Elisabeth Coleman, early Jerry Brown press secretary was 68

elisabeth-coleman-calif.jpgElisabeth Coleman was a Vassar graduate at Newsweek when she became a plaintiff in a landmark 1970 sex discrimination complaint on behalf of women at the news magazine. She rose from researcher to correspondent in San Francisco, then in 1976 joined the governor's office as press secretary to Jerry Brown in his first term. From Elaine Woo's LAT obituary for Coleman:

The successful legal battle changed Coleman's life. She left Newsweek in 1973 to work as a reporter for KQED-TV in San Francisco and later for ABC News before going to work for Brown. A stunning redhead, she "carried herself with a New York, sophisticated elegance which was then unknown in Sacramento," recalled Llew Werner, then a top Brown aide.

She left Sacramento after marrying Rock Brynner, the son of actor Yul Brynner, in 1978. "The governor stood up for Elisabeth at our wedding," Brynner told The Times last week.

They were divorced in 1981....After her marriage, she moved back to New York, where she ran her own public relations firm for several years. In 1990 she joined American Express, retiring in 2004 as vice president in charge of communications. A devoted Buddhist, she was working on a memoir at the time of her death.

Coleman died June 20 in New York City after a short illness, the Times says. Friends knew her as Lala. Brown told Edith Lederer of AP that "Elisabeth was a wonderful woman. I really enjoyed working with her ... She made and kept many good friends over the years. A lot of people will miss her." On Facebook, former Newsweek correspondent in LA Martin Kasindorf says, "Lala was smart, beautiful and completely unforgettable at Newsweek and beyond. Her untimely death is yet another saddening sign that a great era, not to mention a once-great magazine, has passed."

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