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Dr. Steven Zax


1938 - 2017 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Dr.  Steven Zax Obituary
Dr. Steven Zax
1938-2017
Dr. Steven Zax, a native son of Houston, Texas, who went on to open a successful and world renowned plastic and reconstructive surgery practice in Beverly Hills, California, died last Sunday the 8th of January in Los Angeles. He was 78 years old.
Zax was born in 1938, first and only son to Emile and Bayla Zax, themselves the children of Lithuanian emigres who came to the United States via the Port of Galveston at the turn of the century. Zax spent his childhood in Houston where he attended public schools and where earned a reputation as a bit of a hard-charging rapscallion, showed athletic talent as an amateur baseball player, and developed a passionate interest in literature and the arts.
The future surgeon left Texas to attend Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where he majored in English Literature as an undergraduate. Zax ultimately chose to pursue a career in medicine however, following in the footstep of his father Emile who was also a prominent General Practitioner, and he returned to Houston after college to attend medical school at Baylor University. Zax then went on to perform his internship at Charity Hospital at Tulane University in New Orleans, and his residency at the University of San Francisco, California.
During the Vietnam war Zax was enlisted in the Air Force Reserves where he served at March Air Force Base. He was honorably discharged with the rank of Major. After his service in the military Zax gravitated to more bohemian pursuits, best illustrated by his foray into the music industry where he produced albums for the psychedelic rock band 'Fever Tree'. He also volunteered his time at the City of Hope, a not-for-profit cancer treatment center located in Southern California.
In 1968 Zax met and married Corinna Tsopei, a former Ms. Universe from Greece, and together they had 3 children. Zax and Tsopei eventually divorced after a ten year marriage, and Zax's subsequent second marriage to Australian model Jenny Rivas was short-lived. Although he never married again Zax found a lasting love and partnership with Michelle Phillips of Mamas and Papas fame, and their 16 year relationship lasted until Zax's death.
Zax was among the elite ranks of plastic and reconstructive surgeons who became behind-the-scenes celebrities in their own right, practicing cutting edge aesthetic surgical techniques just as the discipline was beginning to emerge in the 1960s. During the heyday of a practice that spanned over four decades Zax's reputation grew to International prominence, and his patients comprised a virtual Who's Who' of actors, models, musical artists, and even politicians'. Zax remained guarded about the confidentiality of his patients however, valuing not only privacy but also discretion in terms of the outcome of his work. He championed a light-handed and natural approach to surgery, one that achieved the patients' aims but that did not betray the work of the surgeon. If the patient looked like they had had work done, he believed, then the surgery was not a success.
In addition to his passion for his medical practice, Zax was also an avid collector of classic automobiles, first edition books and primitive art. He coached his sons baseball and soccer teams and enjoyed river and stream fishing, an abiding enthusiasm from his boyhood days in Texas. He is survived by his longtime partner Michelle Phillips, and his three children from his first marriage, Andrew, Steven and Paris Zax, and three grandchildren Eli, Petra and Luca Zax.
Published in Houston Chronicle on Jan. 22, 2017
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