Spencer Beglarian, a beloved educator, award-winning screenwriter, actor, director, and producer, died on April 19, 2011, of lung cancer, at his home in Los Angeles, surrounded by family and friends. He was 50.
Mr. Beglarian taught on the faculties of Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM), the USC Language Academy and the Marshall School of Business (IBEAR), and the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) with extraordinary dedication and passion.
Mr. Beglarian joined the faculty of Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in 1994 where he taught classes ranging from Critical Thinking and Effective Speaking, through multi-level English Composition and Business Writing. “Spencer gave so much, and will be remembered for the love, laughter and learning he gave to us all,” said Jayne Osborne, former Assistant Chair for Interior Design and Apparel Industry Management. “Plain and simple, Spencer embodied the essence of good teaching: humanity plus rigor,” added Sheryl Rabinovich, Dean of Education and Chairperson of General Studies. Mr. Beglarian cherished the creativity, visual aesthetics and deep curiosity of the students. “They are innovators, risk-takers and early adopters,” he reflected.
In 2006, Mr. Beglarian added USC to his teaching portfolio, where he taught in the International MBA program (IBEAR) as well as the Summer Law and English Program (SLE) and the USC Language Academy’s intensive English programs. He created online and in-class courses specializing in Speech, Accent Reduction, and Professional Writing. He tutored many MBA students in one-on-one and workshop formats in professional skills such as networking, business culture, etiquette, cover letter/resume and effective interviewing and is credited by his students as being instrumental in their landing impressive positions both here and abroad. “Spencer was among the most generous instructors we’ve ever had, with his time, his intelligence, and his spirit. His students were at the heart of every moment, both in and out of the classroom,” said Kate O’Connor, Director of the USC Language Academy.
Spencer Beglarian also joined the faculty of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in 2008. “Spencer’s contribution to AMDA LA and to the AMDA community was profound and on-going,” said AMDA Executive Director, Jan Martin. Spencer was an active Education Department member, advisor, mentor and creative projects contributor. Mr. Beglarian’s teaching included a diverse array of courses in both the academic and performing arts worlds. He was known also for his guidance of students in the writing and development of original scripts for both the stage and film venues, ultimately including the actual development and production of short films. Recently, he had assumed a new position as the Academic Dean of the Critical Studies Department.
Spencer’s infectious energy and passion for education are captured in his own words, “The more I teach, the more I learn. Students always inspire me to keep informed of everything from music to fashion to business and technology. I forever strive to use the classroom as a relevant, real-world environment in which students are respected, engaged and challenged to gain the skills necessary for lifelong success in academics, business and life.”
Born in Ridgewood, NJ, on December 15, 1960, Spencer Paul Beglarian was the son of composer Grant Beglarian and musician Joyce Heeney Beglarian. The family moved to Los Angeles, CA in 1969, when his father became Dean of the School of Performing Arts at the University of Southern California (USC). A 1979 graduate of the Harvard School, he attended the USC School of Drama where he earned his BFA in 1983. He earned an MFA from the Yale School of Drama in 1986 before moving to New York where he attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He performed in several Yale Repertory Theater and Off-Broadway productions and taught Shakespeare and directed productions at inner-city schools in Harlem and the South Bronx.
In 1991 he returned to Los Angeles where he threw himself into acting, writing and directing for television and film. Mr. Beglarian produced documentaries, short films, educational videos, and a 13-episode, half-hour weekly TV series that aired on an ABC affiliate. A member of SAG, AFTRA, and Actors’ Equity, he starred in films, including the short festival film, Just Don’t Do It, which he wrote. He had roles on Sabrina the Teenage Witch, The Division, Cybill, and Cheers, among other prime-time shows.
Mr. Beglarian’s own short films have been featured on Bravo and IFC, and he won many awards for his feature-length screenplays. He also served as an official juror for the Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films, which qualifies recipients for Academy Award consideration.
Spencer is survived by his sister, composer Eve Beglarian of New York City and Brandon, VT; his aunt Jeree Pawl and her partner Judith Pekarsky of San Francisco; his uncle Joseph Pawl of Beulah, MI; his cousins Amy Pawl and Frank Grady and their children Emma and Spencer Grady-Pawl of St. Louis; Meg and Dave Johnson and their children Victoria and Lillian Johnson of Farmington Hills, MI; and his great aunt and uncle Ireta and Roy T. Janiec of Bend, OR.
A memorial service will be held on May 7th, 2011, at 11 a.m. at Hollywood Forever, 6000 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90038. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Spencer’s memory to scholarship funds at the USC School of Theatre (The University of Southern California School of Theatre, 104 Drama Center, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0791 Attn: Chris Cook), at AMDA (AMDA (The American Musical and Dramatic Academy, 6305 Yucca Los Angeles, CA 90028, Attn: Dan DeShurley), and at FIDM (FIDM Scholarship Foundation, Inc. 919 South Grand Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90015 Attn: Katie Mace.)