Richard Rosman, president of the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, and Fran Morris Rosman, executive director and archivist to the Ella Fitzgerald Estate, are stalwart West Coast supporters of the National Portrait Gallery. They recently visited the museum to for a special viewing of Ethel Merman’s portrait, which they have adopted, and we took a few moments to chat with them about their relationship with the museum.
Q: How did you get involved with the Portrait Gallery?
Richard and Fran: We knew your director of advancement, Amy Karazsia, previously. She invited us to attend an exciting Portrait Gallery patrons’ trip to New York City, and we took her up on it. We had an amazing time. One of the programs featured a presentation by Senior Curator of Photographs Ann Shumard. After hearing Ann speak and walking around the Armory show with a handful of other curators, we were pretty much hooked on the National Portrait Gallery!
Q: Do you have a favorite portrait in the collection?
Richard and Fran: Our favorite is the portrait of Ethel Merman (below), which we have adopted as Portrait Circle Presidents level members.
Q: Why do you think it’s important for our country to have a National Portrait Gallery?
Richard and Fran: By walking through the National Portrait Gallery, you can learn more about the history of the United States of America than in four years of high school. I wish we could teleport every single high school student in the country here at least once. The stories come alive when you are able to look at the faces of the people who made them.
Q: Is there anyone you would like to see added to the collection?
Fran: I think the Portrait Gallery is very thorough, so no. However, being a resident of the West Coast, I would love to see more shows travel across the country. A few years ago, Abraham Lincoln’s hat traveled from the American History Museum to a number of museums across the nation, and it was remarkable how many people lined up to see it. And the fact that it brought the Smithsonian name with it was really exciting.
Richard: The East Coast offers a different type of art museum than you will find on the West Coast. There is so much history here. Collecting started much later on the West Coast, so you see a lot of Eastern and modern art. It is really exciting to take historical art to the West Coast because it is something more novel for us.
Rich and Fran have been married for more than thirty years and are both Los Angeles natives. Rich is a graduate of UCLA and of Harvard Law School, and Fran graduated from the University of California at Irvine and the Graduate Library School of the University of Chicago. Rich and Fran continue to live in the Los Angeles area where they can grow tomatoes all year long.