PHOTO: Travel business legend Miriam Rand at her 95th birthday celebration at Crystal Cruises Headquarters in Los Angeles.
Legendary Beverly Hills travel agent Miriam Rand, who worked in the industry for seven decades and booked travel for Hollywood’s biggest stars, died in late February at age 100.
She and her husband, Howard, opened Rand-Fields Travel Service in Beverly Hills, Calif., in 1949; it became a division of Protravel International in 2002. Over the years, she counted many Hollywood stars as clients, including Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe.
“It is with very heavy hearts we announce that our dear long-time colleague Miriam Rand has passed away,” Protravel International President Gail Grimmett wrote in an email. “An industry veteran for close to a breathtaking 70 years, Miriam was an institution in her own right.…Miriam and her expert counsel and care were beyond legendary. It is no wonder she was known as ‘The First Lady of Luxury.’”
Miriam Rand was respected and loved by clients, travel company executives and her colleagues, who honored her for her many milestones.
Along with several hundred of her closest friends, show biz celebrities and a Who’s-Who of the travel industry, I attended her 90th birthday celebration at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills in 2006. True to form, Rand insisted that the event be more than a birthday party – it raised more than $100,000 for a scholarship fund at her alma mater, Hunter College High School in New York. The scholarships were used to help students travel overseas on school-sponsored trips.
“You’ve done so much to elevate this profession,” Virtuoso CEO Matthew Upchurch told Rand at the celebration. “We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
The 90th birthday party attendees were entertained by comedian Arte Johnson, who performed on the TV show “Laugh-In” and was a long-time client of Rand’s.
Five years later, in 2011, Rand celebrated her 95th birthday at Crystal Cruises’ Los Angeles headquarters. She was a top producer for the luxury line, whose executives feted her with two cakes. Rand blew out the candles while wearing a tiara and a pink boa! At that time, Rand still went to her Beverly Hills office every day.
Throughout the years, she has given back to the industry through local travel organizations such as Prost and was always kind and generous with her time and knowledge. She was, quite simply, the quintessential businesswoman, always impeccably dressed, quick with a quip, and the life of any party. Rand was an inspiration and a role model for all travel agents and, indeed, all professional women—whatever the industry.
“I know I speak for everyone in noting just how much Miriam and her enormous contributions to our industry and her friendship to so many will be missed,” Grimmett said.
Protravel, which created the Miriam Rand Travel Fund in 2006, said donations made out to The Hunter College Foundation in her memory can be sent to Francesca Bacon, The Hunter College Foundation, 695 Park Ave., Suite 1313E, New York, N.Y. 10065.