Beverly Sills (May 25, 1929 – July 2, 2007), fondly known as Bubbles to her many fans, was perhaps the best-known American opera singer in the 1960s and 1970s. She was famous for her performances in coloratura soprano roles in operas around the world and on recordings. After retiring from singing in 1980, she became the general manager of the New York City Opera. In 1994, she became the Chairman of Lincoln Center and then, in 2002, of the Metropolitan Opera, stepping down in 2005. Sills lent her celebrity to further her charity work for the prevention and treatment of birth defects. Sills underwent successful surgery for cancer in 1974, but succumbed to an aggressive form of lung cancer on July 2, 2007. She was 78 years old. Life and career Sills was born Belle Miriam Silverman in Brooklyn, New York to Shirley Bahn (née Sonia Markovna), a musician, and Morris Silverman, an insurance broker. Her parents were Jewish immigrants from Odessa and Bucharest, Romania. She was raised in Brooklyn, where she was known, among friends, as Bubbles Silverman. As a child, she spoke Yiddish, Russian, Romanian, French and English. Early career At the age of three, Sills won a Miss Beautiful Baby contest, in which she sang The Wedding of Jack and Jill. Beginning at age four, she performed professionally on the Saturday morning radio program, Rainbow House, as Bubbles Silverman. Sills began taking singing lessons with Estelle Liebling at the age of seven and a year later sang in the shor...
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