Throughout the 1920s, a series of coin boxes began appearing outside of film studios where movie workers could deposit their spare change. Cameramen, set builders, and even movie stars—including the legendary Charlie Chaplin—would drop in whatever they could to help their colleagues and friends within the film industry who had fallen on hard times. Today, that spirit of generosity lives on in the Motion Picture & Television Fund (MPTF) and its efforts to support the members of the film and entertainment community.
Founded in 1921 as the Motion Picture Relief Fund, the organization enjoyed support from stars like Chaplin, Will Rogers, Douglas Fairbanks Sr., and many others; acclaimed director Cecil B. DeMille served on its original Board of Trustees. It quickly rose to the challenge of caring for the countless actors, writers, and directors who had been displaced from the film industry following the rise of the “talkies”—sound films—and began partnering with other groups, like the nascent Screen Actors Guild.
The MPTF celebrated its 95th anniversary last year, and it remains as committed as ever to the film industry “taking care of our own.” In fact, the organization’s headquarters—the Wasserman Campus in Southern California—is a fully-functional retirement community designed for former film industry employees and their spouses. MPTF offers a wide range of other services beyond housing, including child care, counseling, direct financial assistance, and much more.
While a coin box may have been enough of a fundraising strategy to in the 1920s, today, the MPTF hosts a number of charity events to raise money for its programs. One of the most popular is the Night Before the Oscars: In 2017, this evening of entertainment hosted by stars like Steven Spielberg, George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, and more raised more than $5 million to support the MPTF’s efforts.
Another of the MPTF’s major events is the Heartbeat of Hollywood Golf Classic. For the past 38 years, this tournament—and, for the past 17 years, the accompanying Heartbeat of Hollywood Lite mini golf event—regularly raises about $500,000 that goes toward the Wasserman Campus and support of former industry members. As a member of the Golf Committee for the past eight years, I’m honored to do my part to make this event possible and keep the MPTF’s doors wide open to any veteran of the film industry who needs assistance, just like it has for the past 95 years.