GLAA mourns early contributor Paul Newman
From: Rick Rosendall
Sent: Saturday, September 27, 2008 8:49 PM
To: GLAA Members
Subject: Newman and Woodward and the birth of GLAA
As we join other Americans in mourning the death of actor and philanthropist Paul Newman, many of you may not know the role that he and his wife, Joanne Woodward, played in the birth of GLAA thirty-seven years ago.
On March 23, 1971, Frank Kameny made history as a candidate in the District of Columbia’s first election for Delegate to Congress. While he lost to Rev. Walter Fauntroy, his numbers were impressive enough to put the gay community on the political map in Washington as an influential voting bloc. The day before the election, Kameny for Congress received a check for $500 from Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.
Kameny and his campaign manager, Paul Kuntzler, were naturally thrilled. Unfortunately, they received the money too late to spend it on the campaign, so it was used afterward to send the leading organizers to New York City to meet with members of that city's Gay Activists Alliance. That led to the founding of a Washington group by the same name, on April 20, 1971. (We were renamed the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance in 1986 when Lorri Jean agreed to serve as president on condition that the name be amended.)
When Kuntzler told me in 2005 about Newman’s and Woodward’s contribution, he admitted with chagrin that a thank-you letter had never been sent. So I wrote an extremely belated note, which I sent via Newman’s manager, thanking the legendary Hollywood couple for the seed money that helped launch what remains the oldest continuously active GLBT rights organization in the country.
As it happens, Newman was born in 1925, the same year as Kameny. Also born that year was author and former screenwriter Gore Vidal, a longtime friend of Newman and Woodward. Woodward, who survives her husband, was born in 1930. Kameny is still very much with us, and still attends GLAA’s twice-monthly meetings.
Happily, the spirit of pro-gay Hollywood philanthropy was recently revived by actor Brad Pitt, who gave $100,000 to the fight against California’s anti-gay Proposition 8. Director Steven Spielberg soon followed with a gift of the same amount. We hope that more will follow. In the meantime, we celebrate the life of a film legend who, with his wife, was an early supporter of our cause.
Vice President for Political Affairs
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C.