James Aljian, a longtime associate of MGM Mirage majority stockholder Kirk Kerkorian and one of the gaming company’s original board members, died of cancer late Thursday in Southern California.
Aljian, 75, had been a member of the MGM Mirage board of directors since 1988 and a close associate of Kerkorian, an 89-year-old Los Angeles billionaire and founder of MGM Mirage, for 46 years.
A resident of Marina del Rey, Aljian was part of the company that developed several major Las Vegas resorts in the 1960s and 1970s, including Caesars Palace, the Flamingo, the International (now the Las Vegas Hilton) and the original MGM Grand (now Bally’s Las Vegas).
“I first met Jim in 1961 when he was an auditor with Ernst & Ernst,” Kerkorian said in a prepared statement released through Tracinda Corp., his privately held investment company. “He was tough and I knew right away that I needed him on my team. Jim’s loyal confidence and business acumen proved invaluable to me over the years, but no more valuable than his friendship, which meant so much. I will miss him more than I care to think about.”
Aljian had served on the board of directors of MGM Mirage since Kerkorian began the company by building the current MGM Grand. MGM Mirage now operates 10 Strip resorts and is building the $7 billion Project CityCenter.
“Jim played an invaluable role on our board and he will be very sadly missed,” MGM Mirage Chairman Terry Lanni said in a prepared statement.
In addition to his role with MGM Mirage, Aljian was an active executive with Tracinda Corp. and chairman of the Lincy Foundation, a charitable organization that supports numerous causes internationally. He was the former senior vice president of finance for MGM Studios and MGM/UA Entertainment.
Aljian previously served on the boards of Western Airlines, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., Southwest Leasing, MGM Grand Hotel, MGM Studios, MGM/UA Entertainment, Chrysler Corp. and DaimlerChrysler AG.
For more than 30 years, Aljian was a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Aljian was born in Oakland, Calif. He held a bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley and a master’s degree in business administration from Golden Gate University in San Francisco. He was licensed as a certified public accountant and a member of the American Institute of CPAs.
Aljian was a decorated marksman in the United States Army’s 3rd Infantry Division.
He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Marjorie; his sister, Nancy Ashe. and brother, William Peter Aljian; his children, Mark Aljian, Anne Trinklein and Reed Aljian; and six grandchildren.
Services will be at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in Beverly Hills, Calif., at Good Shepherd Catholic Church, 505 N. Bedford Drive.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to The UCLA Foundation for the James Aljian Memorial Fund at the David Geffen School of Medicine, 10945 Le Conte Ave., Suite 3132, Los Angeles, Calif. 90095.