Community leader, artist, newspaper drama critic, and host of a popular radio program in Philadelphia, Lee Weiss Frank was born in Newton Falls, Ohio, on May 16, 1899, the elder of two daughters born to Adolph and Eugenia (Guttman) Weiss.
She attended Swarthmore College, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated in 1921. She also studied painting and sculpture at the Philadelphia Museum of Art School. Swarthmore College provided a congenial setting for Frank at a time when universities and colleges throughout the nation had established tacit quotas to limit the number of Jewish students. An active member of the Swarthmore community after graduation, she served as a member of the board of the college’s alumnae association.
In 1921, she became a feature writer for the Ledger newspaper syndicate. Her cultural affairs column appeared in the Philadelphia Ledger and in newspapers in New York City. In 1923, she married Victor H. Frank, a prominent oral surgeon in Philadelphia. The Franks had two children, Victor, Jr. and Patricia, and were members of Philadelphia’s Congregation Ritual bathMikveh Israel.
As the host of the Annenberg Syndicate’s WFIL Radio’s “Tea with Lee” program, Frank marked her debut as a radio drama critic in the 1930s. Her popular program evolved to include interviews with national celebrities.
A prominent public figure in Philadelphia, Frank served as chair of the Women’s Committee of the Philadelphia Forum, a cultural and charitable organization. Frank was also active in the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, serving as chair of its Children’s Play Committee in the 1930s and 1940s. Frank’s interest in the well-being of children also led to her participation as a special writer for the Child Health Association of New York. After World War II, Frank served as radio chairperson of the United Nations Council of Philadelphia. In this role, Frank was an ardent proponent of the new State of Israel. An active member of the World Affairs Council and the United World Federalists, Frank’s affiliations indicated a commitment to peace, cooperation, and international understanding.
Fine art was an important part of Lee Weiss Frank’s life. Her works in oil and watercolor were exhibited throughout the Philadelphia area and were included in over 150 private collections, including purchases by Princess Grace of Monaco and Carlos Pena Romulo, Philippine delegate to the United Nations.
Lee Weiss Frank died in Philadelphia on July 22, 1967. In 1980 an exhibit of her paintings at Swarthmore coincided with the creation of a scholarship fund established by her daughter, Patricia Frank Carey, in her memory.
Chijioke, Mary Ellen. Telephone interview with author; Frank, Lee Weiss. File. Friends Historical Association Library, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pa.; Obituary. NYTimes, July 23, 1967, 60:8; WWIAJ (1938).
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Rego, David Alan. "Lee Weiss Frank." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 27 February 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on July 15, 2020) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/frank-lee-weiss>.