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Bentley’s Drive

Barbara Factor Bentley becomes the first female board chair in Cedars-Sinai's 100-year-history.

by Michael Aushenker

June 13, 2002 | 8:00 pm

Barbara Factor Bentley, left, receives Mother of the Year Award from Daisy Schott, president of Cedars-Sinai's Helping Hand Division. Photo by Thomas Neerken

Barbara Factor Bentley, left, receives Mother of the Year Award from Daisy Schott, president of Cedars-Sinai's Helping Hand Division. Photo by Thomas Neerken

You might call her the first lady of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Barbara Factor Bentley, a Cedars-Sinai board member for more than 15 years, was the first woman to sit on the board of directors' executive committee. She was also the board's first female vice chair. And now, she has marked another milestone: Bentley is the first woman to chair the board of directors in the organization's 100-year history. Her term runs from 2002-2004.

"I'm very proud and very honored by the board's trust to put me in the position of chair," said Bentley, who plans to use that trust wisely, focusing on such areas as women's oncology and breast cancer.

On Sept. 21, Cedars-Sinai will mark its 100th birthday, and Bentley is working hard on preparations for the hospital's centennial. A community block party celebration and a commemorative book chronicling the history of Cedars-Sinai, which sprang from the Jewish community, are currently in the works.

"Barbara's long and dedicated involvement with Cedars-Sinai, our board and the community make her an ideal choice for this leadership role," said Steven D. Broidy, outgoing board chairman. "Everyone will benefit from her enthusiasm, insight and extensive experience with the organization."

Bentley is the granddaughter of movie makeup pioneer Max Factor. At its peak, Max Factor & Co. had branches and distributors in 123 countries. Bentley's uncle, Lewis, oversaw factory production at Max Factor and and her uncle, Sidney, headed the international division. She said that commitment to community and charitable giving is a part of the Factor name.

"The whole family was extremely philanthropic," said Bentley, who grew up on Maple Drive in Beverly Hills. "Our family ingrained in us the spirit of giving."

Bentley's devotion to Cedars-Sinai not only runs in the family -- it helped build the medical center. Bentley, daughter of the late Davis Factor Sr., former chairman of Max Factor, is one of three trustees of the Max Factor Family Foundation, which, for more than one-quarter of a century, has been a major supporter of the hospital.

"We gave the first seed money -- at that time $4 million in 1968 -- and that is what started the building specifically for the Max Factor Tower," said Bentley, who used to work at Max Factor, most notably as director of international marketing and area director for Sweden and Italy. Cedars-Sinai and Jewish Home for the Aging, another favorite charity, both bear the Max Factor family name. The Factor family was reluctant to publicize its contribution at first, until it realized that its high-profile philanthropy might generate more contributions for its causes.

Bentley didn't know her legendary grandfather very well -- Factor died when Bentley was 8 years old. However, she's well aware of his legacy, which includes pancake makeup, lip gloss and false eyelashes. "From the early days, he started developing the makeup for the movie industry," Bentley said. Factor won an Oscar in 1929 for his contributions to moviedom.

In addition to the many hours she devotes to Cedars-Sinai, she and her husband, Joseph, have supported and volunteered their time for a number of charitable organizations, including Mt. Sinai Hospital, Boyle Heights Clinic, Los Angeles Free Clinic and the Violence Prevention Coalition. Bentley is also a past chair and current board member of the Foundation for the Junior Blind.

"Our first major cause was for the Jewish Home for the Aging," Bentley said. "That is something we're still very involved in. We're very concerned for taking care of the elderly. Health care is also very important to us. Each of us have a personal reason."

Bentley's personal reason, in part, involves the kidney transplant she underwent two years ago. Her donor was her husband, Joseph. However, her commitment to health care goes back many years further when she used to volunteer at various medical centers, including Boyle Heights and Mt. Sinai.

"We're now involved very deeply in women's health," said Bentley from her Cedars-Sinai office. "We fund major cancer research and new programs for women. It's an interesting fact that a woman serves in many different ways -- at home with children, working in a business, volunteer work -- many things that we didn't do 30 or 40 years ago, and I find a lot of that very challenging and very gratifying."

Bentley hopes to break more ground in addressing women's health issues and to continue updating health-care facilities, research and access to care at Cedars-Sinai.

"It's rewarding knowing that I'm helping many people," Bentley said. "Not just the Jewish people, but everybody. The idea of quality and compassionate care is very important to me."

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