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UNICEF History

Selected historical celebrities

During the early years of UNICEF’s existence, talented individuals were inspired to volunteer their time and their mobilizing power to help the cause of improving children's survival and well-being worldwide. Possibly the best known of these early advocates was Danny Kaye, a famous US actor and comedian.

Danny Kaye’s recruitment was the result of a chance encounter with then Executive Director Maurice Pate aboard a flight from London to New York. The plane caught fire over the Atlantic Ocean, and as it made its way back to Ireland for repairs, Maurice Pate spoke to Danny about UNICEF and its work. Danny without hesitation volunteered to work for UNICEF then and there, and became UNICEF’s first “Ambassador-at-Large”, spreading the message about the situation of children, their needs and the opportunity to help, around the world. He subsequently made a 20-minute documentary film, “Assignment Children”, that was seen by more than 100 million people, making UNICEF a household name worldwide.

Many others have followed in Danny Kaye's footsteps over the years, and continue to do so, becoming Goodwill Ambassadors for UNICEF. Below are link to profiles of the first few to have done so.



Danny Kaye

Danny Kaye: UNICEF biography

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn: UNICEF biography


'Rights of the Child' First Day Cover drawn and signed by Audrey Hepburn


Audrey Hepburn's historical statements, messages and media coverage for UNICEF (25 items)

Sir Peter Ustinov

Sir Peter Ustinov: UNICEF biography



Current UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors

Find out more about celebrities currently volunteering their time and support as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors.

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