Hedy Lamarr Saved Radio Show That Found Homes for Orphans

Movie poster for the 1944 film Nobody's Children, based on the radio show of the same name
Movie poster for Nobody's Children (1944)

I can tell you now the poignant story of how a complete half hour radio program was kept on the air for 13 weeks through one rather famous listener's impulsive and sentimental gesture.

The story begins on a Sunday in July a year and a half ago, with the first broadcast over the Mutual network of a half hour program called Nobody's Children. Its studio setting was unique, for it broadcast from the reception room of the Children's Home Society of California, dramatizing the stories of the orphans at the Society. Movie guest stars interested in the program appeared without payment, making brief talks.

The program ran over a year, always with the hope that a sponsor would take the broadcasts. None did and so, on a Sunday this past fall, Walter White Jr., who conceived the program and directed all its broadcasts, announced to listeners that the program would have to end. It could not afford to be continued, he explained, without sponsorship to absorb the costs of broadcasting the program.

A few days later, White had a check for $1,800 -- enough to keep the program on the air several more weeks without sponsorship. The check was from Hedy Lamarr.

Grateful, he respected a request that the gift remain anonymous, but news of it reached Louella Parsons and was published in her column.

That is why I am able to write this story at all. I don't know whether the program will continue longer on the air, now that the additional weeks have passed. I hope it will, because as White wrote me, "The purpose of our program is to acquaint listeners with the problems of the homeless and underprivileged child, also to stimulate interest in the older children, to the end that they will be given such essentials as a home, foster parents, and affection, understanding and opportunity."

He also wrote, "Miss Lamarr gave in the spirit that most gifts from the heart are made, in all sincerity, and even dated the check she sent me with her little adopted boy's own adoption date."

Fred R. Sammis in Radio and Television Monitor, March 1941

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