Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Billionaire Poet Dad Had an Amazing Life

Oriana Schwindt
Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Billionaire Poet Dad Had an Amazing Life

In an emotional acceptance speech Sunday night, six-time Emmy winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus praised her father, William Louis-Dreyfus, who died Friday at the age of 84.

“I’m so glad he liked ‘Veep,’ because his opinion was the one that really mattered,” his daughter said.

William (né Gérard) Louis-Dreyfus lived an outsized life. The scion of a Jewish Frenchman who fought in the resistance against German occupation and a mother of Mexican and Portuguese descent, he moved to the U.S. in 1940 with his mother after his parents divorced.

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He attended Duke University and Duke Law School, and worked as a lawyer at Dewey Ballantine before joining his father’s company, French agricultural and mercantile conglomerate the Louis Dreyfus-Group, which is the world’s largest trader of cotton and rice.

His heart ran to poetry, though, and he was president of the Poetry Society of America for a decade, from 1998 to 2008. His poetry ran in publications like The Hudson Review.

William also inherited a vast fortune from his father’s company. In 2012, he bought a full-page ad in the New York Times encouraging his fellow one-percenters to donate to efforts to thwart the passage of voter suppression laws, contributing $1 million to the cause.

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