Media and being an entertainer has made many people rich, and we are used to seeing that wealth on display on the red carpet. However, what is often less well reported is the substantial contributions that stars and media tycoons make to charities and other good causes. Let's look at some of the industry's leading philanthropists, and how they are making a difference.
Let's start with Helen Gurley Brown, the long-time editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, and one of the people who most changed our attitudes to sex and the role of women in society.
Brown died in 2012, aged 90, and left her money to further the cause of what she believed in most – media and journalism. The Stanford University School of Engineering received $12 million to set up the David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation, and another $18 million went to Columbia University as the second partner in this institution.
We may know her for her many film roles, but Sandra Bullock has also put her money to good use. We all watched in disbelief when the tsunami hit Japan back in 2011, and wished we could do something to help. Sandra did – she made a donation of $1 million to the American Red Cross to help with relief efforts in Japan.
Actors are also well known for giving back to their own profession. For example, Denzel Washington recently made a gift of $2.25 million to Fordham University in New York. The University will use this money to endow a chair in theater studies, as well as to set up a scholarship fund for undergraduates who study theater at the university.
We may think about the National Enquirer as the tabloid we pick up on our way out of the supermarket, but the money it has generated for its founder, Generoso Pope, is also being put to good use. Pope's widow, Lois, heads up a number of charities, including The Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, which supports a wide range of education, humanitarian, cultural and medical causes around the world.
Oprah Winfrey has also been an active philanthropist over the last several years. For instance, she donated $1.4 million to the US Dream Academy, a national after school care and mentoring program, designed to help children who are at risk to achieve their dreams. She also made a $12 million donation in 2013 to the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Perhaps the biggest media philanthropist of all is Michael Bloomberg, founder of the Bloomberg financial media empire and mayor of New York. For example, he pledged $125 million to an international program designed to reduce deaths and injuries that result from car crashes in low to middle income countries. He also made a donation of $350 million in 2013 to Johns Hopkins University, where the money will be used to endow 50 professorships and provide financial support for undergraduate students. This is not the first time that Bloomberg has made a donation to the university – so far, he has given over $1 billion to Johns Hopkins.