This page lists Charity Awards International’s honor roll of celebrities-those who have served on the Awards Committee and participated in the Awards events over the years. Some are no longer with us and we honor their memory
Hank Aaron was our special guest at the very first Charity Awards Dinner. The Sporting News ranks Hank Aaron fifth on their list of “Baseball’s 100 Greatest Players.” “Hammerin’ Hank” is everyone’s favorite home run king. Blasting 755 home runs, he set a record that would stand for 31 years, until finally broken by Barry Bonds in 2008. Hank Aaron played consistent all star baseball for 22 years, earning Most Valuable Player, Gold Gloves Awards, and entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame the first year of his eligibility.
Christopher Atkins shot to fame when he starred with Brooke Shields in the huge box-office success, The Blue Lagoon. He went on to star in The Pirate Movie, a modern take on Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance.
Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner
U.S. champion figure skaters, the pair were five-time gold medalists at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships and won the gold medal at the 1979 World Figure Skating Championships. They were medal favorites at the 1980 Olympics but were forced to withdraw due to an injury to Gardner.
Josette Banzet is an American actress who was born in France to a noble family and is otherwise known as the Marquise de Bruyenne. She won a Golden Globe Award as Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Rich Man, Poor Man. Josette has spent countless hours collecting items from her celebrity friends to be auctioned for charities.
Debby Boone is a singer and stage actress, born to music icon Pat Boone and Shirley Lee Foley Boone (daughter of country music star, Red Foley.) When she was 14 years old, Debby began touring with her parents and three sisters, Cherry, Lindy and Laury. (Sister Cherry is the wife of Dan O’Neill, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board of Mercy Corps International, frequent recipient of Charity Awards Dinner proceeds.) Debby Boone is best known for “You Light Up My Life,” a song that became the biggest hit of the 1970’s and earned her 1977’s Top New Female Vocalist award. She also won two Dove Awards and three Grammys, and many nominations.
One of the biggest stars in the world in the 1950’s, music icon Pat Boone continues to entertain and perform today. He has sold over 45 million albums, had 38 top-40 hits and has starred in over a dozen popular Hollywood movies. He is a member of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Pat Boone has been a major supporter of the Charity Awards Dinner since its founding, and we are eternally grateful for his time, energy and kindness.
Glen Campbell is a country/pop singer and guitarist, with a list of hits on more than 70 albums. He has won a Grammy Award and a Dove Award, and was nominated twice for a Golden Globe. He won Male Vocalist of the Year and Entertainer of the Year. He also starred with John Wayne in True Grit, earning him a Golden Globe nomination for Most Promising Newcomer. In 2005, Glen Campbell was inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Lynda Carter will forever be loved as Wonder Woman. She continues to be so closely identified with Wonder Woman that producers have been unable to find a suitable actress to play the role in subsequent productions. She has even been able to poke fun at herself playing the principal in the school for superheroes in Sky High, saying, “I can’t do anything more to help you. I’m not Wonder Woman, y’know.”
Mike Connors is a Golden Globe winning actor, best known for playing detective Joe Mannix in the long-running television series, Mannix. He also starred in the series Tightrope and Today’s F.B.I.
Norm Crosby is a comedian best known for his use of fractured English, and is often called “The Master of Malaprop.” He often opened for top Las Vegas entertainers like Tom Jones, and has co-hosted the annual Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon since 1983.
Janet Dailey is a popular American author of numerous romance novels, and introduced romance novels set in the American West. She brought an autographed, unpublished copy of her latest novel for the charity auction.
A true original, Phyllis Diller hit the comedy stage wearing glittering mini dresses, shoe boots, wild hair, and a non-functional cigarette holder, telling stories about her husband, Fang, and cackling with mad laughter. She opened comedic doors for many women comedy stars of today. Phyllis came to the Charity Awards Dinner along with old pal, Bob Hope, and spent precious moments with the Dinner staff, seriously advising them, “You can do anything you put your mind to.”
Robert Duvall first came to notice as the enigmatic Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird. He has since appeared in The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now, The Natural, Network, MASH, The Great Santini, Tender Mercies, The Apostle, Sling Blade, and his personal favorite, Lonesome Dove. He has won two Academy Awards, with five more nominations for the Oscar, two Emmys (and nominations for two more), and four Golden Globe Awards (with nominations for two more). Married to Argentinean Luciana Pedraza, Robert Duvall and his wife are active supporters of Pro Mujer, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping Latin America’s poorest women help themselves through micro-credit, business training and healthcare linkages.
What began as a one day’s work as ‘Corporal Klinger’ in the hit television series, MASH, became an eleven-year career. Wearing dresses to convince the army he was crazy enough to get himself a Section 8 discharge, Jamie Farr played it so well, that he became a show favorite. When he came through the hospitality suite door at the Charity Awards Dinner, everyone laughed with joy. It was like seeing an old friend one hasn’t seen in a very long time.
Actress Joely Fisher landed her juiciest role as the vain and insensitive Paige Clark on the sitcom Ellen, for which she earned a Golden Globe nomination. She starred in Inspector Gadget, opposite Matthew Broderick, and in the drama series, Wild Card. She has also had a recurring role as Lynette’s bitchy boss, Nina, on Desperate Housewives. Since 2006, she has starred as Joy Stark in the Fox sitcom, ‘Til Death. (She is the daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Connie Stevens.)
Tim Foley played eleven seasons as a defensive back primarily with the Miami Dolphins. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 1979, and shares the Dolphins team record for most blocked punts in a season. After injuries forced a close to his athletic career, Tim began a successful business and continues helping others to succeed.
Roman Gabriel is the first Asian-American to start as an NFL quarterback and is considered by many to have been one of the best players at that position during the late 1960’s and 1970’s. He played for the Lost Angeles Rams and for the Philadelphia Eagles, and was a four time Pro Bowl selection, a Pro Bowl MVP and twice an NFL MVP. He is the Rams’ all time passing leader, and still holds the Rams’ career records for touchdown passes, passes attempted, and passes completed. Roman Gabriel has raised millions for dollars for various charities through RG Sports Connection Trust, through which he promotes celebrity golf tournaments.
Kathie Lee Gifford
Singer and actress Kathie Lee Gifford is best known for her 15-year run on the television talk show, Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, which she co-hosted with Regis Philbin, and for which she has received 11 Emmy nominations. Kathie Lee is also a celebrity ambassador for the non-profit organization, Childhelp. She and her husband, football great Frank Gifford, raised money to build, and continue to financially support, two shelters in New York City for babies born with HIV or a congenital crack cocaine addiction.
Mark Victor Hansen
Called “America’s Ambassador of Possibility,” Mark Victor Hansen captured everyone’s attention with his Chicken Soup for the Soul books. He has written many other human potential books, such as The Power of Focus, The Aladdin Factor, Dare to Win, and The One Minute Millionaire: The Enlightened Way to Wealth. He is a sought-after keynote and motivational speaker, and is the founder of MEGA Book Marketing University and Building Your MEGA Speaking Empire. He is also a passionate philanthropist and humanitarian, working tirelessly for organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, the American Red Cross, March of Dimes, Childhelp USA, and others.
Lisa Hartman brought her mother to the Charity Awards Dinner, and graciously urged others to eat simply in order that more funds go to the charities involved. At the time, she was starring in the primetime hit show, Knot’s Landing. Now, of course, she is married to Clint Black, recording her own albums as well as singing with her husband.
David Hasselhoff is an actor and singer who is best known for his lead roles in Knight Rider and Baywatch. He starred as co-judge on NBC’s America’s Got Talent, and frequently pokes fun at himself with tongue-in-cheek guest appearances and comedic commercials.
Anne Jeffreys is an actress and singer best loved for her starring role, with her husband, Robert Sterling, in the series Topper. She starred in many stage and movie musicals, and in the past few years has appeared in episodes of L.A. Law and Murder, She Wrote. She appeared in Baywatch as David Hasselhoff’s mother. Since 1984 she has appeared on the soap opera General Hospital as wealthy socialite, Amanda Barrington. She was nominated in 1972 for a Golden Globe for her work in The Delphi Bureau.
Canadian Ferguson Jenkins became one of the best pitchers in the major leagues, playing primarily for the Chicago Cubs. He was a three-time All-Star, winner of the 1971 Cy Young Award, and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991. An outstanding all-around athlete, Fergie played basketball as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters.
Stacy Keach is best known for his portrayals of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer
, but he has performed Shakespeare and starred in other tough roles in The New Centurions
with George C. Scott, as Barabbas in Jesus of Nazareth
, and as a white supremacist in American History X
. More recently, he has narrated episodes of Nova and National Geographic
, as well as World’s Most Amazing Videos
and American Greed
. Stacy Keach is the honorary chairman of the Cleft Palate Foundation, and advocates for insurance coverage for such surgeries. (www.cleftline.org
George Kennedy is an Academy Award-winning actor who has appeared in over 200 film and television productions. He is best known for his tough guy role as Dragline in Cool Hand Luke and as Joe Patroni in the Airport series of disaster movies. He also starred in the television series, Dallas. Later, he starred in the Naked Gun series, showing a fine comedic talent, as well.
Perhaps best known as one of Charlie’s Angels
, Cheryl Ladd replaced Farrah Fawcett and stayed until the end of the series. She has also starred in Broadway’s Annie Get Your Gun
, and in the television series, One West Waikiki
, and as the wife of the lead character in Las Vegas. Cheryl Ladd is a celebrity ambassador for the child abuse prevention and treatment non-profit, Childhelp USA
, one of the charities aided by the Charity Awards Dinner. (www.childhelp.org
Three-time Academy Award nominee, Diane Ladd is a winner of over 23 international awards, including the British Academy Award (BAFTA), the Spirit Award, and a Golden Globe. She is also a three-time Emmy nominee and was awarded the Susan B. Anthony ‘Failure is Impossible’ Award. One of the most versatile entertainers, Diane Ladd’s singing voice ranges from a lyric coloratura to “a belting chest voice,” and she is a chameleon-like comedienne and actress. She starred as the brash “Belle” in the television series of Alice. She appeared as Anthony Hopkin’s charming geriatric love interest in The World’s Fastest Indian. Some of her other films include Christmas Vacation, Primary Colors, 28 Days, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, A Kiss Before Dying, Father Hood, and Chinatown. Diane and her daughter, Laura Dern, made show business history in Rambling Rose as the first mother and daughter ever to be nominated for the Oscar and Golden Globe for the same motion picture in the same year. Diane Ladd also serves as an advisor for The National Foundation of Alternative Medicine, along with Dr. Deepak Chopra and Dr. Dean Ornish.
Rich Little is the premier impressionist of all time, earning him the nickname, “The Man of a Thousand Voices.” Appearing on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, Rich Little would regularly crack up Carson with his perfect mannerisms. He starred in a number of television variety series and specials. He now lives in Las Vegas, where he often performs. He has been active in several charities, including the Juvenile Diabetes Fund and the Children’s Miracle Network. He has been named to Miami Children’s Hospital International Pediatrics Hall of Fame and has been honored by the naming of the Rich Little Special Care Nursery at Ottawa (Canada) Civic Hospital.
Baseball legend Willie Mays brought his quick smile to the Charity Awards Dinner and lit up the room. Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979, the first year of his eligibility, Willie played center field primarily for the New York/San Francisco Giants and, later in his career, for the New York Mets. With his heavy bat and quick glove, he was selected as an All Star twenty-one times and played in twenty-four All Star Games. Many consider him the greatest all-around player ever.
Actress Donna Mills starred with Clint Eastwood in the intense thriller, Play Misty for Me. She is best known for her role as the scheming home-wrecker, Abby, in the long-running television drama Knot’s Landing. She came to the Charity Awards Dinner, and was perfectly gracious, not scheming, at all.
Infielder Paul Molitor played 21 seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers, the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Minnesota Twins. Starting out as a shortstop, he was moved to second base, and then to third base. During the latter part of his career, Molitor played primarily as a designated hitter. He was a seven time All-Star selection and a World Series champion in 1993. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2004, the first year of his eligibility.
Quarterback Joe Montana came to the Charity Awards Dinner with his fiancée, Jennifer Wallace, whom he married the following year. Noted for his ability to stay cool under pressure, Joe played for the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs, and was an 8-time Pro Bowl winner, a 7-time All Pro winner, a 4-time Super Bowl champion, a 3-time Super Bowl MVP and a 2-time AP NFL MVP, and has been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“Stan The Man” Musial played outfield and first base for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1941 to 1963, and remains a St. Louis hero to this day. A 3-time World Series champion, his brilliant consistency got him selected as an All Star twenty-four times (tying with Hank Aaron), a National League MVP three times, and elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969.. Always a soft-spoken gentleman, he was never once ejected in his 3,026 major league games.
Ken Norton is a former world champion heavyweight boxer. He is one of the few ever to beat Muhammad Ali, breaking his jaw and earning Norton the nickname, “Jaw Breaker” Norton. In his career, he won 42 of his 50 fights, 33 of them by knockouts. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1992, and into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1989. (His son, Ken Norton, Jr., played football for the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys; each time he scored a touchdown, he would strike a boxing stance in the end zone in honor of his father.)
Debra Paget is an actress who blazed onto the big screen in Cecil B. DeMille’s epic, The Ten Commandments. She also starred with James Stewart in Broken Arrow, and with Elvis Presley in his first starring movie, Love Me Tender. Now retired, she also hosted her own Christian television show, An Interlude with Debra Paget.
Martin Poll began his film career by co-producing 11 feature films and producing 39 half-hour episodes of the classic Flash Gordon television series in Germany and France. In the United States, Poll acquired and reopened the historic Biograph Studio in New York, renaming it Gold Medal Studios. At Gold Medal, he presided over such productions as Elia Kazan’s A Face in the Crowd, Paddy Chayefsky’s The Middle of the Night, Butterfield 8, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Laurence Harvey, and The Fugitive Kind, starring Marlon Brando, Anna Magnani and Joanne Woodward. In 1968, he produced The Lion In Winter, starring Katharine Hepburn and Peter O’Toole, which received nine Academy Award nominations and won three.
Tommy Roe is a popular rock and roll performer with a series of hit records in the 1960’s, including “Sheila” and “Sweet Pea.” He was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1986. Tommy came to the 2001 Charity Awards Dinner and kindly sang the national anthem, a capella-a challenge for any musician.
Known to all as Captain Kirk in the famed series Star Trek
, William Shatner has also won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his role as the goofy, endearing, hilarious Denny Crane in the hit series, Boston Legal
. He also starred in T.J. Hooker, as well as portraying the military prosecuting attorney in the classic movie, Andersonville
. He is also a musician, best-selling author, producer and director. Our favorite role, however, was when he enthusiastically volunteered as auctioneer for the Charity Awards Dinner celebrity auction, instantly making it a hit. In memoriam to his late wife, Shatner maintains the Nerine Shatner Friendly House
, a residential rehabilitation house for women who are recovering from alcohol and substance abuse. (www.williamshatner.com
Connie Smith is a country and gospel singer/songwriter who had her greatest successes in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Her #1 hit, “Once A Day,” stayed at the top of the Billboard Country Chart, the longest of any female country artist to date, and made her an overnight sensation. She became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1965, and was in high demand for tours and concert appearances. She is married to country star, Marty Stuart, and they often perform and write songs together.
Tom Sneva is a former Indy Car driver who was named to the prestigious Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2005. He is best remembered for winning the 1983 Indianapolis 500. Nicknamed “The Gas Man,” Sneva’s unique abilities to get the most out of his car led to his winning two consecutive USAC National Championships for Indycars in 1977 and 1978. He had many famous racing crashes, the most astonishing in 1975 when he flipped up into the catch fence and tore his car in half. Sneva walked away with only minor burns. He would crash seven times in 18 years of the Indy.
Actress and singer, Connie Stevens starred in Hawaiian Eye, a role that made her famous. After appearing several times on the hit, 77 Sunset Strip, she recorded the show’s famous “Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb” with star Edward Byrnes, a song that reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. She also had hit singles as a solo artist with “Sixteen Reasons” and “Too Young to Go Steady.” In 1997, Stevens wrote, directed, and edited a documentary entitled A Healing, about Red Cross nurses who served during the Vietnam War. The following year it won Best Film at the Santa Clarita International Film Festival. Among her charitable works, she founded the Windfeather Project to award scholarships to Native Americans. In 1991, Stevens received the Lady of Humanities Award from Shriners Hospital and the Humanitarian of the Year Award by the Sons of Italy in Washington, D.C. She is currently directing her first feature-length film, Saving Grace.
Cicely Tyson is an Emmy Award-winning and Academy Award nominated actress. A successful stage actress, she has also acted in a myriad of movies. She is best loved for her riveting performance in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, transforming her fashion model beauty into a wizened, 110-year-old black woman who was born into slavery in the 1850s and lived to become a part of the civil rights movement in the 1960’s. She was married to jazz great, Miles Davis.
Actor Larry Wilcox is best known for his role as Officer Jon Baker in CHiPs, the television show about California Highway Patrol motorcycle officers. An accomplished motorcycle rider, horseman, race car driver, and jet skier, Wilcox did many of his own stunts on the show. Later, he produced the acclaimed television series, The Ray Bradbury Theatre. Today, he continues to run Wilcox Productions, and is also president and chief executive officer of UC Hub Group, Inc., a software company specializing in digital communities.
Andy Williams will forever be remembered for his hit, “Moon River,” but his accomplishments are so much more than that. He has recorded 18 Gold and three Platinum certified albums. He has performed with the biggest names in pop music, and President Ronald Reagan once declared William’s voice to be “a national treasure.” At one point, he had earned more gold albums than any solo performer except Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis, and Elvis Presley. His television series, The Andy Williams Show, spotlighted the young Osmond Brothers, and earned Williams three Emmy Awards. In 1991, Andy Williams built his own theatre, the Moon River Theatre, in the country music town of Branson, Missouri, where he remains the town’s favorite star.
Billy Dee Williams
Billy Dee Williams is best known as Lando Calrissian in the Star Wars favorites, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. He has also portrayed a sexy screen lover in the Billy Holiday biopic, Lady Sings the Blues and in Mahogany, both with Diana Ross. One of his most notable roles was as the district attorney in the 1989 version of Batman. Mr. Williams is also a fine painter whose works hang in the Smithsonian, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Schomburg Museum.
American actress and singer, Pia Zadora is best known for her starring role in Butterfly. It was a film that critics blasted, but which also earned her a Golden Globe Award as New Star of the Year. Later, she reinvented herself as a singer of popular standards and released several successful albums.
Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.
American actor, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., starred with James Garner in Maverick, but left to play the lead in his own hit series, 77 Sunset Strip. Later, he starred in the television show, The F.B.I., and guest starred in many other shows, including his daughter Stephanie Zimbalist’s
We gratefully remember the stars who have supported the Charity Awards Dinners, and who have passed on before us.
Eddie Albert was an actor, humanitarian, activist and World War II veteran (he earned the Bronze Star for rescuing several hundred wounded Marines while under heavy enemy machine-gun fire.) His acting career spanned nearly seven decades, and he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Roman Holiday and again for The Heartbreak Kid. He also starred in the favorite television show, Green Acres, with Eva Gabor, and in the 1970’s crime drama, Switch. An outspoken environmental and humanitarian activist, Albert helped to launch the first Earth Day in 1970. He was also a special consultant at the World Hunger Conference in Rome in 1974 and a director to the U.S. Commission on Refugees.
Steve Allen was the first host of The Tonight Show, where he was instrumental in innovating the concept of the television talk show. He hosted numerous game and variety shows, including I’ve Got a Secret and The Steve Allen Show, and was a regular panel member on CBS’ What’s My Line? A world class comedian, he penned more than 50 books and was a prolific composer, writing over 10,000 songs. He has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He made his last appearance on the 40th anniversary broadcast of The Tonight Show, when Jay Leno knelt down and kissed his ring.
Johnny Cash was “The Man in Black,” an iconic musician loved for his rumbling, deep bass-baritone voice. He sold over 90 million albums in his nearly 50 year career, becoming the Country Music Hall of Fame’s youngest living inductee at age 48. He wrote over 1,000 songs and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Johnny Cash #31 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
June Carter Cash
Born into the famous musical Carter Family, June Carter Cash was a singer, songwriter, actress, comedienne and author-and the beloved wife of Johnny Cash. June performed with “Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters,” and also had a solo career. She began performing with Johnny Cash, and they were married in 1968. They won two Grammy Awards, once for “Jackson,” and once for “If I Were A Carpenter.” June’s album, Press On, won a Grammy in 1999, and Wildwood Flower, released posthumously in 2003, won two additional Grammys. She ranked #31 in CMT’s 40 Greatest Woman in Country Music. June Carter Cash was a long-time supporter of SOS Children’s Villages; in 1974, the Cashes donated money to help build a village in Barrett Town, Jamaica.
Each Christmas season, when the beloved 1954 movie, White Christmas, is aired, Rosemary Clooney comes alive again. Paired with Bing Crosby, her rich, warm voice evokes the magic of the season. Rosemary Clooney was a talented jazz and popular singer for over fifty years, and released albums when most other singers of her generation had stopped recording. In 1994, she guest starred with her nephew, George Clooney, in the television drama, ER, and was nominated for an Emmy.
James Coburn was a favorite film and television actor, with a 45-year career. He appeared in almost 70 films and made over 100 appearances on television. He won an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance in Affliction in 1997. Often an action and Western hero or bad man, he starred in Our Man Flint, The Magnificent Seven, and The Great Escape.
In 1984, Mr. Davis was slated to perform in Atlantic City, but came to the East Coast early in order to lend his prestigious presence to the Charity Awards Dinner. Widely considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, Miles Davis was at the forefront of nearly every major development in jazz from World War II to the 1990’s. As a trumpeter, he had a rich, full tone and loved playing in the low register that would take the listener’s breath away. He was also a bandleader and composer, and has been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the St. Louis Walk of Fame, Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame, and Down Beat’s Jazz Hall of Fame.
Sammy Davis, Jr.
Sammy Davis, Jr., will long be remembered for his dancing. But he was also an award-winning singer, comedian, impressionist, and an Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actor. As a member of the 1960’s Rat Pack, he was a close friend of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford. He headlined in Las Vegas, although in his early career, due to the color barrier, he could not reside in the hotels where he was performing. He found that, “My talent was the weapon, the power, the way for me to fight. It was the one way I might hope to affect a man’s thinking.”
Hungarian-born actress Eva Gabor was best loved for her role as Lisa Douglas, wife of Eddie Albert’s character, on Green Acres. Eva and her two sisters, Zsa Zsa and Magda, were famous as the Gabor sisters, each with a string of husbands. Eva had five.
Starting his career as a big band singer, Merv Griffin was a television host and media mogul who hosted his own talk show, The Merv Griffin Show, and who created the highly successful game shows, Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. Profits from his various games shows made him one of the wealthiest entertainers on the planet.
June Haver was a great screen beauty who also had been a big band singer. In 1944, she starred in Where Do We Go From Here? with Hollywood great, Fred MacMurray. Later, at a particularly low point in her life, she nearly gave her career up to enter a convent. At about that time, she re-connected with MacMurray and they eventually married, and remained together for the rest of their lives. When June and Fred came to the Charity Awards Dinner, she took the initiative to have all the celebrities sign a tablecloth, which was then auctioned for charity.
Iconic actor Charlton Heston was best known for his heroic roles in such films as El Cid, Planet of the Apes, The Agony and the Ecstasy, Khartoum, and The Ten Commandments. He was cast as Moses in The Ten Commandments because director Cecil B. DeMille thought he bore an uncanny resemblance to Michelangelo’s statue of Moses. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor in Ben Hur. After Ben Hur and The Ten Commandments, Heston was identified with Biblical epics more than any other actor. In the 1950’s and 1960’s he was one of a handful of Hollywood actors to speak openly against racism and was an active supporter of the Civil Rights Movement. He later became spokesman for the NRA and conservative politics. He served as president of the Screen Actors Guild.
Everyone’s most beloved comedian, Bob Hope, headlined the 1984 Charity Awards Dinner. Throughout his life, he was consistently honored for his humanitarian work, most notably with American G.I’s from World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War. Bob Hope appeared in vaudeville, on Broadway, radio, television and in the movies. (His long time comedy writer, Ward Grant, also served the Charity Awards Dinners, writing scripts for the celebrities.)
Fred MacMurray acted in over 100 movies and was well known as the “nice guy.” However, he preferred portraying the bad guy in the 1944 film, Double Indemnity, in which he starred with Barbara Stanwyck. He was much loved for starring in the television hit, My Three Sons, and the Disney film, The Shaggy Dog.
Henry Mancini was an Academy Award-winning composer, conductor and arranger. He is remembered particularly for his film and television scores, one of which was the favorite “The Pink Panther Theme.” He won a record number of Grammy awards, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995. He was nominated for 72 Grammys, winning 20. He was nominated for 18 Oscars, winning four.
As outfielder and first baseman, Mickey Mantle played his entire 18- year professional baseball career for the New York Yankees. He won the American League MVP three times, and played for 16 All-Star teams. He played on 12 pennant winning teams, and for 7 World Championship clubs. He still holds the record for most World Series home runs, RBI’s, runs, walks, extra-base hits, and total bases. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974, as soon as he was eligible. In 1956, singer Teresa Brewer recorded a song extolling Mickey’s power hitting, called “I Love Mickey.”
Sanford Meisner was an actor and an acting coach who developed an acting methodology, now known as the Meisner Technique. He studied piano at what is now Julliard, but had to quit during the Depression to help in the family’s garment business. He would later say that the only way he could endure the work was to replay, over and over in his mind, all the classical music had had studied. He claimed this helped him develop an acute sense of sound. Later, as an acting coach, he would utilize this ability to listen closely to his students, eyes closed, head in hands, to pinpoint the true and false moments in their acting. His acting technique has been described as getting actors to “live truthfully under imaginary circumstances.”
George Peppard is best known for his television roles as Banacek, and as the leader of The A-Team, but his acting talent was more evident in Home From The Hill, as Robert Mitchum’s illegitimate son, and as Audrey Hepburn’s love interest in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. He also starred in blockbusters such as The Blue Max, How the West Was Won, The Carpetbaggers and The Victors.
Tony Randall will always be remembered as the quintessential fussbudget, Felix Unger, in The Odd Couple. He also starred as nearly all of the leading characters in the 1964 cult classic film, 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, which required him to provide different voices and portray a variety of characters. He played in successful romantic comedies with Doris Day and Rock Hudson. He loved appearing on The Tonight Show, and at the time of his death had appeared 105 times, more often than any other celebrity. He was nominated for five Golden Globe awards and two Emmys, earning one for The Odd Couple. In 1993, he received The Hundred Year Association of New York’s Gold Medal Award “in recognition of outstanding contributions to the City of New York.”
Robert Stack was an Emmy Award-winning and Academy Award-nominated stage and movie actor. He was best known for his film acting, as well as his role as federal agent Eliot Ness in the television series, The Untouchables, and as host of Unsolved Mysteries. Known for his serious demeanor, he made fun of his own persona in comedies such as 1941, Airplane!, Caddyshack II, and BASEketball.
Johnny Unitas, called “The Golden Arm,” was a professional football player primarily with the Baltimore Colts. He was a record-setting quarterback and was the National Football League’s most valuable player in 1959, 1964, and 1967. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.