The MPTF Campaign, which we announced in February, is a fundraising effort targeting $350 million in contributions through a combination of legacy ($200 million) and cash gifts ($150 million). Jeffrrey Katzenberg and George Clooney are co-chairing the effort on behalf of MPTF. Recently announced were a $30 million legacy gift from the Diller-Von Furstenberg Foundation (Barry Diller and Diane Von Furstenberg) and multi-year $20 million cash gifts from Rupert and Wendi Murdoch/News Corp/Fox and The Douglas Foundation. Expect to see some other news in the next few weeks about other enormously generous industry leaders and organizations who are recognizing their success by giving back to the entertainment community.
Many industry members to whom I’ve spoken about the MPTF Campaign are confused about “legacy” gifts, so I thought I’d spend a little time on them and in fact talk about four such gifts that MPTF has received in the past. Legacy giving through an estate, after death, is a gift made with a tremendous amount of forethought and passion: a desire to make a difference and give back to the industry well beyond one’s own lifetime. MPTF has benefited over the years from such estate gifts from industry members who wish at least part of their legacy to be participating in sustaining the good works of our organization after they’re gone. Here are 4 of their stories.
Mrs. Gladys (Gee) Nicholl was a long-time benefactor of MPTF and the widow of television writer and producer Don Nicholl who was producer or executive producer on All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Three’s Company, and the Ropers among others. Because she knew of her husband’s love and commitment to MPTF, Gee supported us for many years after Don’s passing. The Nicholl Building, home of MPTF’s Toluca Lake Health Center, is just one manifestation of her generosity. Gee loved to hear the stats on the health center and understood that industry members were getting well and staying well thanks to the health center located near to where they lived or worked. In her estate after her passing, Gee left MPTF a very generous legacy gift to be used where it is most needed for future generations of industry workers and their families.
Actress and dancer Ann Miller first became involved with MPTF when she enrolled for Payroll Pledge in 1937. When she passed away in 2004, she left 75% of her estate to us as a testament to her love for the industry and her desire to help those in need. Over the years, Ann was a tremendous cheerleader for MPTF and made sure that all her friends in the industry knew about it and supported it. Two of her favorites were the Cinema Glamour Shop, where she donated hundreds of articles of clothing, shoes, and purses, and the Golden Boot awards, which honored her in 1992 for her years of dedication and service to the industry and to western films. Nicest of all, Ann was a frequent visitor to the MPTF Wasserman Campus, always wanting to stay in touch with old friends and see firsthand the wonderful work of MPTF.
Throughout his entertainment industry career, Walter Seltzer dedicated himself to the work of promoting and producing films (Soylent Green, One Eyed Jacks, The Warlord) and to the service of caring for entertainment community members as well. Starting in 1978 until just before his death, Walter served on the MPTF Board of Trustees and was an active fundraiser. He and his wife Mickey, an actor, were residents at MPTF before they passed away; Mickey’s parents, both actors, also resided at MPTF in their later years. To satisfy the Seltzers’ goal of “taking care of our own,” they chose to create a charitable gift annuity with us. After their death, we created the Mickey and Walter Seltzer Fund to support industry members in our long-term care unit.
We recently received a smaller but no less moving gift from the estate of Byron John Ellerbrock. “By,” as he was known to his many friends and colleagues in the industry, worked in various roles at MGM, and was instrumental in creating the MGM pension plan and then later the SAG health and pension plan as well. He was the SAG plan’s first administrator. His warm and generous personality made him a favorite of many. By set aside some money in the estate he left to his wife for MPTF and she in turn safeguarded it during her lifetime because she knew how much it meant to him. His daughter and son-in-law, Diana and Bill Johnson, recently hand-delivered the check on our campus to tell us how important MPTF was to Mr. Ellerbrock.
Four champions of MPTF who understood our mission and the need to support it so that it would be around forever. As the stewards not only of their gifts but more importantly of their passion and commitment, we continue to work very hard and responsibly to make them proud of who and what we are.