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Tony Bennett, Ray Romano and Phil Donahue will headline the celebration as stars from the entertainment industry show their support for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s 50th anniversary with a benefit gala in Los Angeles on January 7, 2012. Tony Bennett, a personal friend of St. Jude founder—the late entertainer Danny Thomas—will perform for the star-studded crowd along with Ray Romano, a good friend of the Thomas family and an ardent supporter of St. Jude, to help commemorate what would have been Thomas’ 100th birthday. The 50th anniversary gala honors the commitment of St. Jude to saving the lives of children fighting cancer and other deadly diseases.
“My father always said there would be no St. Jude without Hollywood,” said Tony Thomas, son of Danny Thomas and one of the gala’s co-chairs. “He spent the 1950’s raising money for his dream, to build a hospital for research and care under one roof for children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. He reached out to his entertainment friends, who we now know as legends, to put on benefits around the country to raise money for a hospital yet to be built. Today, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital stands as a beacon of hope for families across America. My father would be so proud that Hollywood continues to support the hospital.”
To honor Thomas’ memory, the black tie audience will be entertained by the incomparable Tony Bennett as he performs from his latest album. Ray Romano will perform a special birthday tribute. Phil Donahue, husband of Danny’s daughter, actress Marlo Thomas, will emcee the gala with members of the Thomas family on site. The gala will also feature a presentation from the United States Postal Service. Marlo Thomas, Tony Thomas, Terre Thomas and Robert Ellis serve as co-chairs of the event.
"Danny Thomas was an exceptionally generous man and I loved having had the opportunity to know him,” said Tony Bennett. “He passed along his giving spirit to his family and I know he would be so proud that his mission to help children through St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has continued on so successfully. I am thrilled to be part of the 50th Anniversary to celebrate this wonderful organization and honor Danny."
Celebrities confirmed to join the celebration include Jason Bateman, Julie Bowen, Diahann Carroll, Marcia Cross, Hilary and Haylie Duff, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Daisy Fuentes, Lance Gross, Jon Hamm, Harry Hamlin, Jared Harris, Mila Kunis, Maggie Lord, Elisabeth Moss, Elise Neal , Marisol Nichols, Jaime Pressly, Raven-Symoné, Lisa Rinna, Amanda Seyfried, William Shatner, Cybill Shepherd, John Slattery, Alison Sweeney, Amber Valletta , Patrick Warburton, and heroic pilot Captain Chesley Sullenberger and astronaut Buzz Aldrin. The 50th anniversary celebration will be held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 7, 2012.
“As we embark on the year-long celebration of the opening of St. Jude 50 years ago, it is only fitting that we pay tribute at this special event to Danny Thomas, our founder and our most passionate champion,” said Rick Shadyac Jr., CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising organization of St. Jude. “If Danny were still with us today, I know he would be touched by the army of supporters who have embraced St. Jude and joined the fight against childhood cancer and other deadly diseases.”
St. Jude visionary and founder, entertainer Danny Thomas, opened St. Jude in 1962 with a mission to save the lives of children everywhere, because he wanted to create a hopeful place that was accepting of all children whether or not the family could afford treatment. Today, St. Jude is the only children’s hospital where a child is never turned away if a family can’t pay and no family pays St. Jude for anything. For 50 years, St. Jude has made great discoveries in how to treat deadly childhood diseases like cancer, saving the lives of kids across America. Research at St. Jude has changed how the world treats leukemia, brain tumors, and sickle cell, pushing survival rates for childhood cancers from less than 20 percent in 1962 to almost 80 percent today.