HOLLYWOOD, California — In an era of globalization and the Internet, many are aware of the ongoing fight against global poverty. As a result, it is easy to imagine it as a 21st-century fight. However, looking back, that is not the case. Celebrities have been using their money and influence to help people long before the internet. Here are 5 classic Hollywood stars who fought poverty at an international level.
Classic Hollywood Stars who Fought Poverty
- Grace Kelly – Also known as Princess Grace of Monaco, Grace Kelly is often referred to as one of the greatest classic Hollywood actresses. She retired from acting when she married Prince Rainier III in 1956. She became involved in philanthropic work as part of her duties as a princess. In 1963, Grace Kelly tackled children’s global issues by the founding of AMADE Mondiale or the World Association for Children’s Friends. Kelly started the initiative with the belief that all children, regardless of social and cultural background, can live safely and with their fundamental rights protected. The organization specifically tackles protecting children from violence and improving access to healthcare and education. Some programs of AMADE include Dignity for Women, the Energy of Hope, Capoeira for Peace and Unaccompanied Migrant Children (UMC). Her leadership with AMADE Mondiale makes Grace Kelly the first in this list of 5 classic Hollywood stars who fought poverty.
- Audrey Hepburn – EGOT winning actress and classic Hollywood star Audrey Hepburn became involved with UNICEF in 1954. She didn’t become an ambassador for UNICEF until 1988. As a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Audrey Hepburn traveled the world to help children in developing countries. She first visited children experiencing famine from drought in Ethiopia. In the same year, she went to Turkey, Venezuela and Ecuador. She also visited Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico and Sudan on behalf of UNICEF. Audrey Hepburn used her celebrity status and platform to promote UNICEF’s work through multiple interviews and testimonies before the U.S. Congress. She was involved with the World Summit for Children and launched UNICEF’S “State of the World’s Children” reports. Of all the classic Hollywood stars who fought poverty at an international level, Audrey Hepburn has been one of the most hardworking and dedicated.
- Mia Farrow – Another UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador is actress Mia Farrow. Mia Farrow’s career began a bit later than the other classic Hollywood stars who fought poverty, but her humanitarian efforts cannot be ignored. After taking a break from acting, she became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 2000. Her humanitarian efforts have been focused on helping children impacted by armed conflict. As an ambassador, she has traveled to Africa nearly 20 times to visit sick women and children affected by internal strife. In addition to visiting African countries, she has also visited Haiti, Lebanon and Israel in times of crisis. Outside of UNICEF, Mia Farrow has partnered with the International Rescue Committee, ENOUGH Project, and Fund4Darfur.
- Danny Kaye – Unlike the other classic Hollywood stars who fought poverty, Danny Kaye was a singer, dancer, pilot, orchestra conductor and comedian as well as an actor. He was a man of many talents, but one of the things he was most famous for was serving as UNICEF’s first-ever celebrity Goodwill Ambassador in 1954. Prior to this appointment, UNICEF was struggling to gain mainstream recognition, so he was asked if he could join the initiative to raise awareness. For 33 years, Danny Kaye used his talents and his celebrity status to help children in need around the world. With UNICEF, Danny Kaye traveled the world, participated in the Trick-or-Treat program and filmed a movie on UNICEF’s work in Asia titled “Assignment Children.” After his death in 1987, UNICEF created the Danny Kaye Humanitarian Award for his lifelong dedication to the organization.
- Elizabeth Taylor – Despite often being considered one of Hollywood’s biggest divas, Academy Award-winning actress Elizabeth Taylor is one of 5 classic Hollywood stars who fought poverty internationally. She used her celebrity status to not only raise awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS but to actively combat the disease as well. She visited countries in Southeast Asia to speak at benefits and help raise money for the cause. She had also spoken in front of the United Nations to urge them to do more to help populations suffering from HIV/AIDS. She founded the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF) in 1991. Through this foundation, she offered medicine and services to people around the world suffering from AIDS. Since 1991, ETAF had invested more than $17 million in 44 countries and sent direct aid to parts of Africa and India in the fight against AIDS.
The fight against global poverty did not begin with the invention of the Internet. These 5 classic Hollywood stars prove it. Each of these stars came from different backgrounds and helped the world’s poor in their own unique way. While most of them are now gone, their efforts will never be forgotten. All of them have set a precedent for today’s celebrities to follow in fighting the good fight.
– Emily Young