- History of WIFT -
WOMEN IN FILM AND TELEVISION INTERNATIONAL
- Los Angeles 1973 -
TICHI WILKERSON KASSEL
Founder - Women in Film, Los Angeles (1973)
The first chapter of Women in Film is founded in Los Angeles by The Hollywood Reporter‘s Tichi Wilkerson. The group would serve as a power network to counterbalance the LA old boy’s network. Today, there are around 50 WIFT and WIFT-partner chapters on six continents – all working for the same goal: gender balance in the industry.
Kassel was born Beatrice Ruby Noble in Los Angeles on May 11, 1926. She was raised in Mexico City and returned to Los Angeles as a teenager. Tichi's mother was a maid for William "Billy" Wilkerson, founder, publisher and editor of The Hollywood Reporter newspaper. Wilkerson courted Tichi and they were married on February 23, 1951 in Phoenix, Arizona; he was in his 60s and she was 25. Soon after their marriage, she started to work at the trade paper. When Wilkerson died in 1962, she took over as the paper's second editor and publisher.
After Wilkerson's death, she married realtor William Miles. The couple divorced in 1982, and in 1983 she married Arthur Kassel. In 1971, Wilkerson Kassel started the Key Art Awards, which annually honor outstanding achievement in motion picture and TV advertising and promotion; and the Marketing Concepts Awards, which offers recognition and cash rewards to motion picture exhibitors who develop and originate innovative and effective marketing campaigns.
In 1973, Tichi founded Women in Film ("WIF") in Los Angeles after learning that only 2% of TV scripts were made by women. The non-profit foundation helps women in the film business by mentoring and opening up opportunities. Today there are more than 40 WIF chapters in 18 countries and the organization has 10,000 members. The organization has expanded to include television as well, for example The Central Florida Chapter of Women in Film and Television, established in 1989.
Wilkerson Kassel started the Wilkerson Foundation, which provides scholarships to film and journalism students at Southern California universities; it merged with the World Film Institute in 1995. She also created scholarships at the Hollywood Women's Press Club and the Los Angeles Police Department, and established a community center and educational program for Olvera Street in Los Angeles.
In the 1980s, Wilkerson Kassel created the "Special Issue," an entire section of The Hollywood Reporter set aside to tribute an individual or entertainment industry phenomenon. Other publications followed her lead, and such issues today are common. In the mid-1980s, she helped make Beverly Hills and Cannes sister cities, recognizing their entertainment and commercial commonalties. For that accomplishment, she was feted at the 1985 Cannes Film Festival.
In 1988, Tichi published her memoir, Hollywood Legends: The golden years of the Hollywood Reporter. That same year, she was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and left her post as The Hollywood Reporter's publisher. She sold the paper on April 11, 1988, to trade publishers BPI for $26.7 million.
In 2002, Tichi and her husband Arthur Kassel founded the Tichi Wilkerson Kassel Parkinson's Foundation to raise money for research.
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