variety.com

A message from our editor-in-chief Jodi Rudoren

We're building on 127 years of independent journalism to help you develop deeper connections to what it means to be Jewish today.

With so much at stake for the Jewish people right now — war, rising antisemitism, a high-stakes U.S. presidential election — American Jews depend on the Forward's perspective, integrity and courage.

—  Jodi Rudoren, Editor-in-Chief 

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.