28 March 2014

Charity in Hollywood

The Community Chest was America's most important fund-raising organisation during the 1930s/40s. Collected funds were distributed to various causes, including movie relief organisations that offered assistance to those in need within the film industry. On 2 April 1940, a Special Committee for the Community Chest in Los Angeles (with members such as Frank Capra, Gary Cooper, Norma Shearer and Carole Lombard) wrote a solicitation letter to MGM's vice-president Eddie Mannix, asking for his help in supporting the Community Chest. Judging by the letter, apparently there had been some issues regarding the Community Chest, but the Committee nevertheless believed that the Chest was "the best means with which to handle the serious problems of those in need". In the following letter the Committee is asking Mannix for his much-needed support:


Source: bonhams/ image reproduced with permission

Transcript:

April 2, 1940

Dear Edward J. Mannix,

Those of us whose names appear in printed form here met the other night to discuss confidentially and fearlessly our relationship to the Community Chest and the problems, doubts and responsibilities arising out of the matter from an industry standpoint. Some of us came to oppose, to fight. During a four hour meeting, with no outside influence present, we learned for the first time Community Chest facts which converted us as one to the cause of this organized charitable distributing agency that makes possible 88 seperate charities within our community.

We learned that 94 cents out of every dollar goes into the hands of the needy; that only 6 cents out of each dollar is required for administrative expenses.

We learned we may designate, in giving our contribution to the Community Chest, the charity or charities of the 88 to which we wish our money to go, in full or in part.

We learned this community of which we are a part, is in need of our help and the Chest IS the best means with which to handle the serious problems of those in need.

We learned that an educational program is needed in behalf of the Community Chest so everyone else knows, as we know now, that the Chest truly deserves our support.

We want you to be with us, help us.

It is imperative for some of us to give a little more to make up our $200,000 shortage for the Community Chest.

If there are any questions you would like to ask, won't you please call anyone of us?

Sincerely,

signed by Joel McCrea, William A. Wellman, Ronald Colman, Carole Lombard, Frank Capra, Gary Cooper, Norma Shearer
Top row (from left to right): Eddie Mannix, Frank Capra, and William A. Wellman. Middle row: Charles BoyerRonald Colman and Gary Cooper. Bottom row: Carole Lombard, Norma Shearer and Joel McCrea.

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