PHILADELPHIA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Roberts family announces with great sadness that Suzanne Fleisher Roberts died of natural causes on April 20, 2020 in Philadelphia, PA. She was 98.
The Roberts family said in a statement:
“Suzanne was a remarkable mother, grandmother and great-grandmother whose energy, spirit, humor, kindness and determination were admired by all who knew her. She had an amazing and inspirational life filled with friends and family and so much purpose. The life she shared with her husband Ralph for 72 years was extraordinary. Together, they followed their dreams and gave back to their beloved community by helping so many. Besides Ralph and their extended family, the arts were Suzanne’s greatest passion. An actress herself, she devoted much of her life to supporting the theater and the performing arts and we are incredibly proud of the profound and lasting impact she had on people and organizations across the region both through her philanthropy and her show, “Seeking Solutions.” Suzanne lived a wonderful, long life full of love and adventure. We will miss her greatly.”
Suzanne is survived by four of her five children and their spouses: Catherine R. Clifton and Anthony A. Clifton, Lisa S. Roberts and David Seltzer, Ralph J. Roberts Jr., Brian L. Roberts and Aileen K. Roberts, and Diane Roberts, widow of Ralph and Suzanne’s son Douglas, who passed away in September of 2011. She is also survived by her eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Susanne’s life will be celebrated after the effects of COVID-19 have passed. We want to express our thanks for all the love and support we have received. She will indeed be missed.
An award-winning actress, director, producer and television host, Suzanne Roberts spent a lifetime seeking to help others – using her skills, talent and creativity in innovative ways that have marked a career of leadership in public and community service.
A Philadelphia native, Suzanne Roberts’ commitment to giving back was instilled early on in her life. Suzanne’s father was a real estate entrepreneur who was instrumental in prison reform in Philadelphia. His death, when Suzanne was seven years old cemented her commitment to serve. For years afterward, on the anniversary of his death she imagined his asking, “What have you been doing to help someone else?” And she made sure she always had a good answer.
Suzanne’s extensive acting experience served as a springboard for an array of public service involvement, from USO shows to national plays dealing with racism and alcoholism, from award-winning achievements in radio to the creation of groundbreaking political television programming which resulted in her book, The Candidate and Television, distributed to both parties.
As a sought-after theater actress, Suzanne played many memorable roles including Bessie Burgess in The Plough and the Stars, Kate in The Taming of the Shrew and Melissa Gardner in Love Letters. But she often said she landed the role of a lifetime when she became Mrs. Ralph Roberts.
During their 72-year marriage, Ralph and Suzanne raised five children and lived a life full of “romance and fun” according to Suzanne. She often recounted how Ralph never missed a performance of hers, often seeing the same show for weeks, and crying every time.
Suzanne received international recognition for her landmark psychotherapy work with emotionally disturbed Navajo children, undertaken during a family summer spent on the Navajo Indian Reservation, which led to a documentary film, Discoveries in Communication, and worldwide lectures to governmental and medical institutions; as well as her advocacy for at-risk children and teens. In her mid-fifties, she went back to school, completing her bachelor’s degree. She went on to receive a Master of Arts Degree in Human Services and Therapeutic Counseling at Antioch University, while continuing to mentor children. Later she served on the faculty of Hahnemann University Hospital.
Recognizing the dearth of quality television programming for older adults, Suzanne created Seeking Solutions with Suzanne in 2000 – and a new career for herself at the age of nearly eighty. As the Emmy Award-winning creator and host of this nationally broadcast weekly information/entertainment show targeted to an older audience, Suzanne Roberts became a role model of graceful aging as she provided both Boomers and Seniors information and insight on ways to enrich their lives, expand their horizons, and broaden their medical knowledge to improve their health.
In nearly two thousand segments aired during its twenty-year run, Seeking Solutions with Suzanne covered issues and topics that ran the gamut from Alzheimer’s Disease to Pilates, same-sex marriage to how to do a self-breast exam. Fearless and forthright, Suzanne demonstrated everything from belly-dancing to performing with the Opera Company of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Ballet, riding a Harley, and even filming her own cataract removal surgery, endoscopy and treatment for macular degeneration. Seeking to provide viewers with adventurous new experiences and information, Suzanne’s motto was, “If I can do it, you can too!” And the results garnered numerous awards, including the prestigious 2002 Beacon Award for Best Public Affairs Series, two Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards for Outstanding Host, two Telly Awards for Excellence in Television and many additional Emmy nominations.
A sought-after speaker, she has been the recipient of numerous awards, including honorary doctorates from Drexel and Arcadia Universities; the Eastern Pennsylvania Geriatric Society Lifetime Achievement Award and the Women’s Image Network (WIN) Lifetime Achievement Award.
In addition to her work in television, Suzanne maintained her passion for and involvement in the theater and arts community, establishing the Suzanne Roberts Cultural Development Fund, a division of the Suzanne and Ralph Roberts Foundation, to support theater and dance organizations. She is now one of the largest private supporters of performing arts organizations in the region. In 2007 she was humbled to be recognized as the namesake of the new home of the Philadelphia Theatre Company, and Philadelphia’s first new theater in a decade – the Suzanne Roberts Theatre.
In 2014 she and Ralph were honored with the Philadelphia Award, in recognition of their lifetime contributions to the City of Philadelphia in the worlds of business, philanthropy and arts and culture. Most recently, she was thrilled to be awarded a place in the Guinness World Records as the Oldest Talk Show Host at 98 years old.
Executive Producer/Director, Seeking Solutions with Suzanne