Samuel Goldwyn to be Honored by Grandsons at Entertainment Industry Foundation Gala
John and Tony will make a toast at Tuesday night's gala celebrating the organization: "Samuel and Frances were people who understood hardship, and at various points in their lives people helped them without whom they might not have survived," says producer John of his grandparents.
It was the early suffering he endured as a Polish immigrant that transformed Samuel Goldwyn into a pioneer of helping others. “Samuel and Frances were people who understood hardship, and at various points in their lives people helped them without whom they might not have survived,” says producer John Goldwyn of his grandparents. “So philanthropy was embedded in their worldview.”
And in John’s: He and brother Tony will be presenters at the March 20 gala celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Entertainment Industry Foundation — co-founded by Samuel Goldwyn with Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Gene Kelly, Joan Crawford and Cecil B. DeMille — and the more than $1 billion it has raised to support arts, education and health causes. “If he were alive, he’d be calling people around town and hustling them to do more because that is who he was,” says Tony. “But he would be thrilled with the way he still has a central presence in Hollywood and to know that things like the EIF are thriving.”
John recalls stories about his grandfather and his friends going to downtown Los Angeles during the depression and setting up a card table. A queue would then form of people who were facing some form of financial distress and then checks would be written by Goldwyn and others and then distributed to those in need.
It was during the war effort that the number of philanthropic campaigns by members of the entertainment industry proliferated. The efforts were well meaning but disparate, and every individual had their own pet cause. “Samuel Goldwyn had the idea in 1940 to pool all these charities together because he understood that collective impact was going to be much greater,” says John. “What is interesting is that that idea still prevails today.”
Asked which of their grandfather’s films exemplifies his social conscience, both John and Tony cite 1946’s The Best Years of Our Lives, the Oscar-winning drama about World War II vets facing difficulties as they re-enter civilian life. “It was the first movie ever to examine PTSD,” says John. “It had an outsized impact.”
The EIF gala will also honor Stand Up To Cancer CFA members Sherry Lansing, Katie Couric, Lisa Paulsen, Rusty Robertson, Sue Schwartz, Pamela Oas Williams, Ellen Ziffren, Kathleen Lobb and the organization's president Sung Poblete with the Samuel Goldwyn Legacy Award for their work with Stand Up to Cancer, a division of EIF, which has raised more than $480 million to fight the disease.
A version of this story appears in the March 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.