DENNIS WEAVER - TYPED LETTER SIGNED 01/22/1992 - HFSID 270473
A letter from the actor as President of LIFE (Love is Feeding Everyone), asking comedienne Phyllis Diller for her support to help feed the hungry
Typed letter signed: "Dennis" as President and Chairman of LIFE (Love Is Feeding Everyone), 2 pages, 8½x11, separate sheets. Los Angeles, California, 1992 January 22. On LIFE letterhead to comedienne and actress Phyllis Diller, Los Angeles, California. Begins: "Dear Phyllis". In full: "The Soviet Union is not the only thing that is crumbling these days. The federal government continues to slash funding for many social service programs and has increasingly shifted that responsibility to the private sector. The sour economic conditions that have plagued us for over a year has greatly eroded the ability of non-profits to take up the slack. In 1983, the 'new poor' was a phrase we heard a lot in the media. Whole families were sleeping in their cars and hunger became a real issue. That is when Valerie Harper and I, along with a number of community-minded business people, started L.I.F.E. (Love is Feeding Everyone). Huge amounts of good, nutritious food was being thrown away by the supermarkets because a viable plan had never been offered that would deliver this food to the needy in our community. We devised such a plan and began delivering food to the hungry that would otherwise be wasted. We also initiated community food drives to collect non-perishable food in order to offer those we served a balanced diet. At that time, however, hunger was 'the issue' and with broad community support we began to grow. In 1983 we served a little more than 400 people a week. Today we are helping to feed over 100,000 needy neighbors. But in the last year the support to alleviate hunger has weakened. Our income has not kept up with our expenses and, at the same time, the demand for our services has grown dramatically. It's been a very frustrating time. We have pared our overhead down to the bone, reduced staff, frozen salaries, consolidated our entire operation at one warehouse for greater efficiency, and still the donations have not covered expenses. It has been suggested that, perhaps, it is time we closed our doors. For me, that is simply not an option...not when the need is so great. I think of those who depend on our food each week and I wonder who would help the abandoned mothers and their children, the elderly, and the disabled who can no longer do for themselves? You and I understand that when someone suffers from hunger, we are not immune to their suffering. We share it either directly or indirectly for it creates other social problems, such as abused children, battered women, alocholism, drug abuse and crimes of all kinds. Bertrand Russel said, 'The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation.' In that statement is the deep understanding that we are in truth one, that we are all connected, and that we share each others pain and joy. As I child I lived through the Great Depression, and I understand the pain of hunger. What helped so many people then was cooperation - neighbor helping neighbor. If people hadn't had the attitude 'we're all in this together,' if they hadn't reached out to each other and helped one another, many wouldn't have made it. That same feeling is important today. Let those of us who are blessed with abundance offer a helping hand to those who are not so lucky. I have never made a direct appeal such as this to my friends and colleagues in our industry, for I personally know how many times you are asked to support worthy causes. And I wouldn't do it now if the need wasn't so urgent. There is no question that we have the resources and know-how to feed those who hunger in our city and with your help we will. Please give generously as you can. Your support is vital. Gratefully." In the year he wrote this letter, Weaver starred in the made-for-TV movie, Mastergate, and could be heard on the small screen as the voices of Dusty and Josh on the animated series, Captain Planet and the Planeteers (1990-1996), to which Diller also lent her vocal talents. After failing to make the US Olympic team in 1948, college track star DENNIS WEAVER (1924-2006), born William Dennis Weaver, discovered an interest and talent for acting. He found movie supporting roles, mostly in Westerns, until his breakthrough role as Emmy-winning Deputy Chester Goode in the TV Western Gunsmoke (1955-1964). The most successful of his subsequent TV series was McCloud (1970-1977), in which Weaver was cast as Sam McCloud, a Western lawman moved to New York City. His other series include Kentucky Jones (1964-1965), Gentle Ben (1967-1969) and Wildlife (since 2005). Weaver also had a recurring role as Buffalo Bill Cody on Lonesome Dove: The Series (1994) and has guest starred in a long list of TV shows, from Dragnet (1954) to Hollywood Squares. A memorable film role was in the early Steven Spielberg TV movie Duel (1971), and Weaver also appeared in several feature films. Comedienne PHYLLIS DILLER (1917-2012), known for her outrageous appearance, zany outfits, distinctive laugh and a stand-up act that featured frequent references to her fictional husband, "Fang", and zingers about her sex appeal and numerous plastic surgeries, got her big break in March 1955 (at age 37), when she debuted at San Francisco's Purple Onion club. A subsequent appearance on The Tonight Show hosted by Jack Paar launched her national career, which got a big boost after Bob Hope saw Diller in a Washington, D.C. club. A favorite of the comedian, Diller would appear in three of Hope's films and 23 of his TV specials. Diller, who recorded her first comedy record album in 1959, took her groundbreaking "funny hausfrau" act to nightclubs and television variety shows and specials and she also appeared on the big screen. Her feature film credits include Splendor in the Grass (1961), The Fat Spy (1966), Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number! (1966), The Sunshine Boys (1975) and The Silence of the Hams (1994), and she provided the voice of the Queen in A Bug's Life (1998). By 2000, the comedienne, who had trained as a concert pianist before her marriage (1939-1965) to Sherwood Anderson Diller, had appeared as a piano soloist with 100 symphony orchestras across the U.S. Despite retiring from nightclub/stage tours in May 2002 at the age of 84, Diller continued to make films (Motorcross Kids, 2004; Forget About It, 2005) and occasionally appear on TV programs, including two episodes of 7th Heaven (2002, 2003) and a guest shot on The Wayne Brady Show (2004). Lightly creased with folds, not at signature. Type light on second page (all legible). Stapled at upper left blank corners. Fine condition.
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