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Music Man: Charles Koppelman

Mervyn Rothstein
From the Print Edition:
Winston Churchill, Autumn 93

(continued from page 2)

"I can't tell you that I'm a cigar aficionado," he continues, perhaps ignoring the fact that he has not one but two humidors on the window sill behind his desk (the other, in brown and blond wood, is from Dunhill and contains under its lid a plaque from the Connoisseur's Humidor Society). "But I can tell you that I love to smoke cigars. It's incredibly relaxing. And I like the taste."

He has from time to time tried other cigars, he says. "I'm not a Cuban snob. I'll try a Dominican cigar. But I just keep gravitating back to the Cohibas. To me they're the best."

Another of his loves, as his suspenders suggest, is golf--in part because it recalls the sporting life of his childhood. "I've been playing about seven or eight years," he says, "but I've only been serious about it for the past two or three. In the beginning, I played infrequently, no more than ten times a year. Now I play every chance I get. Yesterday I had the best score I've ever made. I shot an 87. So I'm making real progress."

What he loves most about the game, he says, is the competition--the inner contest. "I'm very competitive," he says, "and golf is a terrific way to be competitive within yourself. It's a great feeling to hit a pure shot. I loved to play basketball and to shoot the ball, and the skills in putting the ball in the hoop or putting the ball in the cup are not that dissimilar. I also used to love batting in stickball, making contact with the ball and being able to put it where I wanted to put it. Golf really combines so many of the sports I enjoyed when I was a kid."

Koppelman lives in Roslyn Harbor, Long Island. He and his wife, Bunny, have three children. "Two of them are married," he says. "And all three are now in law school."

His corporate life is quintessentially bicoastal. He spends a week or so every month presiding over the company's Hollywood office in the Capitol Tower on the legendary corner of Hollywood and Vine. Commuting is accomplished by means of a chartered private jet. He stays in the presidential suite at either the Hotel Bel-Air or the Peninsula Hotel, and as is only fitting for a chief executive, he has the services of a Bentley and a driver on the shores of both the Atlantic and the Pacific.

Because he has achieved so much in his career, it is natural to wonder whether anything is missing: Is there something he wants to do that he has not yet done?

He reflects for a moment. "I don't think so," he says, sounding like a prototypically superconfident and accomplished CEO.

Is he absolutely sure?

He ponders again. He glances quickly at his suspenders, and then toward the shelf that holds a newspaper reproduction of a portrait of him at golf, painted by sports artist LeRoy Neiman. He smiles.


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