Michael Stars, Inc. founder Michael Cohen has died. Cohen, who had been battling prostate cancer, died Friday at his home in Manhattan Beach, Calif. He was 79.

Cohen was born October 16, 1935 in Cape Town, South Africa. After graduating from South African College High School, Cohen attended the University of Cape TownHe started his career in the apparel industry in 1956 at the age of 21, founding the South African import-export fashion agency, Bernstein & Cohen.

In 1977, he immigrated to the United States, where he met Suzanne Lerner.  In 1986, the couple co-founded Michael Stars and together pioneered a company devoted to creating the perfect t-shirt. Cohen and Lerner married in 1988 and over the next two decades, developed Michael Stars into one of the first contemporary t-shirt brands, and more recently, into a California lifestyle collection of luxe basics for women and men. 

In 2005, he and Lerner launched the Michael Stars Foundation to support education, human rights and other philanthropic causes. Cohen’s hobbies included playing the bongo drums and spending time at his home in Mykonos. 

He is survived by his wife Suzanne Lerner; son Simon and daughter Lisa; siblings Stuart, Imre and Yvonne; and grandchildren Mischa and Jackson. 

Services will be private and in lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made in Cohen’s honor to one of the following charities:

Providence Little Company of Mary Foundation

UCLA Institute of Urologic Oncology Research Fund

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