Judy Balaban, Influential Name in Hollywood, Dies at 91 Years Old

The daughter of a legendary studio mogul, Balaban was involved with Hollywood elite, including Montgomery Clift, Merv Griffin, Tony Franciosa and of course, Grace Kelly. Balaban, a bridesmaid at Kelly’s wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco, has died at the age of 91.

Source: Alberto E.Rodriguez / Getty Images

What do we know about Judy Balaban’s family & her tragic passing?

Balaban passed away in a Los Angeles hospital on Thursday night, according to her friend, author and documentary filmmaker Cari Beauchamp. She is survived by her daughters, Amy and Nina, both born of her past relationships, as well as a cousin, Oscar-nominated actor Bob Balaban. Unfortunately, Victoria, her other daughter with Jay Kanter, passed away in June 2020.

Judith Rose Balaban was born on October 13, 1932, in Chicago, to Tillie and Barney Balaban. Her father jointly owned a theater chain before being elected president of Paramount in 1936, and he would lead the company until 1964. Her brother was the famed jazz musician Red Balaban, and her half-brother was Burt Balaban, who was the producer of films such as Murder, Inc. in the 1960s.

Source: Mark A. Viera / ACLU

Hollywood Elite: The Legacy of Judy Balaban

She was an outspoken advocate of civil rights, having served on the board of directors for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Southern California for many years. When Grace Kelly got married to Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1956, Balaban stood by her side as one of her bridesmaids. This experience was chronicled in her book, The Bridesmaids: Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco and Six Intimate Friends, where she discussed the events of the day and talked about the wedding dress along with the wedding party. Judy also starred in documentaries on Clift in 1983 and 2018, as well as one about Kelly in 1987, and participated in interviews for Mark Cousins’ outstanding 2011 documentary series The Story of Film: An Odyssey.