Janet Salter
1922 - 2020
BORN
1922
DIED
2020
December 10, 1922 - October 31, 2020 Our Mom was enchanting all of her life. She had boyfriends coming and going and girlfriends staying. To most people, Mom was the funniest, liveliest, most exciting and glamorous woman they'd ever met. One of her young beaus carved her initials in his arm. She saw him when they were in their nineties and he rolled up his sleeve, thrilled to reveal his eighty-year old scar. Mom kissed him on the cheek and he turned red. In addition to boys swarming her, W.C. Fields gave Mom her first sauternes, saying, "My dear child, note the date I started you on the right road in life! Drink up!"Mom was born when Warren G. Harding was president. There aren't many of those folks around now, especially someone like Janet Salter who was politically active before she could vote. She hung out with presidents Ford, Reagan and Clinton and met "should-have-been-president" Al Gore and "better-be-president" Joe Biden. She and her husband, the Honorable Max Salter, former Mayor of Beverly Hills (the pinnacle of Dad's life), met Joe in the seventies and gave him his first L.A. fundraiser and many thereafter. One of the highlights of Mom's life was when she and Dad achieved the honor of being on Nixon's Enemies' List. When Mom wasn't thinking about how to improve her children (three); grandchildren (twelve); or great-grandchildren (fourteen), she was thinking about trouncing Trump. Her first vote was for FDR in 1940 and, in the final action of her life, she scratched her name on the outside of her ballot and carefully filled in the circle for Joe Biden. She proudly wore her "I Voted" sticker as she lay on her deathbed. When the end was near, we said, "Mom! Ninety-one million people voted for Joe and most of them were Democrats! He'll be our next President for sure!" She opened her eyes and they smiled. So, Biden better win or Mom will come back to harangue us all. She didn't pass away on Halloween by accident.Mom accomplished so much in her life that, if you didn't know her, you wouldn't believe us. This was possible because Mom was literally never sick. Aspirin was the sole medication she took, even as she approached her ninety-eighth birthday. The only time we saw her in bed was for one day, after a surgery. Mom ignored the terrible pain she was in, choosing to continue directing a Sisterhood musical. Finally, she fainted and ended up with an emergency hysterectomy. She was back directing two days later, Mom being the most determined person in any room. She loved the shows at Temple Beth Am; one of her hits was "Have Yarmulke, Will Travel."Dad worked like a dog in the clothing business. By 1959, he felt solvent enough to pull us kids out of school, taking us to Israel to live on a Kibbutz. It was winter and Mom fed chickens while wearing her mink coat. Our parents traveled the world, meeting dignitaries wherever they went, memorably singing "Workers of the World Unite," to a Chinese hotshot when the country was still under a Communist regime.We moved to Beverly Hills where our parents felt really good about "making it." Mom, a talented artist, became a cartoonist and her "Ms. Bev Hills" ran in the B.H. Courier for over forty years. By far her best cartoon was "The Seven Deadly Sins of Beverly Hills," which included "Sloth - letting your roots show," and "Pride - falsifying your dog's pedigree." She gave the most imaginative parties ever, including assorted Bark Mitzvahs for her many mutts.Mom and Dad noticed that their friends' children weren't getting married, so they started the Salter's Singles Group. Young Jewish men and women were invited to Friday nights at the Salters - free food, free third tier booze and lots of possibilities. At each event, Dad stood on a chair and yelled, "Jews! Get Married and Procreate… in any order!" Mom would pull Dad down from the chair and ask him to behave. Still, there were dozens of marriages and lots of little Max and Janet babies born during those years.When Dad decided to run for Mayor, his champion was Mom. She did everything to ensure his victory and the two of them had eight exciting years leading the city they both loved. Mom was on lots of commissions, but enjoyed the Fine Arts Commission the most.Early on, she became part of the Beverly Hills Theatre Guild, which honored comedians, actors and singers and raised funds for struggling playwrights. Mom chaired the group for decades, only stepping down when she hit ninety-five. Although each year after the big event Dad threatened divorce if she didn't quit, she knew he was kidding. He wasn't, but, of course, he stayed. Not by choice he left in 2010 and she's been angry about that ever since.Mom went to plays, operas, symphonies, political events, charity fund-raisers, weddings, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, funerals (Three in one day at Hillside!), movies, graduations, birthdays, reunions, showers, breakfasts, brunches, lunches, teas, cocktail parties, book-signings, poetry-reading and more. This is not a lifetime list; this is a week-in-the-life-of list.Once she was single, Mom had boyfriends coming and going. Her pace was more relaxed but she was still game for whatever was out there; she didn't want to miss a thing. However, around Rosh Ha Shana, Mom changed. She became slower, quieter and calmer. The family was distraught because we thought Mom, formidable Mom, was forever. If not, who would tell us girls to get better eyelashes or us guys to wear shoes? Life without Mom was unthinkable. Her decline continued but she kept her humor to the very end. Granddaughter Susan said, "Grandma, you look great! How did you lose weight?" "By playing dead," answered Granny Janet.On their Ruby anniversary, Dad sang the same song he crooned to his wife every June 3rd: "Forty years married to the same woman is more than a man can bear!" In truth, although Mom and Dad had sixty-eight years together, it wasn't nearly enough. By now they are happily reunited, but, not to worry, neither is resting in peace. In fact, wherever they are, they're making quite a ruckus.With love from,Pepper Salter EdmistonMike SalterLaura ShieldsIf you wish to honor Janet, please send a gift to the charity of your choice or to "Happy Trails for Kids", 2525 Ocean Park Blvd, Suite 104, Santa Monica, CA 90405 Attn: The Salter Scholarship Fund.


Published by Los Angeles Times on Nov. 8, 2020.
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3 Entries
Pepper -- what a wonderful tribute to your mother. I miss both her and your dad. They helped so many people, supported so many worthy causes and gave me (I lived over their garage while at UCLA) the opportunity to experience a world and a perspective on life that helped me lift my aspirations and gave me courage to reach. Thank you Janet and thank you Max! My best to you, Michael, Laura, et al. Wes Clark
Wes Clark
Friend
July 23, 2021
Pepper, you have captured the essence of your mom so lovely in your words. What a woman! How fortunate you all are. Condolences to all the family. Rest in power Janet
Renee Plummer
Friend
November 24, 2020
Dear Pepper,
I’m so sorry to hear of Janet’s passing. She was fun, I remember from all those years ago.
Barbara Lawrence
Acquaintance
November 22, 2020
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