Fame and charity

This post is inspired by my friend Jacqui, who writes a much nobler blog than this entitled Seattle Samaritan, where she talks about philanthropy and activism. You know, important stuff. Not like what we usually talk about around here. Anyway, one of her recent entries focused on athletes taking part in the Super Bowl who have founded charities, and it got me thinking about Hollywood’s attitude toward charity. Many, many Hollywood celebrities over the years have done a lot of great work with their fame and fortune. It’s easy to name stars and their pet causes, from ol’ reliable types like Paul Newman to newer trailblazers like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. And sure, sometimes it’s easy to feel a little cynical, like some celebs are just trying to improve their image (yeah, take that trip to Darfur, Paris Hilton) or seem to be getting a bit of an ego about their charitable work (um, the aforementioned Angelina). But overall, I say “yay!” for celebrity charity.  Eat Newman’s Own, and visit the ONE campaign.

There are also a lot of not-George-Clooney-types of celebrities out there who are doing good work, but don’t get the same level of exposure for their causes. I really have a fondness for these people, who’ve used their moderate or cult level fame to start their own foundations. A few of my favorite examples:

–Louis Gossett, Jr. founded the Eracism Foundation. Awful pun in the name aside, fighting against discrimination is always important. This especially delights me because I will always think of him as the pregnant male alien in Enemy Mine, which in the end is a movie all about tolerance.

–Adrian Paul founded The PEACE Fund, which focuses on raising money for charities that help children in poverty. Being Highlander and all, Adrian Paul was clearly already an awesome human being (sing it with me now: “I have inside me blood of kings!”), but this gives me a whole new level of respect for him.

–Fran Drescher started the Cancer Schmancer Movement, which aims specifically to improve women’s health care issues that could help more women have their cancers diagnosed early enough for effective treatment. People may make fun of her voice, but I think she’s using it for an important cause.

I’m sure there are many more celebrities doing great work and not exactly getting Bono-levels of publicity for their causes. If you have any favorite examples, please share in the comments. Also, if you’re interested in this topic, the site Look to the Stars is a great resource.


1 Response to “Fame and charity”

  1. 1 Becca February 5, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    I submit for your considerationBritney Spears and Tyra Banks.

    Then, in more realistic news, there is Martin Scorsese’s foundation for film preservation (which Clint Eastwood is all about, too) and that foundation Sting and his wife have for environmental protection.

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