Louise Brown was born a performer. In an elegant gown, high heels, perfectly coifed hair and a long cigarette holder that she barely smoked, Brown introduced some of the most important performers of the ’50s and ’60s to Miami audiences.
“She was the queen of social directors of Miami Beach,” said Veronica Fuchs, former president of the Leading Ladies, an auxiliary of the Transplant Foundation that assists patients in need of an organ transplant. “When you say pioneer, she was a pioneer of all the theatrical things in Miami Beach.”
Brown worked in various Miami Beach hotels as a performer and hostess, and was an active member of many charitable organizations. She was best known for her job of more than 10 years as the social director at the Casablanca Hotel, where she was nicknamed the “hostess with the mostest.’’
Brown died June 29 after various weeks of battling with pneumonia. She was 93.
She was born May 29, 1919 in Cleveland, Ohio, where in her early teens she had to be chaperoned to her performances. She then moved to New Jersey, where she sang with top orchestras in New York and Atlantic City. There, she met her first husband, comedian Milt Ross. Together, they created a singing and comedy show, which they performed together for many years.
In 1947, one of the biggest snow blizzards in New Jersey persuaded them to move to Florida, where they both continued performing. They took jobs as entertainment directors — Ross at the Hollywood Beach Hotel and Brown at the Casablanca.
Ross and Brown married and divorced twice and had two sons, Jack Ross and Alan Ross. The family had cornered the local market in entertainment. Jack Ross grew up to be a singer and performer, working at a Miami Beach hotel as a master of ceremonies. Alan Ross was a drummer, who was able to pay his way through law school performing.
After her divorce from Ross, Brown married Jay Brandman. The couple made their home in Pembroke Pines. Brandman died last year.
Brown spend almost 40 years in numerous Miami Beach hotels, where she would greet guests from all over the country who came to see Broadway, rock ‘n’ roll, and country shows.
“She knew all the acts,” said Fuchs. “She knew everyone and gave everyone a chance to perform. She was a singer and until last year she was still singing ‘Hello Dolly!’”
Brown had two original songs written for her to preform, one being “Talk to Me.” Frank Sinatra asked her permission to record it.
After her job at Casablanca, Brown continued to work on limited occasions for hotels and for condominiums in Miami Beach, but then focused her attention on nonprofit organizations.
Brown was one of the founders and active chairwoman of the Leading Ladies. She was a key member in organizing black tie galas and luncheons that would help raise money for people in need of a transplant. When they scheduled shows to help raise money, Brown would don a blonde wig and do a perfect impersonation of Carol Channing.
In her 80s, Brown became the secretary-treasurer of the Aventura Optimist Club, dedicated to service projects and providing a helping hand to youth. She attended events like the Special Olympics and made various monetary contributions to the City of Hope, an independent biomedical research, treatment and education institution for cancer, the American Foundation for Children with AIDS, the Committee for Missing Children and the Jewish Museum in Miami.
A funeral service is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Sunday at Levitt Weinstein Memorial, 18840 W. Dixie Hwy., North Miami Beach. A graveside service will follow at Lakeside Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Leading Ladies at 866-900-3172.