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UNICEF to celebrate 50 years of celebrity advocacy

Katie Couric, “ER,” Sir Peter Ustinov, Sir Roger Moore, Harry Belafonte, Vanessa Redgrave, Nana Mouskouri and George Harrison To Be Honored

LOS ANGELES,  21 November 2003 – Today, virtually every non-profit organization in the world enlists the support of well-known individuals to help advance its work – but in 1953 it was a different story.  That was the year that a chance encounter on an
airplane brought together the beloved entertainer Danny Kaye and the then-executive director of UNICEF, who together forged a new kind of partnership between celebrities and global causes. The following year, Danny Kaye became UNICEF’s first Goodwill Ambassador, and began 33 years of traveling the world to promote the needs and rights of children.

On 3 December, at the UNICEF Goodwill Gala, UNICEF will celebrate 50 years of celebrity advocacy and honor the esteemed individuals – stars from stage, screen, sport and music – who have followed in Mr. Kaye’s footsteps.  UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Whoopi Goldberg tol host the Gala and Halle Berry will serve as honorary event chair. 

The event marks a half-century since UNICEF became the first global organization to recognize and harness the power of celebrity to further worldwide issues and causes.

The gala, to be held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, will benefit the “Audrey Hepburn All Children in School Fund” to help UNICEF provide 120 million children in developing nations access to a quality basic education. 

“UNICEF’s Ambassadors and celebrity supporters are committed to improving the lives of children in the developing world by making the rest of us aware of the struggles they face each day,” said Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF.  “It’s this commitment that reflects their true star quality, not the glitter and glamour of being a star but the way they use their notoriety to help the world’s children.  Thanks to their involvement with UNICEF, we raise millions of dollars every year to ensure every child’s right to health, education, equality and protection.”

UNICEF will pay tribute to George Harrison, whose 1971 Concert for Bangladesh marked the first time musicians collaborated for a common humanitarian cause; and honor its leading Goodwill Ambassadors Sir Peter Ustinov, Sir Roger Moore, Harry Belafonte, Vanessa Redgrave and Nana Mouskouri, who have been stalwart champions for children for more than a decade each.

Katie Couric, who encouraged the millions of Today show viewers to Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF, will receive a special UNICEF award, as well as NBC’s “ER,” who have devoted entire storylines to humanizing distant and neglected populations, such as in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria and Croatia. 

The Danny Kaye Humanitarian Award
The Danny Kaye Humanitarian Award will be given to a public figure who, like Danny Kaye in his time, has been a pioneer for celebrity activism.  Katie Couric, co-anchor of NBC’s “Today,” has used her celebrity to inform and empower her audience.  By fusing her philanthropic, personal and professional interests, Katie Couric is being recognized for her transformative advocacy on behalf of children.

Humanitarianism through the Arts Award
Executive producer John Wells, along with select cast members, will accept a special award on behalf of the television series “ER” for its social responsibility in bringing awareness to humanitarian crises in such countries as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Croatia.  This attention from a major television show, rare by any measure, has undoubtedly helped to humanize distant struggles for millions of viewers around the world.  Jessica Lange, a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador who recently visited the Congo on behalf of the organization, will present this award.

The UNICEF Goodwill Laureate Award
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors Sir Peter Ustinov, Sir Roger Moore, Harry Belafonte, Vanessa Redgrave and Nana Mouskouri will be honored for their life-long dedication to improving the lives of children throughout the world.  These Ambassadors have traveled far from the comforts of their homes, using the power of their popularity to support UNICEF’s work to ensure child survival, expand immunization programs, enroll children in school, assist children affected by HIV/AIDS, and to fight for child rights.

A Tribute to George Harrison
A visionary humanitarian, George Harrison used his celebrity and his music to bring children’s needs to a global stage. His legendary Concert for Bangladesh, organized by Mr. Harrison and Ravi Shankar, marked the first time musicians collaborated for a common humanitarian cause.  The 1971 concert pioneered the all-star rock benefit concert model, which has since been widely emulated for various causes worldwide.  Ravi Shankar will attend and Billy Preston will perform a selection of Harrison’s songs.

The Corporate Responsibility Award
UNICEF will present Mattel with the Corporate Responsibility Award, which honors a company that has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to philanthropic activity benefiting children. 

About UNICEF
Founded in 1946, UNICEF helps save, protect and improve the lives of children in 158 countries through immunization, education, health care, nutrition, clean water and sanitation.  UNICEF is non-partisan and its cooperation is free of discrimination.  In everything it does, the most disadvantaged children and the countries in greatest need have priority.  For more information about UNICEF or to make a donation, please visit www.unicefusa.org or call 1-800-4UNICEF.

Goodwill Gala Tickets
Tickets and tables to the "UNICEF Goodwill Gala" are available beginning September 8th.  Prices, which also include sponsorship packages, range from $500 - $250,000.  Tickets may be purchased by contacting Levy, Pazanti & Associates at 310/201-5033.  “UNICEF Goodwill Gala” is scheduled to take place on December 3 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel at 6:30 p.m.

The evening is made possible in part by the generous contributions of sponsors, including Thailand Elite and The Herbalife Family Foundation. 

To date, confirmed attendees to the Goodwill Gala include: United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Mrs. Annan, UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy, Katie Couric, Harry Belafonte, Sir Roger Moore and Lady Moore, Vanessa Redgrave, Nana Mouskouri, Judy Collins, Shakira, Laurence Fishburne, Angélique Kidjo, Jessica Lange, Ricky Martin, Marcus Samuelsson, Téa Leoni, Alyssa Milano, Claudia Schiffer, Johann Olav Koss, Summer Sanders, George Weah, Billy Preston, Ravi Shankar and the family members of Danny Kaye, Audrey Hepburn and George Harrison.

To broadcasters:

Video b-roll featuring archival material of UNICEF's goodwill ambassadors in the field and carrying out their duties will be available for:   Audrey Hepburn, Danny Kaye, Sir Roger Moore, Harry Belafonte, Sir Peter Ustinov, Susan Sarandon, Youssou N'Dour, Vanessa Redgrave, Nana Mouskouri, Maxim Vegerov, Mia Farrow and Tetsuko Kuroyanagi.

Video b-roll of the event will also be available the evening of the event.

* * * *

For further information, please contact:

Kate  Donovan, UNICEF Media, New York:
212-326-7452  kdonovan@unicef.org

Marissa Buckanoff, US Fund for UNICEF, New York:
212-922- 2485 mbuckanoff@unicefusa.org


 

 

 

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