Beverly Sills, from her professional debut at the age of three as Bubbles Silverman on Uncle Bob’s Rainbow House radio show, made the performing arts accessible to generations of Americans.
With her brilliant runs and trills, she became one of the most beloved and respected sopranos in the 20th century. Sills delighted audiences around the world with her talent and charisma. A member of the New York City Opera from 1955 to 1980, she performed in the world’s leading opera houses, recorded 18 full-length operas and numerous solo collections, and appeared in hundreds of television programs. In addition to the many awards for her albums, Sills received four Emmys for her weekly television program, Lifestyles with Beverly Sills. Her autobiography, Bubbles: A Self -Portrait, became a bestseller. Under her leadership at the New York City Opera, opera became accessible to the masses when she introduced to American audiences the use of subtitles for all foreign language productions — a method soon adopted in opera houses around the world.
After retirement from performing, Sills served as General Director and then President of the New York City Opera. In 1993, she became the first woman, the first performing artist and the first former head of an arts company to become chair of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, which encompasses 11 world-renowned institutions, including the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic and the New York City Ballet.
Sills also was actively involved in a myriad of charities and organizations, including the National Victim Center, the Hebrew Home for the Aged at Riverdale, and the March of Dimes Mother’s March on Birth Defects, for which she served as national chair. She was also a member of the boards of several foundations and corporations.