Zavin, Theodora 1922-2004

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ZAVIN, Theodora 1922-2004


See index for CA sketch: Born January 29, 1922, in New York, NY; died June 21, 2004, in New York, NY. Attorney and author. Zavin, a copyright attorney who staunchly defended the rights of composers to maintain control of their music, was founder and a senior executive of the BMI Foundation, Inc., an organization created to assist music students. She completed her undergraduate work at Hunter College in 1941 before studying law at Columbia University, where she graduated in 1943. Admitted to the Bar of New York City the next year, she was hired by the law firm Wolff & Ernst, where she worked for the remainder of the 1940s. Zavin joined Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) as house counsel in 1952, rising through the ranks to become senior vice president and special counsel in 1968, a job she held until her 2001 retirement. While at BMI, she became a legal ally and friend of such composers as Neil Sedaka, Paul Simon, John Lennon, John Williams, Alan Menken, Billy Joel, and Carole King, among many others. She became founding president of the BMI Foundation, Inc., in 1985. Although her main interest was in copyright law—she was president of the Copyright Society of the U.S.A. from 1986 to 1988—Zavin was also interested in other legal issues and wrote two books with Harriet F. Pilpel for lay readers about the law: Your Marriage and the Law (1952; revised edition, 1964) and Rights and Writers (1960). Also known as a popular hostess of parties for people in the music industry, Zavin published three cookbooks, including The Working Wives Cookbook (1963), written with Freda Stuart, Around the World in Twenty Meals (1972), and The Everybody Bring a Dish Cookbook (1974). Inducted into the Hunter College Hall of Fame, she received many other honors in her lifetime, including being named Executive of the Year by the United Jewish Appeal, and being honored by such groups as the Young Musicians Foundation, the Association of Independent Music Publishers, and the entertainment, arts, and sports law division of the New York State Bar Association.



Los Angeles Times, June 25, 2004, p. B11.

New York Times, June 23, 2004, p. C15.


BMI Foundation, (June 22, 2004).

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Zavin, Theodora 1922-2004

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