7 Huge Acts Of Generosity By Celebrities You'd Least Expect
Whenever you see a celebrity's name on a headline, there's always a 50 percent chance that it's there because they did something terrible. Like shoplifting, punching a paparazzi, or restricting the freedoms of marginalized groups via executive order. Admit it: We all suspect that our favorite star might have some dark secret that would make us throw out all our posters and burn all our VHS copies of What Women Want. Well, here are seven famous people who did try to hide something pretty big: how generous they were.
Of course, being celebrities, they couldn't just give people large amounts of money and leave it at that. No, they had to find amazingly contrived ways to do their charity work. Like ...
George Michael Donated Tons Of Money On The Condition That No One Give Him Credit
When a celebrity suddenly passes away, your social media feeds will fill up with people proclaiming their lifelong fandom and struggling to think of something nice to say about a person whose lasting contribution to the world was providing a voice for a cartoon show 30 years ago. However, when pop music icon George Michael passed away last December, no contrived sympathy was necessary, because it turned out he had a whole secret side-career as one of the most generous people ever.
Also, everyone likes Wham!. Come on. Stop lying to yourself.
Michael's most concentrated efforts were focused on the Childline charity, a counseling service that helps kids deal with all sorts of shitty life events like abuse, bullying, and mental illness. He even donated the royalties from his 1996 hit "Jesus To A Child" to the organization, which we guess was a better song choice than "I Want Your Sex." These frequent donations came with the condition that they keep his contributions anonymous. Though he could have also asked for them to be credited to Andrew Ridgeley, which is the same thing.
The Terrence Higgins Trust for HIV victims and Macmillan Cancer Support were also supported by Michael. He was also the greatest benefactor of Project Angel Food -- which delivers meals to people living with critical conditions -- freely offering them his time, his money, and his mustache.
The other volunteers were shocked to learn the true identity of their co-worker "Michael George."
And that's not counting all the miscellaneous acts of generosity he displayed toward completely random strangers, from barmaids to people he saw on TV. At this point, we're thinking that his anonymity was half humility, half self-preservation -- if the world had known how generous he was in addition to being George Michael, he would have fatally drowned in ass long ago.
Elvis Couldn't Stop Giving Random People Cadillacs
When you look at Elvis in his final years, it's immediately clear that his worst habits had taken a toll on him. His prescription drug problem, eating disorder, and sideburns had all gotten dangerously out of hand. However, there's one seldom-discussed dependency that Elvis suffered with almost as much intensity: His addiction to giving people scores and scores of Cadillacs. It all started when Elvis had his first modest hit in 1955, and immediately bought a Cadillac for his mother. Elvis' mother, by the way, couldn't drive.
"This is nice, son, but your father needs money for an operation and ..."
"Say no more. Here's another Cadillac."
In 1975, Elvis gave a Cadillac to one of his backup singers ... and that's when things started to get out of control. Soon after, his dentist received one. Then his jeweler, his hairstylist, and his valet (the latter presumably because Elvis didn't want him driving his Cadillac).
At one point that year, Presley had entered the showroom at Madison Cadillac in Memphis and just bought 13 Cadillacs to be dispensed among any combination of people who worked for him. During his time there, a black bank teller named Mennie Person was admiring his Cadillac limousine out front, so Elvis approached her and asked, "Like it? I'll buy you one." He had the salesman add it to the list, which brought the grand total of his day of car shopping to $140,000. Person casually mentioned her upcoming birthday in two days, so Elvis had one of his guys cut her a check. Presumably, it said, "To be spent exclusively on Cadillacs."
"Wow, it's like Christmas!"
"Christmas? Five Cadillacs for your kids."
In January of the next year, Elvis paid a visit to a Denver car lot and casually bought a few Cadillacs for three policemen, a doctor, and two more people. When a local news station briefly mentioned him on the air, Elvis immediately called anchor Don Kinney to offer him a Cadillac -- Kinney thought it was a joke and hung up, but Elvis refused to take no for an answer and kept calling over and over until the guy accepted the goddamn car. Elvis died a year later, and it's unclear how the Cadillac Motor Car Division has managed to stay afloat since.
Zach Galifianakis Befriends A Homeless Woman, Finds Her A Home, And Takes Her To Premieres
It's not that surprising that The Hangover star Zach Galifianakis would have an affinity for homeless people, since he has made a lucrative career out of looking homeless. Even then, the incredible extent to his generosity will kick your heart in the balls. Galifianakis met a 70-year-old woman named Elizabeth "Mimi" Haist in 1994, long before he adopted the filthy beard and extra pounds that made him an international superstar. She just happened to be volunteering at the laundromat in Santa Monica where he did his laundry, and the two became fast friends. She even taught him how to wash his clothes. However, Galifianakis stopped going to the laundromat after hitting it big in 2009, because when you're famous, no one cares how you smell.
Left: Mimi Haist. Right: Zach Galifianakis, sans the cloud of farts now constantly following him.
Two years later, Zach learned that Mimi had become homeless and had zero family around to help her. Instead of saying, "Huh, that's sad," and going back to snorting coke off of a prostitute's buttocks, Galifianakis took immediate action. He found her an apartment, covered her utilities and rent, and introduced her to Renee Zellweger, who helped her furnish the place and get her groceries. Most people would have stopped there, but Galifianakis kept going. He takes Mimi to lunch every couple of weeks, and even had her be his date to several of his movie premieres.
He then almost undid all that good by forcing her to sit through The Hangover Part III.
When he's not in town, he has a friend take her to film openings in his stead. Mimi gushes over "the excitement of it all," and even gets to attend those infamous Hollywood after-parties. Who knows, perhaps Zach isn't the only one in this friendship who knows what it's like to wake up next to Bradley Cooper with no memory of the previous evening.
To everyone's surprise, she already knew Mike Tyson.
The Simpsons' Sam Simon And The Price Is Right's Bob Barker Spent A Fortune Messing With Illegal Fishing Vessels
By most accounts, The Simpsons co-creator Sam Simon was kind of a jerk. Matt Groening called him "unpleasant and mentally unbalanced," while George Carlin described him as "an unhappy person who treated other people poorly." He did not play well with other comedy geniuses, apparently. However, Simon was undeniably a generous dickhead, helping countless people through his personal foundation and eventually giving away his $100 million fortune to charity after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. His greatest achievement, though, combined his two loves: making the world a better place ... and fucking with people.
And badass ships. So three loves.
Not content to limit his helpfulness to the confines of land, Simon also extended his efforts to the water. He donated an undisclosed chunk of money to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, whose goal is to put a stop to fish-fuckery all over the globe. The organization deals with everything from the fishing of endangered species to saving dolphins, and Simon's donations earned him his very own ship in the armada. The imaginatively named MY Sam Simon was also involved in the 2015-16 "Operation Icefish" campaign that pretty much rid the Antarctic Ocean of illegal poaching and fishing operations in just under 15 months. The MY Sam Simon can be seen catching a few of the shithead poaching vessels in action here:
Meanwhile, the MY Bob Barker -- named after and donated by the long-microphoned, dog-genital-obsessed game show host -- did quite a bit of damage of its own. One particular action of badassery saw the Bob Barker cockblocking whaling ships from being refueled by giant tankers in the middle of the ocean, even as it got rammed and attacked with flash grenades.
Like the real Barker, that boat was clearly trained by Chuck Norris.
The Barker also had a hand in "Operation: Albacore," which for the first time in history had eyes around the waters of the country of Gabon and assisted the government there with illegal tuna poachers. We assume there was a giant decal of a heavily muscled Barker neutering a dog with his fists on the side of the ship at all times during the operation.
Ben Affleck Became Best Buds With A Disabled Kid, Funded Research On His Condition
In 1998, 10-year-old Joe Kindregan traveled to Washington, D.C. to watch the shooting of the Sandra Bullock/Ben Affleck romantic comedy Forces Of Nature for reasons that only he can explain. The wheelchair-bound child actually got to meet Affleck, and the pair maintained a pretty close relationship even after the "film" wrapped. How close? Well, we all have good friends, but how many of them would spend a small fortune trying to cure a disease you have?
"Just to be clear, I'd never do this for Matt Damon."
Kindregan suffered from the degenerative disease ataxia-telangiectasia, a disease Affleck has quietly been trying to eradicate for over a decade by throwing piles of money at researchers. He also testified with Joe before a congressional subcommittee in regards to stem cell research that could potentially help with these kinds of diseases. However, perhaps the biggest impact Affleck has had in Joe's life is the time he made a speech at his high school commencement ceremony in 2007, in front of girls just the right age to still have a crush on the guy from Pearl Harbor.
"I don't understand, Mr. Affleck. I should take these girls to the back of a Volkswagen?"
During the speech, Affleck spoke of their friendship, revealing that Joe hung out on the sets of all his movies since the first time they met. "He liked being on the set of Daredevil a lot more than being on the set of Gigli," Affleck said, presumably to morose silence, because no human being has had time enough to heal from that wound.
For Joe's 25th birthday, Affleck and his then-wife Jennifer Garner matched contributions of up to $25,000 to a children's charity that specializes in Joe's disease. Joe sadly passed away in 2015, having already outlived his prognosis by at least a decade. But he died being able to say that he was pals with Batman, which is a sun that shines only on a privileged few.
Alec Baldwin Gave 100 Percent Of His Capital One Earnings To Arts Charities
One celebrity we tend to associate with red-faced bellowing at anyone who irritates him is the eldest and occasionally handsome Baldwin, Alec. Lost in the mix of all these flare-ups and calling bullshit on us for certain articles is the fact that he's running one of the more amazingly benevolent ad campaigns in recent memory.
Yes, believe it or not, this crap is actually helping humanity.
The Capital One "What's in your wallet?" series of advertisements could instead be called "Alec Baldwin shits out piles of philanthropic money, plus also credit cards or something." Baldwin wasn't exactly a tightwad before, serving up a cool million in donations to the New York Philharmonic and another half million to the Roundabout Theatre Company. When Capital One approached Baldwin to rent his face for their ads, he told them up front he would probably donate all the proceeds to charity. Capital One sweetened the deal by offering to match any donation of up to $50,000 that customers made to his favorite arts charity. This delighted the characteristically enthusiastic Baldwin.
Alec Baldwin, looking excited.
Baldwin, to his credit, lived up to his word. He turned over every single dollar he made to his charitable foundation, which -- after the deduction of accounting fees and taxes -- came to $14.125 million. Now if only he would set up a foundation that donates money every time he quits Twitter in a self-righteous rage, he'd be a regular Scrooge McDuck.
Russell Crowe Is An Insane Robin Hood Who Just Shows Up When Needed
From threatening Holocaust survivors to going on bizarre Twitter rants, every time we at Cracked visit the chaotic place that is the mind of Russell Crowe, we come away a little more traumatized. However, despite his poor temperament, it turns out that Crowe has a lot in common with his character Robin Hood: He loves taking money from the asshole rich (himself), and giving it to good causes.
Crowe in his everyday attire.
While filming Robin Hood, Crowe wandered into a cancer research charity during a lunch break, as one does, and cut them a check for $1,000 completely out of the blue. During the same movie, he helped extras raise $75,000 to build a replica fort to do battle reenactments, which is a cause exactly 75 times as noble as curing cancer. This all might seem like a bit of method acting, but it's far from a one-time thing.
When a child drowned not far from his residence in Australia, Crowe handed over $200,000 to build a community swimming pool that would offer swim lessons to local public schools. When a Jewish school in Montreal was bombed in 2004, a clear hate crime, Crowe popped in out of nowhere and gave away a quarter of a million dollars to help the school rebuild. When another pool in Australia needed $40,000 to add handicapped access, Crowe supplied the entire sum. Basically, if you're an Aussie and you have pool-related problems, Russell Crowe has got that shit covered. And that's without counting his smaller acts of charity, like when a public basketball court needed a new net and he showed up to install it by himself.
He almost came back and ripped it away when he saw that pun.
Crowe is also a good guy to have as a friend. After his pal Mark "Spud" Carroll's rugby career ended, Crowe helped to fund a gymnasium for him to run. If you're in a band with Crowe, though, that's the bee's pajamas. In 2001, Crowe invited the other members of his old band Thirty Odd Foot Of Grunt to crash at a place he owned ... and just let them live there, rent-free, for 15 years. Sadly, they had to leave in 2016 when the place was sold as part of a divorce settlement. Hopefully, they'll adjust to their new life inside Russell Crowe's ex-wife's closet.
It's Spring Break! You know what that means: hot coeds getting loose on the beaches of CancÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂºn and becoming imperiled in all classic beach slasher ways: man-eating shark, school of piranhas, James Franco with dreadlocks. There are so many films about vacations gone wrong, it's a chore to wonder if there's even such a thing as a movie vacation gone right. Amity Island and Camp Crystal Lake are out. So what does that leave? The ship from Wall-E? Hawaii with the Brady Bunch? A road trip with famous curmudgeon Chevy Chase? On this month's live podcast Jack O'Brien and the Cracked staff are joined by some special guest comedians to figure out what would be the best vacation to take in a fictional universe. Tickets are $7 and can be purchased here!
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