NEW YORK — Funeral services were held Tuesday for Howard Gittis, vice chairman and chief administrative officer of MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc. and the key adviser to billionaire investor Ronald O. Perelman.
Gittis died in his sleep Sunday night at home in Manhattan, a MacAndrews spokeswoman said. He was 73. The cause of death had not been determined at press time.
Gittis played a key role at MacAndrews & Forbes, where he worked for 22 years, and his relationship with Perelman, the company's high-profile chairman and chief executive officer, spanned 30 years. The men worked so closely that their two offices shared an entire floor in MacAndrews & Forbes' Manhattan headquarters.
"Whether it was business, politics, law, family — or help with anything — he was the one to see," Perelman said in eulogizing Gittis during services at Manhattan's Central Synagogue. "He was my best friend, my brother and my closest adviser."
Gittis began his career as a lawyer in his hometown of Philadelphia, where he worked at the prestigious firm of Wolf, Block, Schorr and Solis-Cohen. He rose to become chairman. Perelman was one of his clients and he recruited Gittis to join his new company in New York. Gittis later became a board member of Revlon, which is owned by MacAndrews, as well as a member of Jones Apparel Group's board, among other companies.
He served for 27 years on the board of trustees at Temple University in Philadelphia, including six as chairman. The student center is named in his honor. Among Gittis' donations to the university was a $5 million pledge to create the Ronald O. Perelman Professorship in Entrepreneurial Finance in the Fox School of Business and Management, according to Temple's Web site.
Gittis is survived by four daughters: Caroline Werther, Hope Sheft, Marjorie Katz and Emily Lambert Gittis, and seven grandchildren.