Newhouse, Caroline Herz

views updated

Newhouse, Caroline Herz

(b. 1910 in Polch, Germany; d. 26 April 2003 in Roxbury, Connecticut), artist, sculptor, and prominent figure in New York City cultural circles, best known as a philanthropist and cofounder of Career Transitions for Dancers.

Newhouse was born Caroline Herz in Polch, Germany, a town near Koblenz in the Rhineland-Pfalz region. From the time she was a child she expressed an interest in the arts, eventually deciding to study art history at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. In 1934, during the Nazi occupation of Germany, Herz and her widowed mother immigrated to the United States. Years later, her nephew stated that “she came here because she was a young Jewish woman who wanted to stay alive.”

Herz married Theodore Newhouse in 1956. At the time of their marriage, he was a widower and associate publisher of the Newhouse Newspaper Group, a subsidiary of the Newhouse Communications Company, which he and his two brothers, Samuel I. and Norman, had founded and developed into a multimillion-dollar family enterprise. The Newspaper Group alone consists of twenty-six daily newspapers, while the Communications Group includes the Conde Nast magazines, a number of cable television systems, and several business journals. Part of the family’s success has been attributed to the fact that it permitted the publishers and editors of its various newspapers an amazing amount of autonomy.

The couple owned residences in New York City and in Roxbury, a small town located in Litchfield County, Connecticut, where Newhouse maintained a sculpture studio for her artwork. From 24 April through 12 May 1975, her “New Sculpture” exhibition was on display at the Huntington Hartford Museum in New York City. This show was made possible by the New York Cultural Center in association with Fairleigh Dickinson University. Over the years Newhouse had the opportunity to show her works of art at various places around the United States and received numerous accolades for them.

In 1985 Newhouse and her husband cofounded Career Transitions for Dancers (CTFD) at the Caroline & Theodore Newhouse Center for Dancers, an organization with offices in New York and Los Angeles that helps retired professional ballet and Broadway dancers explore their unique talents in launching new careers. Since its inception, the organization has helped more than 2,500 dancers, provided more than 32,000 hours of free one-on-one career counseling, and awarded more than $1.7 million in educational scholarships. It continues to offer specialized services, such as access to a new national networking directory, a website, and a toll-free national hotline, as well as the support of peer groups, resource centers, and transition seminars and workshops.

After having donated $1 million to CTFD, Newhouse was asked why she wanted to help dancers. Her response was that dancers often served as models for her artwork. In conversing with these dancers as she sculpted, she had found out how hard they work and how difficult their job is on their bodies. As a result of the hard work and dedication of dancers and the role they played in the creation of her sculptures, Newhouse felt a special bond with them. Her contributions sponsored a CTFD Scholarship Fund, and for many years she served as both board member and cochair of the organization’s annual galas.

In addition to the CTFD, Newhouse was involved in the advancement and training of young ballet dancers and sponsored programs in which dancers would receive physical therapy for their injuries. She was also a significant contributor to a number of cultural institutions in the United States and served as board member of the New York City Opera and of the prestigious Lambs Club of New York City. Newhouse also made history by becoming the first woman to be admitted for membership in the Lambs Club, America’s first private club for the fine and performing arts.

Besides her many noteworthy contributions and artistic endeavors, Newhouse was also known for attending numerous cultural events, especially the spring and fall fashion shows at the Regency Hotel associated with one of her favorite designers, George Stavropoulos. He is known to many as “master of the chiffon dress,” and, according to Newhouse, he made her first dress when she arrived in New York. “It was black chiffon and I’m still wearing it,” she said in 1983.

In November 1998, Newhouse became a widow when her husband of more than forty years passed away. At that time and until her own death, she continued to maintain a sculpture studio in her home in Roxbury, Connecticut, where she died of a heart attack. Funeral services were held at the Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan, after which Newhouse was buried in the Baron Hirsch Cemetery on Staten Island, New York. Newhouse will be remembered as a petite, vivacious, and witty woman with a generous heart; a talented abstract artist and sculptor; a “champion of dancers”; and, most of all, an “angel of the arts.”

Obituaries are in the New York Times (29 Apr. 2003); the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and New Orleans Times-Picayune (both 30 Apr. 2003); and the San Diego Union-Tribune and Seattle Times (both 4 May 2003).

Adriana C. Tomasino