LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles (The Foundation) today announced that the late philanthropist and well-known comedy writer Mickey Ross bequeathed more than $10 million to establish the Michael and Irene Ross Endowment Fund at The Foundation. Ross, who died in May 2009 at age 89, created the endowment in memory of his wife of many years, Irene, who passed away in 2000, and his parents. In addition to this $10 million-plus contribution, the endowment will continue to receive 50 percent of all residuals from Ross’s television shows.
The endowment will support Ross’s desire to provide the neediest Southern California residents with assistance in the basics of life: food, shelter, medical care and education.
“Mickey Ross was a kind and humble man with a very inquisitive mind,” said Marvin I. Schotland, president and CEO of The Foundation. “He had an abiding interest in helping people in need—regardless of their faith—and a deep affinity for the concept of Yiddishkeit (Jewish life) in the broadest sense. He became involved with The Foundation through our Family Foundation Center, which offers guidance in helping families and individuals develop their charitable goals and strategies.
“We are gratified to have known him and are honored that he had the confidence and trust in us to select The Foundation to administer this substantial endowment that will serve as a living legacy to Mickey and Irene Ross. Grants from his endowment will commence in 2011, and will continue to make annual distributions in perpetuity to causes that meet his criteria,” Schotland stated.
Ross was a comedy writer, story editor and executive producer for more than 80 episodes of the TV situation comedy “All in the Family.” His other credits, which he shared with writing partner Bernie West, included “The Martha Raye Show,” “Three’s Company” and “The Jeffersons.”
According to his business manager Mads Bjerre, Ross grew up in poverty and had vivid memories of the Great Depression. He was born Isadore Rovinsky in New York City in 1919 into a Yiddish-speaking household. About his interest in the study of Jewish culture, Ross told the Los Angeles Times, "I was born of immigrant parents. I loved their attitude, their ways, their morals. I don't want to see that lost."
A bomber pilot during World War II, Ross got his show business start in the 1950s directing shows at a resort in the Adirondacks, working with show business greats Don Adams, Carl Reiner and Sid Caesar. His career in television began during that decade when he worked as a stager and director for "The Garry Moore Show."
With all his success in the entertainment field, Ross was a modest man who kept a low profile and was not interested in accolades or publicity. Through the Family Foundation Center at the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, he became personally involved in SOVA, a program of Jewish Family Service that supplies groceries and supportive services to over 10,000 people of all ages, ethnicities and religions each month at its three Los Angeles area centers.
In addition to the Michael and Irene Ross Endowment at The Foundation, he established a Jewish Studies program at City College of New York and endowed an academic chair in Yiddish language and culture at UCLA. He also supported many animal-rights organizations including the World Wildlife Fund, the Humane Society and Last Chance for Animals.
About The Foundation
Established in 1954, the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles is the largest manager of charitable assets and the leader in planned giving solutions for Greater Los Angeles Jewish philanthropists. The Foundation currently manages assets of $706 million (as of Dec. 31, 2009) and ranks among the 12 largest Los Angeles foundations. In 2009, The Foundation and its more than 1,000 donors distributed $62 million in grants to hundreds of organizations with programs that span the range of philanthropic giving. For more information, visit www.jewishfoundationla.org.
NOTE TO EDITORS: Photos available upon request.