May 16, 2014

Bob Balaban’s Uncle Barney

Filed under: Uncategorized — susanwoodland @ 6:01 pm

While processing the UJA of Greater NY, Inc. files this spring, I noticed on the UJA campaign letterhead that one of the trustees in 1968 was a man named Barney Balaban.

Barney Balaban, Trustee of UJA of Greater New York, Inc., 1968

Barney Balaban, Trustee of UJA of Greater New York, Inc., 1968

Whoever Barney Balaban was, he was in good company.  Other trustees that year included William Rosenwald (son of Julius), Louis Lefkowitz, Charles Revson, and Edward M. M. Warburg, among others.

A quick look at Barney Balaban’s wikipedia entry indicated what I had suspected, that he was related to actor Bob Balaban – in fact, Barney was Bob’s uncle.

The online archive of the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) produced a number of articles further linking Barney Balaban with UJA, and revealing how long his connection with UJA had lasted.  Following are links to just 2 of the articles:

As president of Paramount Pictures for nearly thirty years, Barney Balaban was successful in soliciting large donations for UJA campaigns from other film industry executives, as well as getting entertainment stars like Eddie Cantor to make personal appearances and accept awards.

In 1956 as co-chair of UJA’s summer campaign, Barney Balaban was instrumental in raising $5,000,000.

And in a book entitled, “An Uneasy Relationship: American-Jewish Leadership and Israel, 1948-1957” by Zvi Ganin, there is a surprising mention of Barney Balaban in connection with President Eisenhower.




  1. Fascinating blog post, just loaded with great information!


    Comment by Betsy — May 17, 2014 @ 6:04 am

  2. Barney had a son, Burt Balaban, who married my grandmother. While Burt was not the father of my mother (it was a second marriage) my mother adored him and gave me his name (Burt). Both my grandmother and Burt passed away before I was born, but my mother had many wonderful photos of the life she had growing up. One of the photos was of Eisenhower and Barney together holding up a photo of a building that I believe (according to my mother) was being donated by Barney (as part of a Jewish league or something) to the United States. Wish I knew more. My mother has passed away and I am continuing to decipher many of the photos and her memories.


    Comment by Burt — December 9, 2015 @ 5:23 am

  3. Many thanks for your comment Burt. I hope you do find more information about Barney’s work and his avocation for helping various causes. You can now search the full collection (not a lot of UJA material, unfortunately, mostly Federation) here:, and come take a look at any of the files that may be of interest. UJA raises money for many programs and projects in Israel; perhaps the photo of the building was in Israel?


    Comment by susanwoodland — December 9, 2015 @ 5:46 pm

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