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THE MOTION PICTURE RELIEF FUND, INC. OF LOS ANGELES A STUDY OF THE ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT' OF ITS PROGRAM AND PRACTICES
A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Social Work The University of Southern California
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Social Work
hy Ann Angione June 1942
UMI Number: EP66171
All rights reserved INFORMATION TO ALL USERS The quality of this reproduction is dependent upon the quality of the copy submitted. In the unlikely event that the author did not send a complete manuscript and there are missing pages, these will be noted. Also, if material had to be removed, a note will indicate the deletion.
UMI EP66171 Published by ProQuest LLC (2014). Copyright in the Dissertation held by the Author. Microform Edition © ProQuest LLC. All rights reserved. This work is protected against unauthorized copying under Title 17, United States Code
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T h is thesis, w r it t e n u n d e r the d ir e c t io n o f the c a n d id a te ’s F a c u l t y
C o m m itte e a n d a p p r o v e d
by a l l its m em bers, has been presen ted to a n d accep ted by the F a c u lt y o f the G ra d u a te S c h o o l o f S o c ia l W o r k in p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f the re q u ire m e n ts f o r the degree o f
MASTER OF SOCIAL WORK
F a c u lty C o m m itte e
C a a irm a n
TABLE OP CONTENTS CHAPTER I.
THE PROBLEM. AND DEFINITIONS OPTERMS USED.........
Statement of the problem......... ........ .. «
Importance of the s t u d y .....................
Definitions of Terms used
• • ................
Actor. * .........
S t a r ......... •............................
• . • .
. . . . .
Screen Actors1 Guild.........................
Screen Directors* Guild.. . .
Screen Writers* Guild. ...................... Organization of thesis . . . . .
Previous studies of the Motion Picture Relief F u n d ...............
Statement of sources of data and method of procedure......... . II.
. . . . . . . . .
THE ORGANIZATION OP THE MOTION PICTURE INDUSTRY. . 11 Importance of the motionpicture industry. . . . Psychological aspect of work in the motion picture industry........ .................. 13
CHAPTER Conditions of work in the motion picture •
• • •
Branches of the industry Organization of the employees of the motion picture industry • • •
Employer-Employee relationships. . . . . . . .
Screen Actors* Guild ........................
Organization of clubs for studio employees . •
THE ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE MOTION PICTURE RELIEF FUND, INC......................... 42 Motion Picture war service association • . • • •
The Motion Picture Branch of the Actor*s Fund. .
Early operations..................... • • •
Incorporation of the Motion Picture Relief Fund of A me rica....................................47 Participation of m e m b e r s ........................ 50 Membership.......... . ...................... - 50 Officers...........
Board of trustees.
Executive committee. • • • . . • • • • • • • .
Special Case Committee
Home Eligibility Committee
Volunteer Christmas Committee. . . . . . . . .
Christmas Party Committee.
iii CHAPTER IV.
THE PROGRAM AND POLICIES OP THE MOTION PICTURE RELIEF FUND, INC.
. . . . . . .
Fund office building . . . . .
Organization of departments..............
Auditing department.................... Publicity department...................
72 . .
Duties and responsibilities of the professional staff. .
Social service program
. . . . . . .
Eligibility for assistance . . . • • . • • • •
Responsibility of the social worker. • • • • •
Procedure of handling cases..................
Preparation of budget........................
Dental c a r e . .........................
Maternity c a r e ...................
Loans. . . . . . . . ' .........
Transportation service....... • ............
PAGE Funeral and burial service
Care for the aged............................... 102 ............ . * 102
Home for the aged.
Pension p l a n ........................... .. V.
THE FINANCIAL ORGANIZATION OFTHE MOTION PICTURE RELIEF FUND, INC.. .
Finance and accounting...................
Building account ...........................
Special case fund............................. 133 Trustees1 account. •
Sources of Income Salary deductions.
Community Chest contributions..............
The designated relief fund •
Theatre Authority Fund ...................... 156 Direct contributions ................ . . . .
Miscellaneous income ........................ 157 VI.
SUMMARY AND FINDINGS..................... Summary.................
Similarity to welfare organizations............. 163 Purpose. . . . . . Eligibility. .
Method of support. • . ........
Structure and organization • • • • • • • • . .
Similarity to social insurance principles. . . .
Cooperative Effort . .
Qualifications for eligibility • • • • • • • •
Contributions and benefits .................. 170 Financial organizations. . .
Pension plan « • • • • • • • .............
Attitude of leaders of the Motion Picture Relief Fund...................................177 BIBLIOGRAPHY................... APPENDIX A * . . . .
. . ♦ 182
APPENDIX B .......................
vi LIST OP TABLES TABLE
I.Annual Earnings of Extra Players 1937-1940 • • • II.
Income and Expenditures for the Years 1925 through 1929 .................................
Total Case Load and Types of Service from 1938 through 1 9 4 1 ...........................
Average Yearly Earnings for Extra Players 1937-1940
Income and Expenditures for the Years 1935 through 1940 .'.................
CHAPTER I THE PROBLEM AND DEFINITION OF TERMS USED Statement of the problem.
It was the purpose of this
study to trace the origin, growth and development of the pre sent day organization of the Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc., first in order to study the adaptation of its organization to the peculiar needs of the motion picture industry, and second to discover the relationship, if any, of its practices to basic social insurance principles. Importance of the study.
The Motion Picture Relief
Fund, Inc., after eighteen years of existence, has finally come to be the recognized relief-giving welfare organization for the entire motion picture industry.
It has expanded and
corrected Its organization and welfare services to meet the growing needs and problems peculiar to the motion picture industry.
The scope of its services and the magnitude of its
relief expenditures make this organization important in the total picture of the welfare organizations in the community of Los Angeles. DEFINITIONS OF TERMS USED Actor.
In the motion picture Industry the actor is the
individual who plays a part, represents a character or enacts
2 a role in the filming of pictures.
Actor is the masculine
player while actress is the female player.
Leo Calvin Rosten
states that in Hollywood, The actor is a talented mime or a beautiful person who is given a part and directed in the performance of that part. The decisions which actors make are relatively uncomplicated; their power to influence a story is relatively subordinate.1 Actors are known as Class A actors in their union organization of the Screen Actors Guild.
The problem of the actor in the
motion picture colony of Hollywood is the struggle to maintain his social status through which he attains prestige, power and authority.
The more money the actor earns the greater the
prestige and power enjoyed.
Actors’ salaries depend largely
upon their personal box office appeal.
actors earn large salaries in the motion picture industry. According to Mr. Rosten only 80 actors and actresses earned salaries of more than $75,000 in 1938.^ Star.
Stars are actors or actresses who reach the top
ranks in acting in motion pictures.
Due to their popularity
and box office appeal they earn enormous salaries.
falling into this classification are designated as those having
^ Leo Calvin Rosten, Hollywood, (New Yorks Brace and Company, 1941), p. 331. 2 Ibid., p. 341.
achieved stardom* stardom.
Prestige and power are associated with
Pew actors or actresses ever attain this position
and those who do enjoy stardom for a relatively short dura tion « Extra.
The extras are not to he confused with actors.
In Hollywood they lead a different life, do different work and are concerned with different problems.
They are employed
in the filming of motion pictures for the sake of background and atmosphere.
The Screen Actors Guild classifies them as.
Glass B actors.
Leo Rosten aptly describes extras in his
statement that, The extras never play a character in the movies; they do not speak lines; they do not really ’act* — except in the broadest sense. (A group of extras may be instructed to dance, walk, look happy, sad, or 1natural*f) In the movies the extras are important an masse, .not as individuals. Their names are never mentioned on the screen.^ The Hollywood legend about the extra who makes a sudden jump to stardom Is unfortunately not supported by facts.
seldom become leading players and they almost never reach stardom.
Extras comprise the bulk of those persons seen in
motion pictures* Writer*
In the motion picture industry a writer is
merely one of the employees engaged In the manufacture of
^ Rosten, o£. cit*, p. 332*
4 motion pictures.
In this industry writers do not have the
same freedom of creation as the writer of a play or a novel. The latter Invests his own time, energy and talent.
screen writer is limited in that he Is instructed to adapt a novel for screen production.
He is subject to the authority
of the producer employing him.**' Director.
The director in the motion picture Industry
is responsible for the manner in which a story is told on the screen.
He translates a writer’s creation Into a motion
picture. The director takes script, actors, cameramen*,, technicians, and directs them in the literal mean ing of the word, fusing the parts into a single pattern with a point, a purpose, a central theme. He controls the pace and rhythm, the overtones and meaning of a screen play.^ According to Leo Rosten, directors are the central craftsmen of the screen and constitute the key men of the industry. Producer.
The producer is the employer in the motion
He supervises all that goes into the mak
ing of motion pictures and is responsible for personnel manage ment, as well as administration of the production of motion
^ Rosten, 2
cit., pp. 306-307.
As his job is to make pictures that bring profits
he is concerned with the efficiency of production.
tion of the producer is important and carries with it the element of power.
He is identified with the company and the
company1s point of'view*
The production of motion pictures
is a business involving great costs, elaborate equipment and complex interrelationships of human beings.
It requires in
dividual^ with a combination of imagination, creative abil ity and the knack for a businessman1s approach.
In the words
of Jesse Lasky, who is a producer, The producer must be a prophet and a general, a diplomat and a peacemaker, a miser and a spendthrift. He must have vision tempered by hindsight, daring governed by caution- the patience of a saint and the iron of a Cromwell. Screen Actors G u i l d .2 The Screen Actors Guild is the actors1 trade union in the motion picture industry and is affiliated with the American Federation of Labor.
launched by a group of actors and actresses, who were union minded, during the summer of 1933.
It is the collective
bargaining agent for motion picture actors and represents them in dealing with producers.
The Guild makes employer-
Ibid., p. 239. 2 Murray Boss, Stars and Strikes, (New York: University Press, 1941), pp. 14§-1Y4.
6 employee agreements relative to working conditions and rates of pay, conditions of contracts and the settlement of dis putes.
It is considered more than a trade union as it also
serves as a professional organization for actors. Screen Directors1Guild.^
The Screen Directors Guild is
the trade union for motion picture directors.
It was organized
in 1956 for the purpose of collective bargaining between directors and producers.
Like the Screen Actors Guild it is
also serving the directors as a professional organization.
Screen Writers1 Guild.*
The screen writers of the mo
tion picture industry established the Screen Writers1 Guild of the Authors1 League in December, 1920.
The Guild was
created, (1) to stimulate and procure adequate copyright legislation; (2) to combat motion picture censorship; (3) to insure more sympathetic treatment for its members; (4) to obtain proper screen credits for them; (5) to help them secure sufficient compensation and recognition; and (6) to provide them with information as to their legal rights and remedies.^
1 Ibid., pp. 208-211. * Ross, o£. clt., pp. 55-63. 3 Ibid., p. 53.
7 The Guild has become the collective bargaining agent for screen writers and during the years since its first organiza tion has succeeded in improving writer-producer relations. Organization of thesis.
In the second chapter, as a
background for the study of the Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc., the organization of the motion picture industry is described in order to show its relationship to the Fund and the need for the latter organization^ existence.
of work and the organization of employers and employees are discussed. The third chapter Is a discussion of the origin and development of the Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc.
are a description of the early period of development, the period of development since incorporation, development of the relationship to the Community Chest of Los Angeles, and the development of participation of members. The fourth chapter is concerned with the present day organization of the Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc.
cribes the departmental organization and discusses the social service program. Chapter five 'is devoted to a discussion of the financial organization with a view towards noting the differences from other welfare organizations and pointing out the unique aspects.
8 The sixth and final chapter gives a brief summary of the unique aspects of the structure, function, and social service program of this organization.
attempt to point out how the Fund differs from a typical welfare agency and the relationship of its practices to basic social insurance principles. Previous Studies of the Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc. In the history of the organization of the Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc. there have been two studies made. first one was made in 1925.
This was done under the auspices
of the Los Angeles Community Welfare Federation which engaged Mr. Karl de Schweinitz and Miss Ruth Hill of the American Association for Organizing Family Social Work in New York to study all family social work in the city.
This study was for
the purpose of discovering the duplication of work in the many organizations that existed at that time.
study is not available to the writer, it is noted through the minutes of the Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc. that the work it was carrying on was not considered a duplication of any other organization and that there was a need for its existence# A second study of this organization was made in the slimmer months of 1929 by Samuel Haig Jameson, Professor of Sociology at the University of Minnesota.
He was engaged
temporarily as an investigator of the Social Service Depart-
9 ment of the City of Los Angeles.^*
The purpose of this study
was to discover whether the Fund could receive the endorsement of the Social Service Department of the City of Los Angeles as a charitable organization.
As a result of this study the
Motion Picture Relief Fund received this re-endorsement for the following year after modifying its practices according to the recommendations of the report of this investigation. Statement of sources of data and method of procedure. This is an historical study of the origin and development of the Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc. which describes the structure and function of its present day organization In order to analyze its social service program. Information for this study has been obtained through a careful study of the minutes, files, mimeographed material, and annual reports In the office of the Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc.
Interviews have been held with the Executive
Secretary, Assistant Executive Secretary, and the Auditor of the Auditing Department.
Interviews were also held with the
President and Vice-President of the Fund.
In addition to
these there were Interviews with the Chairman of the Case Committee and one other of Its members.
^ The Social Service Department of the City of Los Angeles exists for the purpose of passing upon the endorse ment of all charitable and welfare organizations and solicita tions.
Any material used that was based on a knowledge of social insurance principles was taken from the literature available in this field to which reference is made in the bibliography*
CHAPTER II THE ORGANIZATION OP THE MOTION PICTURE INDUSTRY In order to appreciate the conditions which underlie the Motion Picture Relief Fund and the problems peculiar to the industry with which It must cope it is necessary to under stand something of the structure of the motion picture In dustry.
To describe the ramified branches of the industry
would be a study in itself.
It is only possible here to
touch upon those aspects of the complicated structure that relate directly to the operation of the Motion Picture Relief Fund* Importance of the Motion Picture Indus try.
picture industry ranks fifth in the United States for total expenditures and advertising.
It is thirty-fourth in the
nation’s business and fifth in Los Angeles County.^
said to be among the first ten single commodity industries in the United States* It pays the government over $100,000,000 in taxes annually, spends $30,000,000 for insurance, and adver tises to an amount of $77,000,000 a year in the United States and $33,000,000 annually In other parts of the world*2
^ Jack Alicoate, Editor, Film Daily Year Book for 1941, (New York: Film Daily, 1941), p. 35* ^ Barrett C. Kiesling, Talking Pictures, (New York: Johnson Publishing Co., 1937), p. 22.
12 Film history has had an exciting past*
and expanding the motion picture industry is never stationary but is changing and ever flexible*
How far-reaching in scope
is the influence of this important industry is seen in these statistics which tell the life history of the motion picture industry.
There were 17,003 theatres open in January, 1940.
An average of 80,000,000 persons attend motion picture theatres in the United States each week, according to an estimate made by the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America. The annual box office receipts were $1,000,000,000. annual Hollywood payroll was $129,000,000. capital investment of $125,000,000.
There was a studio
The motion picture in
dustry employed 282,000 of which 28,500 were in the production end; 12,500 in the field of distribution; and 241,000 were classified as exhibition employees.1 The total cost of motion picture production in the United States for 1939 including feature pictures, short sub jects, newsreels and non-theatrical pictures was $215,664,929. The Department of Commerce gives the following employment statistics for the industry:
125,684 exhibition employees
U. S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, James W. Young, Director, Business Informa tion Bureau, Moving Pictures, Theatres, and Amusements, 1939.
13 with an annual payroll of $131,583,000#
are broken down ,into two groups, (1) salaried officers or 9,635 persons earning $93,341,137 annually and (2) wage earners or 33,687 persons earning $45,735,926 per year and 11,332 distribution employees who earn an annual payroll of $21,195,000*
The total number of employees in all branches
of the motion picture industry in 1939 was 170,703 with a total payroll of $291,855,063 per year*
The capital investment
in the motion picture industry as estimated by the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors Association is $2,050,000,000, distributed as follows:
$1,9000,000,000; studios, $125,000,000; distribution $25,000,000.1 It is evident that this vast industry has reached maturity and is sharing directly in all that concerns this nation.
Despite its dedication to entertainment the industry
affects the lives.of countless numbers of workers and has become a tremendous political, economic and social force* Psychological aspect of work in the motion picture industry* Motion pictures cannot be considered without men tion of Hollywood where seventy per cent of all the world1s
^ Terry Ramsaye, Editor, Motion Picture Almanac, (Hew York: Quigley Publishing Co*, 1941-42), p* 746*
14 commercial films are produced.
Due to the advantages of
climatic conditions and proximity of all kinds of natural scenic beauty Southern California has naturally become the production center of motion pictures.
renowned as the motion picture industry center and the home of the stars, rightfully boasts the world’s largest single assemblage of talent and trained men and women.^ Boys and girls who receive the applause of friends and parents and favorable press notices in home town papers for their performances in high school plays often become firmly convinced that they are destined to shine with the brightest stars of Hollywood.
At great sacrifice these youngsters make
their way to the screen capital only to find the studio gates locked against them.
They crowd the waiting rooms of the
Central Casting Corporation day after day.
Though they soon
learn that the Cinderella fairy tales of former days are non existent they refuse to give up hope of employment and success even when their funds are exhausted.
Even though they manage
to get occasional employment as extras they do not earn enough for self support.
Still they cling to their ambition and re
fuse to seek any other kind of work.
Kiesling, op. cit., p. 7*
After three years of
15 this precarious existence with intermittent employment they become eligible for assistance through the Motion Picture Relief Fund*
Usually they call at the office asking assist
ance long before they are eligible. This steady trek of young people to the motion picture center has increased in volume year by year since the birth of the industry in Hollywood.
This type of case constitutes
one of the grave problems of the Motion Picture Relief Fund. Actors and actresses however comprise less than eight per cent of the so-called motion picture colony of Holly wood. Acting offers fewer immediate opportunities to the * ambitious than its related vocations. Paper hangers, cosmeticians, hairdressers, sculptors, mechanics, or chemists are more frequently needed than actors them selves. But because a Robert Taylor, a Fernand Gravet, a Jean Muir, or a Deanna Durbin appears out of thousands, every goodlooking young man or young woman in the country seems to think that the quickest road to film for time is through a nice figure, beautiful teeth, and a lovely smile.1 No amount of privation or even hunger seems to destroy belief in that success which eludes yet lures.
the would-be actors is the conviction that six-figure salaries and palatial homes will one day be theirs.
The fact that the
average annual sum earned in the industry is $>361.03j2
1 Ibid., p. 27. 2 The Film Daily Year Book for 1941, og. £it., p. 37.
16 dooms these ever-hopefuls to disappointment and often to des titution.
Yet no matter how hard and disillusioning the life
they would rather starve within the industry than seek less glamorous employment outside it* A star today may not he a star tomorrow.
pends upon the public and the public is a fickle master. Even the great names In the industry live in fear of diminish ing popularity.
It is this fear that often drives them to
bizarre behavior in their effort to first attract and then hold fans* attention. These circumstances swell the relief rolls of the Motion Picture Relief Fund with clients who have by no means reached even the early age of superannuation expected in the industry. In addition, the motion picture industry is hard on its employees physically and mentally.
This is unavoidable due
to the nature of the industry itself. keen.
Competition Is cruelly
Grooming which is both time-consuming and expensive,
is an absolute essential. quently exhausting.
Hours of work are long and fre
In consequence actors age quickly.
Strangely enough although the life is strenuous and rivalry bitter there is a concrete feeling of solidarity that extends from the producer down to the humblest laborer on the lot.
This feeling of comradeship is the corner stone upon
which the foundation of the Motion Picture Relief Fund rests.
17 How literally this is the case, analysis of the work of the Fund will prove* In motion picture parlance, the word "star” signifies one who has reached the top rank in acting. has been the only road to stardom.
So far acting
Of the great number of
aspirants, only a few reach stardom an accomplishment which depends upon screen personality as differentiated from acting ability* This matter of screen personality has interesting angles. Two people who are equally charming when seen face to face are photographed. The photograph adds strength to the personality of one, the other ffades1 out and becomes less powerful* This is the reason why some people become film stars and why, when they achieve this eminence, they are paid large salaries*^ Even stars of the greatest magnitude remain at the zenith of their career and popularity for comparatively short periods of time*
Moreover, financially the star*s position is not so
enviable as It appears to the popular mind. He earns his big salary for his exclusive commodity, his personality, for perhaps seven years, hut he is re quired to pay taxes exactly as if he were to make that salary all his life. He has exceptional expenses for clothes and for a staff to handle his enormous mall. And from his salary he must save enough to maintain him self and his family, if he has one, the remainder of his life. For when the public tires of a star it does so very thoroughly. Quite callously it forgets in a year a star once Idolized* In two years it may not even remember his n a m e .2
1 Ibid., p. 139. ® Loc. cit*
18 This early superannuation constitutes one of the greatest problems with which the Motion Picture Relief Fund most deal* The lure of stardom and the fabulous salaries earned by the stars constitute the popular conception of the motion picture industry*
As a matter of fact the salaries of stars
comprise a very small part of the cost of production of a picture*
Each picture production dollar is spent approximately
as follows:1 Stories
Directors and c a m e r a m e n ............... 13.20$ S e t s .................................... 9*90$ Costumes ............
* • « • • •
Locations............ * ..................2*75$ Raw m a t e r i a l s .......................... 7.70$ Administration • • • • * ...........
All players from the star to the last member of a crowd scene......... * . 24.65$ Conditions of work in the motion
human element is essential to the success of a film.
the director depends upon types to make his characters convinc ing.
No longer does he expect one actor to be able to give a
**■ Kiesling, op. cit *, p. 139.
19 variety of characterizations.
Rather he prefers to use a
life type in the portrayal of a part.
This has added much to
the problem of casual employment within the motion picture Industry.
There can be no solution for the problem of casual
employment while the making -of pictures requires the wide range of types in extra work.^
Every casting department with
in, a studio keeps a cross index file for use by the director of all possible types to be used as extras.
On these cards
are the names, ages and abilities of the numerous actors and actresses that are extra or bit players, crowd or racial atmosphere.
The Central Casting Corporation which is the
single employment agency within the industry registering and placing the largest number of actors and actresses, keeps a rather complete file of actors for use by the various studios.^ The problem of the extras in Hollywood was to a large extent responsible for establishing the Central Casting Cor poration within the motion picture industry.
The extra pro
blem itself was aggravated by the studios* haphazard hiring
1 Ross, o£. clt., p. 88. 2
The Central Casting Corporation is by no means the only agency placing actors and actresses within the motion picture industry. There are still several commercial employ ment agencies engaged in this type of placement work, but it is generally conceded that Central Casting has more actors and actresses registered and makes a greater number of place ments than any of the other commercial employment agencies.
As studios did not offer regular steady employ
ment extras had to make the rounds daily.
This taxed their
time and energy besides burdening them with large traveling expenses.
Frequently they carried complete wardrobes in
order to be able to fill any opening that might occur.
sistent complaints to the public drew attention to the diffi cult situation of the extras.
Such complaints resulted in
adverse publicity for the industry so that the industry it self took steps to remedy the glaring abuses to which extras were subjected.
Will Hays engaged Mary Van Kleeek of the
Russell Sage Foundation to study the social and employment conditions of the extras in Hollywood.
In this study it was
disclosed there was a need for a free central employment agency to rectify conditions of employment.
On December 4,
1925, fifteen months after this survey had been made, the Association of Motion Picture Producers established the Central Casting Corporation. Central Casting is a service organization formed and owned by motion picture producers with producing companies who are members paying the expenses of the organization. This service organization offers a liason between day-work actors and the employers.
This system simplifies the employ**
Ing process, eliminates duplication as well as former abuses suffered by extras through the commercial employment agencies. Furthermore it discourages additions to the extra ranks and
instead develops a residue of extras who are called upon more frequently and might supposedly he able to earn a decent liv ing from their employment as extras. Only a small number of those registered at Central Cast* ing can be placed daily.
There are no available statistics
to show the exact labor turnover and whether or not the extras placed one day are the same as those placed on another day. Average daily placements have been small over the last fifteen years.
In 1926 there were 828 daily placements, while in 1940
there were only 730.
The peak year in placements was reached
in 1927 with 1,056 average daily placements.^ Central Casting has consistently held it to be an im possibility for the majority of minor players to find selfsupport from their work in small parts.
It persistently dis
courages anyone*s going to Hollywood for the purpose of obtain-
1 YEAR 1926 1927 1928 1929 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 Ross, 0 £. c i t ., p. 75.
AVERAGE DAILY PLACEMENT.
259,259 330,397 276,155 262,958 252,446 189,589 214,603 251,914 219,857 278,486 268,436 294,307 264,268 294,432 228,342:
828 1,056 882 840 807 606 686 805 702 890 858 940 844 941 730
Ing such work*
Its registrants are now mostly made up of
players from within the industry who were at one time of greater importance and who no longer have steady employment* but wish to keep connection with the profession.
Casting steadily points out that it cannot offer a start to wards stardom and registration with it is not a good entry into pictures.
Only occasionally has an individual registered
through it risen from a position of minor importance to one of professional eminence.
During the first ten years of its
existence, 47,000 people passed through the Central Casting Office.
Of these only 16 have been known to have achieved
On the other hand there are many former stars,
directors and featured.players in extra ranks.
of stars and featured players who have fallen into the extra p
group is much greater than those who have reached stardom. * Before Central Casting was organized the extras paid in dependent agents a commission of ten per cent or more for a day*s pay.
Now they pay no commission and all they earn is
This means a saving to the extras of over $300,000
Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, It1s Happening in Hollywood, March 27, 1939, No. 18, Hollywood. 2 Ross, oj>. cit., p. 86. 3 Ibid., p. 7.
Yet only a few people can support themselves from this work.
The average daily wage depends upon the type of ward
robe required - the better the wardrobe, the higher the daily rate.
Although the average daily wage of oxtra players Has
been relatively high ranging from $8.46 in 1926 to $11.08 in 1940, the total annual earnings of extra players are compara tively small#^
According to the Motion Picture Producers and
Distributors of America in 1938 only 700 people earned $900 a year or more
less than $17*00 a week —
and 74 people
earned $2,000 a year or more -- an approximate weekly wage of $38.00.^
From the following table, it will be noted that the
majority of extras cannot expect to support themselves on their meager studio earnings.^ In 3.937, 14,091 or 88 per cent of the extra players, earned less than $500 a year while only 7 or .04 per cent earned more than $3,000*
In 1938, 6,850 or approximately 77
per cent of the extra players earned less than $500. year none of these players earned $3,000 or more.
6,678 or about 68 per cent of the extra players earned less than $500, with no one earning more than $3,000.
3- Ross, o£. cit*, p. 76* ^ Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, op. cit*, March 27, 1939*
TABLE I ANNUAL EARNINGS OP EXTRA PLAYERS 1937-1940
$3,000 . $S00-$999 .Less than $500 $1,000*-|1,999 ,$2,000-$2,999 i and over per** per per per perNumber Number eentage centage Number centage Number oentage Number centage
25 5,727 or 71 per cent of the extra players earned less than $500*
In this year 10 persons or 0/12 per cent earned $3,000
and over* The ranks of the extra grew from 12,000 in 1920 to 17,500 in 1929.^
In 1936 the number of extra players employed
had reached the peak figure of 22,914 with an average yearly earning per individual of $105.
This group of extra players
represents ninety per cent of all the players seen in motion pictures.
Corresponding figures for subsequent years were:6 TABLE II AVERAGE YEARLY EARNINGS FOR EXTRA PLAYERS 1937-1940
YEAR 1937 5-938 1939 .1940
NUMBER EXTRAS EMPLOYED 15,900 8,875 9,849 7,050
AVERAGE YEARLY EARNINGS PER INDIVIDUAL $187 $320 $317 $350
In addition the industry has drawn upon a reserve of 20,000 to 30,000 casuals*^
1 Ibid., p* 86. ^ Rosten, op. cit., p* 333. Table computed by writer from statistics given in footnote* 3 0£. oit., p. 77.
26 Each major film requires the services of approximately twelve principals of whom two or three who play leading parts are called stars and the others are supporting players, known as actors.
The group of principals represents the autocracy
of the profession.
In large studios about 80 per cent of the
top flight players are recruited from their own stock company. The players are already under contract to the studio from a 1 period covering one to seven years. The remaining twenty per cent belong to the free lance players who go from one studio to another. The great concentration of minor players in Hollywood is one reason why the community has continued in importance in film production.
On the whole Hollywood has encouraged
the steady trek of young aspirants to its center. away campaigns were half-hearted.
Conspicuous publicity which
has been given to the few extras who have risen to wealth and fame has largely been responsible for the continuous flow of hopefuls into this famous community.
Clamor is carefully
nurtured for the purpose of selling pictures.
who is an extra is valuable for the sake of movie-going pub licity.
Unscrupulous advertising has encouraged the influx
Although the Industry recognizes the need for
Kiesling, o£. cit., p. 129.
27 decasualization the ranks of the extras continued to grow over a period of years# The problem of the extra can be solved only by provid ing adequate opportunities for work#
This is not easy#
to the enormous variation in type, age, nationality, and accomplishment necessary for film production the available extra work cannot be concentrated in a group small enough to insure a livelihood#
Extras who depend upon the industry for
work must be available for calls at all times.
they have little opportunity to secure other employment.
sides, most of them are untrained and unable to do any other kind of work and employers in other fields do not want them. It is commonly said that the industry makes this group unem ployable for any other type of work.
For the most part the
glamor of the industry has such a psychological appeal that the extras prefer to remain in it barely making a living rather than to attempt to earn a livelihood in any other manner• Branches of the industry# is divided into three branches: exhibition#
The motion picture industry production, distribution and
The production division employs the talent group
representing 30,000 individuals who are engaged in making 75 per cent of the world’s films#^-
^ Ross, o£. cit.# p. viii.
28 The film distribution end is responsible for selling and delivering pictures to the local theatres.
stitutes the marketing process which is carried on through 447 film exchanges located in 31 different key cities, through out the United States.
For film distribution, 12,500 service
workers are employed.**’ Film exhibition is provided through the 17,000 motion picture theatres throughout the United States.
retail the finished product of the motion picture industry to the public.
A working force of 241J000 employed for this end
of the work include projectionists, door men, cashiers, and o
ushers.° ORGANIZATION OF THE EMPLOYEES OF THE MOTION PICTURE INDUSTRY Unionization of the employees of the motion picture in dustry adds a new chapter to the development of organized labor in America.
The entire creative talent of actors,
writers, and directors has been organized into separate guilds for the purpose of collective bargaining with their employers.
1 Ross, o£. cit., p* viii. ^ Loc. cit*
The exhibition workers were the first of the industry to organize•
Unions in the legitimate theatre had made pro
gress long before the appearance of the film industry.
the latter came into existence the International Alliance of Theatrical State Employees and the American Federation of Musicians were the most powerful unions in the amusement world These unions organized the projectionists and musicians in the picture houses as soon as the motion picture industry de« veloped.
After this attention was focused upon organizing
the production workers.
Employees in the distribution end of
the industry were the last to organize into unions. Employer-Employee Relationships.
Every group of the
motion picture industry Is now organized from the producers down to the lowliest laborer#
The producers* organization is
incorporated under the California laws and is known as the Association of Motion Picture Producers.
They represent the
employers and have more power than any other group in the movie colony.
They determine all practices relating to wage
scales, labor disputes, the talent guilds and the labor unions The 276 trade and professional groups involved* In the produce tion of motion pictures are organized into their respective unions most of which have affiliated with the American Federa**
5 P* ix
30 tion of labor,
Employer-employee relationships are maintained through collective bargaining between the various guilds and craft unions and the Association of Motion Picture Produoers.
latter includes in its membership all the major producers and has been in existence since 1924 when it was first organized to deal with industrial and labor relations in the studios.2 The three guilds, the Screen Actors Guild, the Screen Directors Guild-and the Screen Writers Guild comprise the organization of the talent group within the motion picture industry.
These three talent groups are most important and
have provided leadership in employer-employee relationships. Screen Actors* Guild.
The Screen Actors Guild only has
direct bearing on this study. groups to organize effectively.
It was the first of the talent The stage actors had long
been organized in the Actors Equity Association for the legi timate stage but this had no relation to screen actors.
many years there was no union controlling work of either the actors or extras.
The producers of the industry decided on
the rate of fees which should be paid to extras and the hours they should work.
1 Ibid., p. 4. ® Ibid., p. 214.
31 In May of 1933 a small group of actors met and decided that organizing the actors was vital at this time*
ducers had just decided to give actors a drastic blanket salary cut affecting all contract and free lanco motion picture players*
This was difficult for the actors to accept
particularly in view of the bank closings and the precarious economic conditions.
The idea of this small group was to form
an independent organization for motion picture actors*
desired an organization for the protection of fair economic conditions for actors as well as providing a means for better understanding and cooperation among the various groups within the industry —
production, talent and craft groups.
Officially the Screen Actors Guild was organized on June 30, 1933 when its Articles of Incorporation were filed. The original purpose was stated, to advance the welfare of the motion picture in dustry and those engaged or employed by such industry by providing facilities for the arbitration of dis putes within the industry and by establishing and administering agreements between the members thereof and other branches of the motion picture industry, and in other ways effecting harmonious and just re lations therein.1
^ Ralph Morgan and John 0. Lee, "The Guild", Screen Actor, Lee Losh Publishers, September,.1941, pp. 18-1$•
32 At the time that the screen actors organized, working conditions for this talent group were difficult and exhaust ing.
There was no limit to the number of working hours.
overtime was given for day or weekly players. Time occupied by fittings had no restrictions or compensations.
players had no way of enforcing compliance with agreements. Extras worked for a flat rate of $3.20 a day.^ At first it was very difficult for this group to decide which type of organization would best serve their needs.
actors were certain they did not want an organization pattern ed after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. This organization had played a large part in the pay cuts effected against actors and the actors felt it was prejudiced in favor of the producers.
Equity, the union for the stage
actors, had tried organizing the screen actors as their branch in 1929.
This effort never proved successful.
While it was
believed a branch of Equity would not sufficiently meet their needs, nevertheless, the Guild inherited something of its pattern.
Most of the members of this newly-formed organiza
tion had been stage actors and had at one time belonged to Equity.
Some of them had even been through the Equity strike
in New York in 1919.
In this way they were aware of how Equity
had succeeded in effecting an improvement of economic condi-
1 Ibid., p. 19.
33 tions on the legitimate stage* The original group responsible for calling the first meetings for organizing the actors finally discovered they could make little progress without the influence of the names and personalities of some of the more prominent stars*
who had reached stardom for the most part were affiliated in membership with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Finally these stars were converted to the purpose
of the Guild and after certain unsatisfactory relations with the producers through the Academy resigned from that organiza tion in a body.
They too then joined forces with the Guild.
The original members of the Guild who were important stars signed a document which was in the nature of a contract es tablishing a code for actors.
This code sets forth that,
Ho member would enter into any contract with a pro ducer unless it conformed to the Code. Members agreed not to work for any producer declared by the Guild to be unfair. By signing the Guild Contract, each member agreed to assume liability for stringent penalties in the event he violated the contract terms.JThe organizers of the Guild became the first Board of Directors of 21 members.
The original officers were Ralph
Morgan, President; Alan Mowbray, Vice President; Kenneth Thomson, Secretary; and Lucille Gleason, Treasurer.
^ Morgan and Lee,
cit*, p. 19.
34 Mowbray personally provided the first funds for the work of this organization. all for one.
The Guild1s motto was wOne for all and
He best serves himself who serves others.**
The Screen Actors Guild was organized primarily to serve as a protection for actors and also to better working condi tions.
Its code of ethics imposed a series of penalties mak
ing it impossible for actors to behave unfairly towards pro ducers or producers to behave unfairly towards actors.
Code upholds rigid observance of contractual obligations be tween the actor and the producer.
The Screen Actors Guild and
the Actors1 Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hold opposing views of how best to serve the actors* Interests.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
believes in working with other branches of the Industry includ ing the producers.
The Guild feels that an autonomous organiza
tion composed solely of actors can best protect their interests. The fact that the producers find that their In terests are all best served by having their own autonomous organization, apart and distinct from their Academy representation, proves conclusively the necessity for actors to follow the example set by their employers.1 Although the Guild was organized for actors, as extras petitioned for representation they were admitted into the membership.
At first membership had been limited to what is
XIbid., p. 20.
35 known as classes A and B which are the higher and lower salaried actors.
After extras petitioned for membership a
Class C group was created for them and they were admitted October 24, 1933* Guild.
Thi3 extra group is known as the Junior
Regarding the addition of the extras to the Guild,
the Board of Directors stated, The Screen Actors Guild was formed by actors for actors, for the benefit of all actors. The problems of the extras, although often different from the pro blems of other classes of actors, is the problem of the Guild. We shall courageously meet these problems, as we shall meet the problems of all other actors.^ Six thousand extras are now members of the Screen Actors Guild.
Unfortunately the film industry can provide work only
for approximately 2500 of them.^ Motion picture players have become increasingly aware of the importance of dealing with the problems of labor through an organized front.
Producers have become conscious of the
increasing strength of the voice of the Guild.
years of 1934, 1935 and 1936 active organization took place in the Guild.
On November 15, 1934, the Guild entered a
membership agreement with the Actors1 Equity Association makw ing it compulsory for Equity members who played in pictures
1 Ibid*» P* 52* ^ New York Times, March 1, 1942.
36 to join the Guild#
In the meantime the breach between the
Academy and the Screen Actors Guild strengthened the latter* Affiliation with the American Federation of Labor added to the Guild’s bargaining powers.
Furthermore it joined ten
other performers’ organizations in the Associated Actors and Artists of America*
Then on June 1, 1936, the Screen Actors
Guild affiliated with the California State Federation of L a b o r
#3- Finally after much tedious negotiation with the pro
ducers of the motion picture industry, the Guild was openly recognized on May 9, 1937.
Representatives of the Association
of Motion Picture Producers made public their statement that they favored the organization of the Screen Actors Guild. Today it is compulsory for every actor in the motion picture industry to belong to the Screen Actors Guild. Organization of Clubs for Studio Employees.
to the recognized unions and guilds each major studio has or ganized what are commonly known as studio clubs for the bene** fit of their studio e m p l o y e e s . 2
The major studios that main-
^ John C* Lee, "The Guild” Screen Actor, (Hollywood: Lee & Losh Publishers, October, 1941), pp. 9-10; 22-23* ^ Information on studio clubs was secured through inter views with the followingt Mr. Frank McFadden, Pres., Studio Club, Universal Pictures. Mr. Ed Wald, Publicity Department, Warner Brothers. Mr. H. E. McCroskey, Studio Club Treasurer, Paramount Pictures. There is no printed material on the studio clubs*
tain such clubs are, notably, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, TwentiethCentury Pox, Warner Brothers, Republic Studio, Paramount and Universal.
The various studio clubs are generally organized
for a common purpose and differ only in detail of organizat i o n and administration. is threefold.
The purpose of these studio clubs
They provide an outlet for social activities
and in this way bolster employee morale, they provide for the welfare of the studio employees and they maintain effective employee-employer relationship. Social activities usually include from two to six main events during the year.
The major event is an annual dance,
the profits of which are contributed to the general fund of the studio club to help maintain and continue the services given to the employees throughout the year.
activities consist of occasional dances, picnics, skating, bowling, golfing or any sport in season.
These are held purely
for recreation, no proceeds accruing to the general fund. A welfare department for the benefit of employees is maintained by each of the studio clubs.
The welfare depart
ment provides material relief for the needs of its members who are temporarily without funds. given as well as hospitalization.
Care for the sick is Frequently members are in
need of major operations the expense of which they are not pre pared to meet. department.
They may secure the money from the welfare
Small sums of money may be borrowed from the
38 fund if a member finds himself in difficult circumstances* These loans are made upon the principle that the sum borrowed is to be repaid, usually without interest, and in small enough amounts so that the individual can easily make the payments when again employed.
If assistance to an individual is of
long duration or the employee cannot within a comparatively short time return to his earning s tatus, his problem is re ferred to another social agency that is equipped to handle it. If he has worked in the industry long enough to be eligible for assistance, he is referred to the Motion Picture Relief Fund, as this is the recognized relief agency for the motion picture industry. Membership In the studio clubs includes anyone who is an employee of that studio whether he be actor, actress, electrician, painter, prop-man or any one of the laborers, whereas the guilds are limited to the members of one parti cular craft*
The guilds and craft unions provide for employ*
er-employee relationships within specific groups while the studio clubs permit this relationship in one central organiza tion for all the employees in a studio. Membership in studio clubs is voluntary and in no way ■ Is an effort made to make employees feel an obligation to be long.
The only requirement for membership is that one must
be an employee of the studio in which the club Is organized.
39 There are no limitations as to sex, age or type of work. Each studio club requires either weekly or monthly dues, varying from five cents per week to fifty cents a month.
may be on a sliding scale basis, depending upon wages earned, or they may be a specified sum for all employees.
no initiation fees. In addition to the three benefits of membership already mentioned, low cost insurance is frequently provided.
is financed on the group insurance plan, either carried through a commercial insurance company or maintained by the studio itself, if it is large enough.
The usual kinds of insurance
provided by this group plan are:
accident and disability,
sickness and hospitalization and death benefits.
As an addi
tional benefit, if a member temporarily cannot make his pre mium payments the studio club will assume the responsibility for him until he is able to resume such payments# Most of the studios have had these clubs for many years and their organization has followed the pattern of benefit associations in large industries.
The structure Is the usual
one of a benefit association with a board of governors as the supreme power and officers consisting of a president, several vice-presidents and a financial secretary.
Officers and the
board of governors are elected annually by the entire member ship of the studio club.
In addition the work of the clubs
is facilitated by the various committees selected by the board
40 of governors or appointed by the president. usually are:
a welfare committee, entertainment committee
and membership committee.
Prom time to time new committees
are formed as needed and dissolved when their purpose has been -accomplished.
Sometimes the welfare activities are carried
on by the several vice-presidents rather than by a separate committee. studio.
This depends upon the choice of the particular
The work in this connection is to make an investiga
tion of the actual need of the applicant for assistance. The general fund of the studio clubs was originally created by a lump sum contribution from the employer in most cases.
This sum was invested and the interest accruing main**
tains the fund.
After these funds are once started they are
continued and maintained by membership dues and the proceeds from the one annual benefit.
In some studios special assess
ments are made as required. As this discussion indicates there are a number of groups within the industry organized to promote the welfare of its employees and to provide relief of a limited nature.
so brief a review of motion picture work and life as that con~ tained In these pages proves how impossible it is for unions, guilds, and studio clubs to meet the manifold needs of those engaged in the industry within its peculiar hazards and inse curity.
It is this further assistance which the Motion
Picture Relief Fund fills.
41 To evaluate adequately the program of the Fund it is necessary to keep always in mind the background of life with in the studio gates and the conditions which called the Fund into being and which have direct bearing on its mode of sup port and operation.
CHAPTER III THE ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OP THE MOTION PICTURE RELIEF FUND, INC. The Motion Picture Relief Fund as it exists today is the end result of twenty-five years of development.
out this period its growth as an organization has kept pace with the ever-changing character and need of the industry which it serves.
Its beginning dates from the first World
War when certain prominent members of the motion picture industry became aware of the needs of employees of the in dustry, who had met with vicissitudes as a result of active service in the war. Motion Picture War Service Association*
Many men who
had formerly been employed in the motion picture Industry were either incapacitated and unable to work, or found themselves In financial difficulties and unable to support their depend** ents and families.
A few interested members of the industry
organized on a temporary basis the Motion Picture War Service Association for the purpose of extending temporary relief to other members of the industry suffering need.
Two years after
the ending of the war this organization was dissolved.
who had been responsible for It recognized the urgent need for a more permanent organization to administer relief exclu-
43 sively to members of the film profession and industry.
Prank Woods, a former newspaper writer, at the time a film writer who had been an active member of the Motion Picture War Service Association, was delegated by a small group of interested people within the motion picture industry to take the initial steps towards forming a permanent relief organiza tion. About this time Daniel Frohman, the president of the Actor*s Fund of America, whose headquarters were in New York City, proposed the idea of staging a carnival in Los Angeles for the benefit of the Actor’s Fund.
This benefit was made
possible almost entirely through the gratuitous efforts and cooperation of the film colony.
The net proceeds amounting
to $18,000 were transferred to the Actor’s Fund in New York City. Shortly after this, Mr. Frohman suggested that the pro posed Motion Picture Relief Association on the West Coast be come a subsidiary of the Actor’s Fund in New York to be known as the ^Motion Picture Branch of the Actor’s Fund11.
tions were concluded for the net proceeds from the Carnival staged in Los Angeles to be transferred to New York City to the credit of the Motion Picture Branch of the Actor’s Fund, to be used as needed for the relief operations of the newly formed branch.
44 The Motion Picture Branch of the Actor *s Fund#
Motion Picture Branch of the Actor*s Fund held its first meet ing on August 24, 1921 in Hollywood, California.
meeting a letter from Mr. Frohman was read appointing W. J* Reynolds, Treasurer, and Mark Larkin, Secretary, the three to serve as the original executive committee.
the Reverend Heal Dodd was appointed an investigator for the organization.
He was an Episcopal Minister who had been
associated with the industry as a "bit14 player.
At first he
donated his services but when the work increased he was allow ed expenses and a salary.
Later Robert P. Fairbanks was made
Treasurer, and Reverend Dodd succeeded Mark Larkin as Secre tary. When the motion picture organization on the West Coast affiliated with the Actor’s Fund of America, it was with-the agreement it would have its own officers and members.
dues of this organization were stipulated to be $2.00 per year per member, the same as for the Actor’s Fund.
raised through the membership charge was used for charity work amongst persons engaged in the motion picture business. Members of the Motion Picture Branch were considered honorary members of the Actor’s Fund. The organized relief work for the motion picture indus try began August 24, 1921, when the Motion Picture Committee
45 was first formed by Frank Woods and Mark Larkin,
Dodd as investigator acted upon cases and later reported what he had done at the meetings of the main committee, at which time his actions were routinely approved*
A sub-commit tee
was created by the Motion Picture Committee, March 3, 1923 consisting of Reverend Dodd and any two members of the main committee.
It met weekly to act upon all relief matters.
The personnel of the Executive Committee meantime gra dually increased until it included, among others, William T. Wyatt, Ewell D. Moore, Joseph De Grasse, C. G. Erickson, Wedgwood Nowell, Fred W. Beetson, Alfred A. Cohn, Gless Harper, and Donald Crisp*^In addition to the proceeds of the benefit carnival held in Los Angeles, that were transferred from the Treasury in New York City, finances for the Motion Picture Branch were obtained by means of theatrical benefits, annual dues and donations.
Relief cases were delegated to the sub-committee
which met each week to consider emergency relief needs.
though most aid given was of an emergency nature, a few cases were kept on a permanent list.
Reverend Dodd carried the
^ William T. Wyatt was for many years the official rep resentative of the Actor’s Fund in Southern California, Wedg wood Nowell, Mitchell Lewis and Donald Crisp were well-known actors, while Fred W. Beetson was a publicist and Alfred A. Cohn, a writer in the motion picture industry.
46 responsibility of administering relief*
The Executive Com
mittee handled all the projects for the raising of funds. These projects consisted mainly in staging large benefits. Early Operations.
Although comprehensive records of
the early operations of the Motion Picture Branch of the Actor’s Fund are not available, the following figures that were kept, give an idea of its activity.^
and disbursements for relief and overhead operations were: September 30, 1921 to December 31, 1921. • • January 1, 1922 to December 31, 1922
January 1, 1923 to December 31, 1923 ........ January 1, 1924 to December 31, 1924 •
646.23 • 5,045.35 6,509.61
As far as records show, in 1921, 18 cases were aided; in 1922, 33 cases; in 1923, 58 cases; and in 1924, 124 cases.^ Most of the beneficiaries were engaged in screen production. There were a few from the stage who had never been employed in films but the experience of the majority had been divided between legitimate stage, vaudeville and screen.
-*• Motion Picture Branch of Actorfs Fund of America, p.2. (File - "Motion Picture Relief Fund: General, Including Articles of Incorporation*')• ^ Loc* cit.
47 Early overhead expenses were nominal.
Neal Dodd, "both in his capacity as investigator and later as secretary, was the only one to receive remuneration.
November, 1923 the staff was increased when a combined steno grapher and office attendant was engaged to assist the in vestigator.
A year later a social worker was added to the
secretary*s staff to help with the rapidly increasing demands upon the work of the organization.
Reverend Doddfs church
office was used free of charge as headquarters for the Motion Picture Branch of the Actor*s Fund* Incorporation of the Motion Picture Relief.Fund of America.
As it became apparent that the work of the Motion
Picture Branch of the Actor*s Fund would continue to increase with the growing industry, this organization decided it either must have its own identity or a clarification of its relation ship to the Actor* s Fund.
Due to the rapidly increasing num
bers of requests for aid the existing arrangements were not wholly satisfactory.
Finally the Actor*s Fund agreed that
the work of the Motion Picture Branch had become so Important and extensive that the parent organization was too far removed from the center of the motion picture industry in Los Angeles to provide adequately for the Increasing needs.
agreed that their respective interests would be better ad ministered by becoming separate entities and relations were
48 dissolved December 31, 1924* A new phase of the West Coast organization began on this date when the Motion Picture Relief Fund of America was incorporated under a charter granted by the State of Califor nia,
The newly founded Motion Picture Relief Fund received
the sum of $8,400 from the Actor*s Fund, the balance from the proceeds of the original Carnival staged by the Actor's Fund. The charter members^ of the Motion Picture Relief Fund
^-By provisions of the charter the first Board of Trus tees was composed of the following charter members: Joseph M. Schenck, producer Mitchell Lewis, actor Mary Pickford, actress Ro Rob Wagner, writer Douglas Fairbanks, actor Ewell D. Moore, legal counsel Harold Lloyd, actor Mary H. O ’Connor, actress William S. Hart, actor John W. Considine, Jr. producer Charles Chaplin, actor Alfred A* Cohn, writer Mae Murray, actress Mark Larkin, producer Cecil B. deMiller, producer Wegwood Howell, actor Jesse L. Lasky, producer I. G. Thalberg, producer Chas. H. Christie, producer Wm. T. Wyatt, stage manager Robert P. Fairbanks, manager Glen Harper, writer Donald Crisp, actor Joseph De Grasse, director Frank E. Woods, writer Winifred Kingston, actress Fred W. Beetson, producer Victor H. Clarke, producer Hal E. Roach, producer Rev. Neal Dodd, actor Rupert Hughes, writer Of this number, there were 12 actors, 10 producers, 5 writers, and 4 miscellaneous. The original Executive Committee of the Motion Picture Relief Fund was composed of five actors, one producer, one writer, and two who had no direct connection with, the industry. The members of this committee were: Frank E. Woods, Chairman - writer Fred W. Beetson, Vice-Chairman - producer Rev. Neal Dodd, Secretary - actor Ewell D. Moore, Counsel - legal Mary H. O ’Connor, actress Winifred Kingston Farnum, actress William T. Wyatt, Actor’s Fund Donald Crisp, actor Mitchell Lewis, actor
49 met at the Writer *s Club, Hollywood, California, January 20, 1925 and formed their organization by adopting by-laws and electing the following officers to hold office until the annual meeting: President - Joseph M* Schenck, producer First Vice-President - Mary Pickford, actress Second Vice-President - Frank E* Woods, writer Third Vice-President - William S. Hart, actor Fourth Vice-President - Harold Lloyd, actor Treasurer - Victor H. Clarke, producer Secretary - Rev* Neal Dodd This early Executive Committee, Board of Trustees and the officers of the organization, who were mainly concerned with the welfare of the employees of the industry, were drawn from the various branches of the industry:
publicity men, and writers* According to the Articles of Incorporation, the Motion Picture Relief Fund was formed for charitable and benevolent purposes* (a) To receive and raise money by subscription, donation, bequests; by dues from its members, by theatre benefits, fairs and, festivals, and by and in such other ways and means as may from time to time be provided In the By-Laws of said corporation; (b) To invest and reinvest the moneys and pro perty it may receive from any sources in and on such security or securities and in such manner and on such conditions as may be provided in the By-Laws of said corporation; (c) To use, apply and devote the moneys, funds, property and securities, and the Interest, income and gains therefrom, to advance, promote, foster and benefit the condition and welfare of persons
50 engaged in the motion picture profession, and their families, and the aged, indigent and sick "belonging to the said profession, in such way and manner, and at such times as may be provided in the By-Laws of said corporation; (d) To purchase and own such real estate and other property as may be necessary for the purposes of said corporation, and to purchase a home for the aged and indigent members of the motion picture profession in the State of California*1 The whole object and aim of the organization was to pro vide emergency assistance for those employees in the industry who were in need due to lack of employment, illness, accident or other disability* of
The group responsible for the founding
the organization truly understood the insecurity of life
for the worker within the industry.
Throughout the years
members have maintained this understanding and their lively interest in the Motion Picture Relief Fund has led many of them to take active part in the work of the organization* PARTICIPATION OF MEMBERS Member ship. When the Motion Picture Relief Fund incor porated in 1925, provisions were made in the By-Laws governing membership. . There are two classes of memberships in the association, life memberships at $>250 and annual memberships
^ Motion Picture Relief Fund of America, Inc. Second Annual Report 1926, Articles of Incorporation* Article II, p « 25*
51 with dues of one dollar per year.
Any interested person may
become a member upon payment of dues whether or not associated with the motion picture industry.
Though not specifically
designated in the By-Laws, the association also has contribut ing members whose gifts frequently amount to several thousand dollars a year.
Periodic drives have been-made to increase
the number of contributing members. The principal source, of income is from still another type of membership.
In 1932 the practice was begun of seek
ing a voluntary pledge as a contribution to the Motion Picture Relief Fund of one-half of one per cent of the weekly salary of all those in the industry earning fifty dollars or more. This was during the time of the depression when increasing demands upon the Fund and diminishing reserves made some additional source of reserve necessary*
This one-half of one
per cent was arbitrarily decided upon because it amounted to so small a sum from each earner that it could work no hard ship upon him.
This campaign of solicitation was carried on
by the officers, trustees and Executive Committee members of the Motion Picture Relief Fund.
Revenue was directly propor
tionate to the effort they put Into the campaign.
Need for a
more stable basis of income led the officers of the Fund to enlist the cooperation of the producers of the major studios in urging their employees to become pledged contributing mem bers of the Fund.
Over a period of years, through this coop**
52 eration of the major studios, the number of members increased to the point where it became evident that, fully developed, this would become so lucrative a source of income as to make all other types of solicitation unnecessary*
The one-half of
one.per cent was always collected from the studio after the individual employee had signed an agreement authorizing the paymaster to deduct the amount from his weekly pay check. In 1938 when the Motion Picture Relief Fund was reor ganized by the Screen Actors Guild the deduction of one-half of one per cent became mandatory for every actor in the in dustry earning one hundred dollars per week or more. still (1942) voluntary for other groups*
This agreement was
made with the consent and cooperation of the producers.
of March, 1942, there were listed more than 6,000 active mem bers of the Motion Picture Relief Fund.^ ship fees amounts to $342,916.25#
Revenue from member
Of this amount $326,317.05
comes from studio salary deductions while $16,599.20 has been received directly from individual contributions.2 When the By-Laws were amended in July 1, 1938, a fourth type of membership was instituted — granted upon payment of $2,500.
an honorary membership
Money derived from these
^ Figure supplied by the Auditing Department of the Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc. P Figures secured from Anona Rybold, Auditing Department Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc.
53 memberships is deposited in the Building Fund set aside for the home for the aged* The entire membership is entitled to vote at the annual meeting when the officers and the Board of Trustees for the ensuing year are elected.
Amendments to the Articles of In
corporation and the By-Laws are voted upon by the membership* Officers*
The officers of the Fund are President, four
Vice-Presidents and Treasurer.
They perform the usual duties
devolving upon these officers.
The By-Laws provide for a
Secretary and an Assistant Secretary who are paid officers not elected but appointed by the Executive Committee. Secretary serves as the executive head of the Fund.
Assistant Secretary performs the routine secretarial duties of the Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee*^ The legal Counsel for the Fund has always been on the list of officers.
This position never carried a salary until
August 1, 1941 when it was decided that a full-time legal 1 The officers of the Motion Picture Relief Fund for the year 1941-42 ares Jean Hersholt, President - actor Ralph Block, First Vice-President - writer Ralph Morgan, Second Vice-President, actor Walter F. Wanger, Third Vice-President - producer Lucile Webster Gleason, Fourth Vice-President - actress George Bagnall, Treasurer - producer Ewell D. Moore, Counsel - legal counsel Wilma Bashor, Executive Secretary - executive secretary Mary Pickford, President Emeritus - producer Annual Report, Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc*
54 counsel was needed for consultation. Board of Trustees.
The By-Laws provide for the election
of thirty-one members of the Association as the Board of Trustees, a third of whom are elected each year.
twenty-two must be actively engaged in the motion picture in dustry.
As a rule the trustees are reelected year after year.
A few new names have been added over a period of years due to vacancies caused by deaths and resignations. manages and controls the Fund.
It appoints and fixes the
compensation of the secretary and other persons employed to carry out the work of the Fund.
It provides for the raising
of money and the safe deposit and investment of all moneys and funds.
It makes rules and regulations for the granting
of relief and assistance to applicants and passes upon all applications for relief and assistance.
The Board has broad
powers but it serves as the representative body, democratically elected for the entire motion picture industry.
beginning membership on the Board has been truly representa tive of all branches.
One Board for example consisted of
eight actor-producers, four in a miscellaneous category, six actors, eight producers and five writers.
The present Board
of Trustees feels that democratic representation is essential and that the Fund is the entire industry1s organization.
55 Throughout the years of the Fund’s existence, its Board of Trustees has been made up of members genuinely interested and concerned in the activities of the Motion Picture Relief Fund but this interest has been even greater in the past four years since the Fund’s reorganization.
The Board of Trustees
is made up of prominent people in the industry who are con cerned from the humanitarian standpoint in the welfare of the employees of the industry who are in distress and must of necessity apply to the Fund.
It seems to be the feeling of
the members of the Board that each employee within the Motion Picture Industry has an obligation to contribute in order to take care of his own less fortunate fellow workers.
Board participation for 1941-42 of members from within the motion picture industry shows that representation is greatest for the talent and producing groups.
Of the thirty-one
trustees, nine are actors, seven producers, five directors and four writers.
The remaining trustees are a publicist, film
editor, camera-man, make-up artist, former stage actress and the Legal Counsel.*** The members of the Board of Trustees for 1941-42 are as follows: Fred W. Beetson, producer Ewell D. Moore, Legal Counsel Sidney Buckan, writer Ralph Morgan, actor Harold Bucquet, director Conrad Nagel, actor Charles Brackett, actor Mary Pickford, producer Billie Burke Ziegfeld,actress Basil Rathbone, actor Jack Cooper, publicist Frederick Richards, film editor Francis Edwards Farajon,writer Charles G. Rosher, cameraman
56 When the Fund was reorganized in the Spring of 1938 and the incoming Board of Trustees took over, a policy of ~ representation was put into effect which places the Fund under the control of the three talent guilds in the motion picture industry; that is, the Screen Actors* Guild, the Screen Directors* Guild and the Screen Writers* Guild*
eighteen members of the Board of Trustees, a majority, are selected from these guilds; the remainder from producers and all crafts within the industry.
In the early years when the
Fund was considered controlled by the motion picture producers the Board of Trustees was made up largely of producers and prominent actors* In accordance with the policy in effect since 1938, there are six actors chosen from the Screen Actors* Guild to serve upon the Board of Trustees, six directors from the Screen Directors* Guild and six writers from the Screen Writers* Guild. various reasons.
This number varies due to vacancies for The remaining members are made up of the
^ (Continued) Lucille Webster Gleason, actress William Seiter, director Samuel Goldwyn, producer Tess Slesinger, producer Bertha M. Griffith, stage actress Robert Stephanoff, makeup man Walter Lang, director Morgan Wallace, actor Sol Lesser, producer Richard Wallace, director Mitchell Lewis, actor Walter F. Wanger, producer Noel Madison, actor Luci Ward, writer Archie Mayo, director Mary C. McCall, Jr., writer Jack L* Warner, producer Annual Report of the Motion Picture Relief Fund, 1941-42
57 Executive Vice-President of the Producers* Association who is also the President of the Central Casting Corporation and who is considered next in importance to the most prominent member of the industry.
In addition there is a publicist,
four producers, three actors and actresses, one who is both a producer and an actress, a film editor,' a cameraman, a make-up artist, the Legal Counsel who is now an employee of the Fund in this capacity as well as the physician of the Fund who is the chief of the medical staff. The Executive Committee members have been re-elected over and over again by the Board of Trustees.
few names of those who have served over these many years will be sufficient to illustrate this.
Miss Mary Pickford who is
now President Emeritus of the Fund was one of the founders.of the organization and has served it in some official capacity since the beginning.
Mr. Frank Woods was also one of the
founders and prior to his death a few years ago he had served continuously both as an officer and a member of the Executive Committee.
Mr. Fred W. Beetson who was the Chairman of the
Executive Committee for many years is still one of the trustees. Mr. Mitchell Lewis another of the trustees has served on the Executive Committee practically since the beginning.
Ewell Moore who is now not only a trustee but the Fund*s employed Legal Counsel has been a trustee and an Executive Committee member since the beginning of the Fund’s history.
58 Mr* George Bagnall, as well as Mr* Ralph Block, who are now members of the Executive Committee have served in this capa city for many years.
Mr. Block is the First Vice-President
and in the past has been a member of the Board of Trustees* Both Mr. Conrad Nagel and Mr. Jack Warner, who are trustees, were presidents of the Fund in the past and have been very actively associated with the organization since the very early years. Executive Committee.
Twelve members are elected to
the Executive Committee each year from the Fund’s membership by the Board of Trustees.-**
At its first meeting the Executive
Committee elects a chairman from its members.
In addition to
the elected members the President, the several Vice-Presidents and Treasurer are ex-officio members.
The Executive Committee
has all the power and authority vested in the Board of Trus tees during the interval between Board meetings.
the Executive Committee does not have the power to grant an application at any one time, more than $250 without first
1 Originally the Executive Committee consisted of nine members. In order to enlarge itself, this committee voted to add six members to be known as the Advisory Executive Commit** tee. This was done several years ago. It eventually was dis solved and in 1938 the By-Laws of the Motion Picture Relief Fund were amended, providing twelve members on the Executive Committee plus making all of the six officers of the Fund ex officio members, the President, the four Vice-Presidents, and the Treasurer. Amended By-Laws of the Motion Picture Relief of America. Inc. Section 14, p. 4.
59 obtaining the Board*s approval*
The Executive Committee must
execute the orders and directions of the Board of Trustees. It keeps an accurate account of all its proceedings.
are submitted to the Board of Trustees at each of their meet~ ings.
In the early years of its development the Executive Committee met weekly and bi-weekly giving careful considera tion to all applications for relief coming to the Fund.
applications for relief increased and the Executive Committee became more occupied with them it decided to set aside the first Tuesday of each month to conduct other business.
these meetings, individual relief cases were not to be dis cussed.
After this decision was made in October, 1926, at
least three members of the Executive Committee met as fre quently as necessary for sole consideration and disposal of cases.
This not only expedited the work on relief applica
tions but prevented the Executive Committee members from having to protract their weekly meetings to midnight In order to cover all of the work.
Finally in 1938, shortly after the
Fund*s re-organization, a Case Committee was appointed by the Executive Committee for the purpose of handling individual
Amended By-Laws of the Motion Picture Relief Fund of America, Inc. Sections 14-16, pp. 4-5.
Since then the Executive Committee has considered
only such cases that have "been doubtful in character or were brought to it by the Executive Secretary if for some reason she felt it was not possible to follow the recommendations of the Case Committee.
If there is some particular case that
involves a complicated technicality or touches upon policy in any way, it is usually referred for a decision to the Execu tive Committee by the Case Committee. Case Committee.
The Case Committee gradually has taken
over practically all of the Executive Committee^ work in handling cases.
In November, 1938, the Chairman of the Execu
tive Committee expressed the opinion that too much responsi bility had been placed upon the Case Committee and that the Executive Committee should take a more active interest in that work.
It was then decided that all cases accepted by the
Case Committee in one week should be reviewed the following week by the Executive Committee.
Cases refused by the Case
Committee were to be reported in detail.
This procedure was
outlined to enable the Executive Committee to keep in closer touch with the case work of the Fund.^
1 to date.
Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc. Minutes June 1. 1938 Executive Committee. November 8, 1938.
certain cases were rejected by the Case Committee individual applicants appeared before the Executive Committee to present their own case.
On several occasions such rejected applicants
succeeded in obtaining fulfillment of their requests in part or in full for a specified period of time. Since 1938 the Executive Committee has been primarily concerned in its weekly meetings with the Funds1 financial record, expenditures and income and organization.
has also been devoted to the planning and building of the Motion Picture Relief Country Home. The Board of Trustees has vested all the responsibility for the work of the Fund in the Executive Committee.
Chairman of the Executive Committee presents its reports at the monthly meetings of the Board of Trustees.
sions are made by the Executive Committee are usually approved by the Board of Trustees. The number serving on the Case Committee varies from time to time due to vacancies for various reasons.
January, 1942 there were twenty members on this committee. In March, 1942 there were approximately fifteen active mem bers.
About twelve members can be counted upon to come each
Monday night when this committee is scheduledto meet.
ship is composed of actors, writers, producers, and technicians. The Case Committee consists of warm-hearted people who do not believe in dealing with applications impersonally.
62 members of this committee take pride in dealing with indivi duals and their problems.
The Case Committee divides into
groups of three or more and each group hears a certain number of the evening’s cases a3 presented by the individual case workers who have previously prepared the case for presenta tion.
The threesomes are scrambled so that at each there is
a meeting of different minds as frequently as possible.
cases are reviewed of which there were 2,440 in 1940,1 Decisions are made as to further help, possible solu tions to a problem and suggestions are made for social workers to act upon.
Referrals are also made to other agencies.
Committee usually approves aid for a case for a certain period of time after which the case is either renewed or closed by the decision of this committee. fore decisions are made.
There is much discussion be
Nothing is perfunctory and endless
problems are discussed until all hours of the night.
there is a doubt in the minds of the members of the committee as to what decision should be made or if there is a case that involves some technicality or policy, these cases are referred for decision to the Executive Committee.
Otherwise the re
commendations made by this committee are final.
members state that they have a feeling of humility in assum ing responsibility for their fellows but that they are not 1 Motion Picture Relief Fund of America, Inc., 17th Annual Report. 194Q-1941.
63 depressed by human misery.
Rather they are encouraged that
they are in a position to give assistance* ^ Specia-3. Qase Committee *
In 1938 the Executive Commit
tee appointed a Ways and Means Committee to make a survey of * the effects of unemployment conditions upon the actors and extras in the motion picture industry, with a view toward setting up a pension system for the motion picture industry. Mr. James Roosevelt, who was at that time a member of the Mo tion Picture Relief Fund, was largely responsible for this study made in April, 1939 by the Travelers Insurance Company with which he was associated.
The decision was that ordinary
insurance principles could not be applied to an industry with as high a rate of turnover.
The study suggested a plan how
ever according to which producers would charge against produc tion cost of pictures, a certain percentage which could be paid directly to the Motion Picture Relief Fund.
fund a stated amount would be set aside for the care of cer tain cases designated by the'Fhnd as pension cases.
plan was to be drawn up and handled as a Producers’ Associa tion idea.
On July 19, 1939, the Executive Committee formu-
'lated a permanent case committee to administer a Permanent Case Fund which was to be established from the contributions of various individual producers.
This Fund was to be used
solely for individuals superannuated in the industry.
August 16, 1939, the Executive Committee changed the name of the Permanent Case Committee to the Special Case Committee* The Special Case Committee has formulated all necessary rules and regulations for the proper administration of the Special Case Fund, rules for which have all been submitted to the Board of Trustees for their approval.
keeps a record of its meetings and makes monthly reports of its administration to the Board of Trustees.
Case Committee of nine members considers and passes on all cases active in the Fund as a result of superannuation in the motion picture industry.
At the present time this Committee
consists, as it did when it was first appointed by the Execu tive Committee, of prominent members of the industry.
represent various branches of the motion picture industry in cluding actors, writers and producers. this committee was Mr. James Roosevelt.
The first chairman of Not only has this
committee governed, all of the special cases falling within its jurisdiction but it has been responsible for the establish ing and maintaining of the Special Case Fund.
As stated above
this fund is made possible by .the contributions of the pro ducers connected with the major studios who feel it is their responsibility to provide means of support for those super annuated in the industry who have spent their major efforts in the building of this industry.
65 Home Eligibility Committee.
An Eligibility Committee
was appointed by'the Executive Committee after the appoint ment of the Case Committee in 1938 to draw up definite rules and regulations to clarify eligibility for the guidance of the Case Committee•
After its recommendations were made and
adopted the committee was dissolved*
Committee was appointed by the Executive Committee January 8, 1941 for the similar purpose to establish definite rules and regulations of eligibility for admission to the Motion Picture Country Home.
After the rules and regulations on eligibility
were adopted the committee remained in existence to govern future admission of applicants to the Country Home* Volunteer Christmas Committees*
Each year the Fund
provides a complete Christmas program for all of its applic ants and their families*
This program is made possible by
the work of two committees, the Christmas Card Committee and the Christmas Party Committee* The Christmas Card Committee was first appointed by the Executive Committee during Christmas season of 1938. Since then the Executive Committee has appointed a chairman of this committee each year who in turn has the privilege of selecting other members of the committee in order to plan for the sale of Christmas cards.
Proceeds of this sale pro
vide funds for all Christmas expenses.
These activities in-
66 elude turkey baskets for all of the families on the Fund rolls, dinners at restaurants, cash gifts and the Children's Party. The committee is very active during the holiday season.
makes contacts with all of the major studios for the purpose of selling Christmas cards to the employees of the motion picture industry.
Since this committee was first formed In
come from its efforts has been as followst 1938 .................. f3, 577,2s1 1939
1940 ............... . . 3,192.87s 1941 .................. Christmas Party Committee.
The Christmas Party Com
mittee was also set up by authority of the Executive Commit tee during the Christmas holiday season of 1938, with a chair man appointed by the Executive Committee. selects his own committee members.
This chairman then
Wives of prominent members
of the motion picture industry make up the greater part of this committee.
Its purpose is to arrange and provide the
Christmas party for the children of the Fund's beneficiaries
p. 14. p. 12.
^ Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc. Annual Report,1938-59 ^ Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc. Annual Report 1939-40 ------ .— *----------3 Anona Rybold, Auditing Department. ^
X iQ C .
c i t .
67 v/hich features entertainment, refreshment and toys.
are often made to this committee by interested members of the industry#
Although money obtained from the sale of the
Christmas cards is supposed also to-provide for the party,
this committee usually succeeds in obtaining enough donations so that it is able to fully finance the Christmas party for the children. .Last year $400*00 was donated for this party and $200#00 additional was received and set aside for the coming year’s party#-*Part of the Fund’s program is ordinarily carried on by committees#
Members selected from the motion picture industry
participate in the work of these committees.
There have been
numerous committees for various activities, most of which have been dissolved when their work was completed.
that have just been briefly described are those that may be considered the more permanent in function# There are two striking differences in the organization of the Motion Picture Relief Fund that differentiate it from the organization typical of other social agencies.
is the way in which lay participation and membership is or ganized#
Representation on the governing board and working
committees is taken from employers and employees from within
1 Information obtained from Interview with Executive Secretary, Wilma Bashor#
a particular industry —
the motion picture industry.
ticipation goes "beyond the purpose or mere representation and serving in an advisory capacity.
Through the Case Committee
members of the industry serving in this committee are actually empowered to carry on the work that would ordinarily be done by an additional employed member of the professional staff in most social agencies.
The Case Committee has the duty of
serving as an intake committee with sole responsibility for acting on all cases and making decisions that are final and binding.
One is struck forcibly with the amount of work and
responsibility assumed by the Case Committee which is after all made up of voluntary members who in other agencies would be called ttlaylf volunteers# The second striking difference is to be noted in the fact of active membership dues and their collection.
ship dues are fixed as a proportion of earned income; namely, one-half of one per cent of all salaries above one hundred dollars per week.
The fact that these contributions for
membership are practically compulsory for one of the largest single groups of employees.within the motion picture industry, actors, is unique and deviates from the usual method of collecting membership dues in social agencies.
CHAPTER IV THE PROGRAM AND POLICIES OP THE MOTION PICTURE RELIEF FUND, INC. The Motion Picture Relief Fund was organized from the beginning for charitable and benevolent purposes.
that it was founded by members of the motion picture industry to serve others in the industry makes it different from the usual charitable agency.
Through the years it has developed
a complete organization designed to facilitate operation. The work is carried on by four departments: licity, radio, and welfare.
The program combines philanthro
pic and mutual benefit features* The proceeding chapter dealt with the active particip ation of its 6,000 members in the work of the Motion Picture Relief Fund*
It describes the part performed by the Board
of Trustees, the Executive Committee, the Special Case Com mittees, the Home Eligibility Committee and the Volunteer Christmas Committees.
This chapter describes the professional
staff, and the structure and function of the various depart ments responsible for the work of the Motion Picture Relief Fund.
The chart on page 70 represents the present organiza
tion (1942) of the agency.
ORGANIZATION OF MOTION PICTURE RELIEF FUND, INC. (1941-1942)
ASSOCIATION MEMBERSHIP 6000
BOARD OF TRUSTEES 31 MEMBERS I EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE IS MEMBERS
I CASE COMMITTEE
SPECIAL CASE COMMITTEE
T HOME ELIGIBILITY COMMITTEE
1 VOLUNTEER CHRISTMAS c o mmittees
EXECUTIVE SECRETARY ASST. EXEC. SEC.
SOCIAL MEDICAL WORKERS STAFF
CLERICAL DIV. RECEPTIONIST STENOGRAPHER
PUBLIC RIL. |RAD10 DEPT DEPT.
ACCOUNTING- -DEPT ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE MOTION PICTURE RELIEF FUND, INC 6902 SANTA MONICA BLVD. HOLLYWOOD, CALIF.
CLIENTELE SERVED 8095
71 Fund Office Building.
The Fund Office Building locat
ed at 6902 Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood, California was especially built by the Fund in this location because it is readily accessible to Fund clients.
The building itself is
designed architecturally to meet the particular needs of the Motion Picture Relief Fund. but business like.
It is an attractive building
The interior is decorated to further in
the applicant a feeling of comfort and ease, and of confidence and privacy.
The offices do not resemble those of most
charitable organizations but have rather the appearance of modern and up-to-date business offices. The building is of one-story brick construction. large waiting room is attractively furnished.
A long corridor
running through the center of the building from the front to the rear exit divides it in two parts.
Along the east side
of the corridor are the several offices for the switchboard operator and receptionist, the stenographic room, auditing department, contribution and deduction office, records and file room, executive secretary1s office, the office of the assistant executive and the secretary and the architects work room*
Along the west side of the corridor are seven
pleasant individual private offices, one for each of the seven social workers.
ORGANIZATION OP DEPARTMENTS Auditing Department♦ with a staff of five.
The Auditing Department operates
These consist of an order clerk, cashier
assistant bookkeeper, subscription recorder and the chief auditor.
Each member of this department is responsible to the
chief auditor who in turn is responsible to the Executive Secretary.
This department keeps records and analysis of all
income and disbursements.
The subscription recorder works
exclusively with studio deduction lists and direct contribu tion data.
Ledgers are kept detailing weekly contributions.
In the ledger there Is a sheet kept for each subscriber, in cluding his name, occupation and date of his pledge.
week the Fund receives lists of all subscribed deductions and these are noted on each subscriber’s ledger sheet.
tion Picture Relief Fund maintains master lists with the names and positions of the subscribers and provides each studio with a copy.
Cancellations and additions are made on
these master lists each month. Keeping up these ledgers and master lists occupies the full-time of one person.
In addition the recorder goes to
the studios to keep donors in close personal touch with the Fund.
The Executive Secretary uses the recorder as a contact
person to secure the studios’ cooperation for publicity pur poses.
The recorder has charge of a file containing the
73 signed pledge cards sent into the Fond Office by the guilds, studios or from whatever source the subscriber obtained this card.
To date there are approximately six thousand signed
pledges of which about four thousand are currently active. This means that approximately four thousand employees of the motion picture industry are contributing one-half of one per cent of their weekly earnings or making direct contributions. There are several sources through which pledge cards may be signed.
Every studio payroll office is equipped with
a supply by the Motion Picture Relief Fund as well as each of the guilds within the motion picture industry.
the Motion Picture Relief Fund conducts campaigns for new subscribers.
In this way letters are sent to persons possibly
interested in subscribing enclosing the necessary pledge card to be signed and returned. Publicity department.
Publicity for the Fund is handled
by representatives of a publicity office. carries a small weekly salary.
The publicity man meets with
the Executive Committee and plants in the local newspapers and trade journals any publicity of interest to the general public or to the industry.
If it is of interest to the latter
only It is omitted in the newspapers.
This department is
felt advisable for purpose of contact In order to keep the industry acquainted with the work of the Fund and to keep
74 the workers, producers and executives aware of the organiza tion# One employee already mentioned in the discussion of the Auditing Department keeps full reports and complete files on the Fund contributors and non-contributors.
She also con
fers with studio paymasters and studio contact men.
latter are appointed by the Executive Committee to serve as go-betweens for the office and the studio.
hold key positions in the studio, have authority and popular ity.
Approximately once or twice a year they are asked to
meet with the Executive Committee*
They also assist in sign
ing up non-contributors and plan publicity throughout the studio.
Publicity in this connection means distribution of
pamphlets, letters, and leaflets which the. Fund sends out from time to time.
The Publicity Department is responsible
to the Executive Committee* Even though the Fund maintains a Publicity Department the Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee still re sume a great deal of responsibility for contacts with the employees and producers of the industry.
This is felt advis
able inasmuch as their names and personalities often times have a greater influence in selling the idea of the Fund than a paid publicity man who is unknown to the industry. Radio department*
The Radio Department maintains its
75 office in Beverly Hills with, three salaried employees— the manager, assistant, and secretary.
The Manager represents
the Fund in dealing with the sponsor of the weekly program, Gulf Oil Compnay requests stars to take part in programs; arranges rehrearsals, and sees that the program goes on as per schedule.
All talent provided for this program is given
gratis by motion picture stars.
Out of the sum received from
this program are paid the salaries of the employees in the Radio Department.
The remainder is placed in the Building
and Radio Fund for a home for the aged and indigent* The Radio Department is directly responsible to a Radio Committee made up of members from the Executive Commit tee#
The manager of the Radio Department must report weekly
on the radio program to the Executive Committee.
Department is directly responsible to the Executive Secretary through the Auditing Department for all financial matters. Welfare Department#
The welfare department is organ
ized to carry out a complete social welfare program.
this department is identified with the national and state professional organizations for social welfare is evident in the fact that since 1926 the organization has held a member ship in the California Conference of Social Work.
of the social workers within this department are members of the American Association for Social Workers#
76 DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE PROFESSIONAL STAFF Executive Secretary*
The Executive Secretary is
directly responsible to the Executive Committee, for t h e ad ministration and supervision of the four departments of the Motion Picture Relief Fund,
Besides administering the various
departments this officer also must supervise case work in the Welfare Department*
In this capacity the Executive Is known
as the director of social welfare*
Although the Case Commit
tee has almost complete power over acceptance, rejection and case work decisions, the Executive Secretary may take cases directly before the Executive Committee if It Is felt that the Case Committee’s decisions and recommendations should not be followed*
This is frequently done by the Executive Secre
tary in doubtful cases* The position of the Executive Secretary requires know ledge and experience in the administration of a social agency in which the membership takes an active part, as well as the ability to direct and supervise case work activities of the social workers*
It,is a position that demands sympathetic
understanding of the peculiar problems presented by the Fund’s applicants resulting from an association with the motion picture industry. The employed staff of the welfare department has grown until it now numbers eighteen.
There are seven social workers
77 chosen upon the basis of personality, training and particular adaptability to working with motion picture people.
•university graduates, three of whom hold certificates of social work; one is a trained medical and social case worker, and one is a psychologist.
The social workers are individually
responsible to the Executive Secretary as the Director of Social Welfare.
They are also responsible to the Case Commit
tee which passes on all cases. Two receptionists, five stenographers and one switch board operator comprise the office staff.
Secretary also serves as the Director of Social Welfare.
has an Assistant Executive Secretary as well as a Secretary who augment the services in this department. Since its early history the Fund has believed in handl ing its cases individually.
The Executive Committee long ago
agreed that persons coming to the Fund's attention should be dealt with according to individual merit.
Committee further has been of the opinion that individual attention and interest in the case work of this agency should be of important concern tp the trustees. Social work practices were really accepted and put in to effect in 1926 when the Executive Committee decided to follow principles of relief as practiced by welfare organiza tions.
When the Executive Committee decided in November,
1926 to engage a trained social worker, it was in the nature
78 of an experiment.
Development warranted continuing and in
creasing this type of service.
It was found that overhead
expenses were saved by improved investigation and further a more constructive service to Fund clients was afforded. SOCIAL SERVICE PROGRAM Eligibility for Assistance.
At the first meeting of
the founders eligibility for assistance through the Fund was discussed.
Although there were never any specific require
ments outlined as such there was a general understanding of the meaning of eligibility.
Article 8 of the Articles of
Incorporation of the organization defined any person as eligible who was connected with the motion picture industry for a period of three years.^
The term ,fmotion picture pro
fession” was not clearly defined in the By-Laws; however those who had been responsible for the founding of this or ganization felt that the Board could act as a safeguard in refusing relief to those persons it did not consider quali fied to receive aid.
In the early years there was always the
question of who was included in the motion picture profession. For example, Miss Mary Pickford, who was among the Incorpora-
Article VIII, Articles of Incorporation of the Motion Picture Relief Fund of America, Inc. See Second Annual Report, 1926. p. 27.
79 tors, thought it would he unfair to give relief to theatre workers such as cashiers and ushers as they would outnumber those who were engaged in making pictures in the industry. As funds were rather limited at first it was necessary to conserve finances, and the Fund aided only those members of the industry ufoom they considered to be the most urgently in need.
This included cases of hospitalization, illness and
Cases of need due to unemployment alone had to be
disregarded except when involving aged or needy, or in the event that imminent starvation or housing was an urgent pro blem.
Although the By-Laws required a period of three years
continuous work in the industry as qualification for relief, Fund records reveal that in the early years beneficiaries included those whose experience was not entirely limited to films.
The Executive Committee made eligibility requirements
very flexible oUt of sympathy for those of professional back ground.
If such persons were considered eligible and accepted
by the Actor*s Fund or the National Vaudeville Artists, they were referred to these organizations.
In qualifying for re
lief from the Motion Picture Relief Fund creed, race or color had no bearing, and no branch of the motion picture industry was excepted If the three year’s employment in films require ment was met.
In 1932 the Executive Committee attempted to
further define the policy of eligibility for aid from the Fund
80 "by passing the following motion:^ 1.
That no person is to receive aid unless they can verify a record of earnings of a minimum of $350*00 per annum for the last three years. Any deviation from this rule in extenuative circum stances must "be approved by the Executive Com mittee*^
No aid is to be given to mechanical or trades people other than artists - (extras), directors, assistant directors, unit managers, cameramen*
Information with reference to the $350.00 per annum earnings is to be obtained through Central Casting Corporation, and a written clearance is to be given by them for all cases accepted by the Relief Fund. This, of course, applies only to extras.
All cases now being taken care of which do not come within the above qualifications are to be closed out immediately.
No advances of any character whatsoever, for rents or public utilities, are to be made with out the approval of the Executive Committee.
No foodstuffs are to be distributed unless the person comes within the above stated qualifications.
**■ Motion Picture Branch of Actor’s Fund and Motion Picture Relief Fund. Minutes - Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc. June 1927 - May 1^38. Executive Committee Meeting. ‘ February 5, 1932. P
* At the present time an applicant to be eligible for assistance must have earned at least $500 per annum for a three-year period. This is an accepted ruling that has never been set down by the Executive Committee. It was a general agreement reached at the time the Fund was reorganized in 1938. At that time a study was made of employment conditions within the motion picture industry. It was disclosed by the Central Casting Corporation that the average yearly earnings for extras was $500. As extras comprised the greater propor tion of relief applicants, this amount was decided upon as the minimum earnings for eligibility. (Information secured from Wilma Bashor, Executive Secretary, Motion Picture Relief Fund, March, 1942.)
81 The intake policy of the Motion Picture Relief Fund was defined by a resolution passed at the Executive Committee meeting January 31, 1933*
This resolution defined the pur
poses and policies of the Fund, stating it had become necessary and advisable for the intelligent disbursing of the Funds of the Motion Picture Relief Fund clearly to classify those to be aided and assisted. The following classifications were to be considered in accepting applicants for assistance: 1.
To care for illness — health*
To lend financial aid for food, shelter, and clothing to those persons whose work in pictures has been such as to entitle them definitely to such aid and who are now, through no fault of their own, unemployed. Such aid to be distributed. a. b. e* d.
To To To To
preservation of life and
married couples with small children. a woman with dependents* married couples without families, single men and single women.
To lend such aid in unusual and extraordinary cases as may be deemed advisable when voted upon by the Executive Committee.
There appeared to be need for still more definite eligibility rules for use by the front office and the case committee.
In 1939 an eligibility committee was appointed.
^ Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc. Minutes, June 1927 May 1938. 148th Executive Committee Meeting, January 31, 1933.
82 It submitted the following recommendations which were finally adopted and incorporated as rules of eligibility: 1* The Committee wishes to make a part of the re commendation the statement that the Motion Picture Re lief Fund differentiates between those persons who are eligible for relief by reason of having been actually and definitely a part of the motion picture profession and, on the other hand, those persons whose infrequent activity in the profession makes them ineligible for relief from the Fund although they are qualified for aid from public agencies. In other words, the Commit tee urges that the principles enunciated in the Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws whereby the benefits of the Fund are limited to persons engaged in the motion pic ture profession, be clarified; that measurements be set up whereby the decision as to whether an applicant can be considered as having earned his living by work in the motion picture business can be more easily establish ed. 2. If an actor who has contributed substantially to the prestige of the motion picture profession shall absent himself from the profession for a period of not more than five years and who during that absence shall have been active on the speaking stage, he shall not by that absence disqualify himself from receiving aid from the Fund. If he has been absent on the stage for more than five years eligibility shall be subject to the dis cretion of the Executive Committee. 3. Absence from the pictures for a period of five years or more shall disqualify an actor, writer, direc tor, or technician for relief from the Motion Picture Relief Fund who has left the picture business to engage in some other business unrelated to the production of motion pictures. 4. Those persons who by reason of the fact that they have not been able to obtain employment over a period of five years have automatically divorced them selves from the industry. If, however, such automatic divorcement was due to age, they shall be considered eligible within the discretion of the Trustees or Executive Committee. 5. The casesof those persons who have contributed substantially to the profession in motion pictures,
83 who have married and for a period of five years or more liave divorced themselves entirely from pictures, shall be submitted to the discretion of the Executive Commit tee purely upon their merits. 6 . Bona fide ’‘extras” are deemed to be a necessary class in the. production of motion pictures and entitled to the designation "engaged in the production of motion pictures"* 7. In this connection, the Committee called atten tion to a report on the Ways and Means Committee of the Fund on September 29, 1938, and the statement by Mr. Campbell MacCullochs The average employment per extra in 1937 was 18 days, and the average wage $10.30 a day; only 620 persons earned as much as $1,000, 1,818 earned as much as $500, and the largest amount earned was $3,200. The balance of several thousand extras earned less than $200 a year, only 20 per cent of those registered as extras can really be classified as actors and possibly a hundred on the books were previous stars and featured players.1 As under the definition of the Articles of Incorpora tion the extras may not be considered as eligible, therefore the Committee on Eligibility recommended that the Executive Committee in the exercise of its discretion declare extras as qualified for assistance from the Fund. In this connection the Executive Committee also accepted the recommendation of the Committee on Eligibility regarding the broader definition of the term "motion picture profession11, Article VIII of the Articles of Incorporation.
Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc. Minutes from June 1, Executive Committee. Meeting October 11, 1939, p. 2.
84 The term f,motion picture profession11 used in these Articles shall he held to include all persons earning their livelihood solely by acting, directing or writing in or for motion pictures, intended for public screen exhibition; as well as any and all persons wholly de pendent upon the production of motion pictures intended for public screen exhibition for their livelihood and who shall have been so engaged exclusively for at least three consecutive years; and also all other persons in any way connected with the production of motion pictures as in the sole and unrestricted discretion and judgment of the Board of Trustees, shall entitle them to designa tion as being engaged in the production of motion pictures.1 The Committee on Eligibility considered this definition broad enough to cover any and all specific classifications set out in their recommendations. 8 . The Committee further recommends for the con sideration of the Executive Committee an interpreta tion of the Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws, as followst That since extra players are outside of the groups specifically mentioned in the Articles of Incorpor ation, and are included therefore among those classes which can be dealt with under 1the sole and unres tricted discretion of the Executive Committee’, no extra player shall be eligible for relief regardless of the preceding recommendations, unless he shall have been employed in the production of motion pictures for five years.11 9. It is recommended that the Committee take into consideration whether an applicant for relief who has received more than $100 a week has contributed onehalf of one per cent of salary during the period following a date to be decided upon, and that such contribution or lack of contribution have a bearing
^ Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc. Minutes from June 1, 1958. Executive Committee, October 11, 1939.
85 on the Committeefs decision on eligibility; that on and after a certain date any person who has no con tributed to the Motion Picture Relief Fund shall not be considered eligible for aid. 10. Technical Professions: Technicians shall be held to include those persons engaged in the techni cal branches necessary in the production of motion pictures, such as: Sound men, Cameramen, Cutters, Art Directors, Script clerks, Executives, Producers, Business managers, Unit managers, Department heads, Make-up men (not hair-dressers), Gaffers (not other electricians), Miniature and special effects (employers whose work is unique to motion picture business). 11. Eligibility in all classes not enumerated shall be determined on the individual merits of the case -- length of service and other factors — and shall be submitted to the discretion of the Executive Committee. 12. Applications for relief by persons clearly eligible shall be accepted on a temporary basis of ten weeks, or such lesser time as the situation of the applicant demands.1 Responsibility of the Social Worker.
Workers have the responsibility for full care of all cases assigned to them.
They carry through the investigation,
carefully prepare the cases for presentation to the Case Com mittee and present them orally to this committee at the regular weekly meetings.
The Case Committee then decides
what plan of action shall be taken and its recommendations
Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc. Meeting July 31, 1959.
86 must be followed by the case worker.
It Is also the respon
sibility of the Executive Secretary to see that the recommend ations of the Case Committee are followed through by the in dividual case workers.
She niay make decisions on new cases
that come into the office between the times that the Case Committee and the Executive Committee are not convening*
case worker does not have the power to decide upon the length of time that a case should be aided butthe responsibility for this rests with the Case Committee.
It is also the duty
of the social worker to present renewals and closings to the Case Committee for final decision. Procedure of Handling Cases.
The following is the pro
cedure of handling a case as it comes to the Motion Picture Relief Fund Office:
Two workers a day are required in the
field and on Mondays and Fridays there are three workers. The balance of the workers remain In the office to do their routine and office work. duty in the office.
One person is always on emergency
That person takes the first interview
and then becomes.the case worker for the family and follows through on all the interviews taken during her period of duty* Each day there I s a
worker in the office.
The worker on duty takes the cases she has interviewed to the Executive Secretary for an immediate decision.
Secretary has the authority to grant any emergency aid neces-
87 sary on a case pending presentation to the Case Committee. The following Monday, the regular meeting day, the case is presented to the Case Committee by the social worker who has been responsible for it.
If in the interim there is some
question due to an excessive budget or dire emergency the Executive Secretary immediately consults at least three mem bers of the Executive Committee for a decision. The social workers must give extra time for the pre sentation of these cases at the weekly Case Committee meet ings held at the Fund Offices.
In 1938 the Executive Commit
tee decided to reimburse the workers for overtime necessary in presenting cases after regular working hours.
they have received the sum of two dollars for each evening meeting for this additional work.
This fee is considered
"dinner money"♦ Preparation of Budget.
It is the responsibility of the
social worker to prepare a budget for the individual or family*s need.
This is done upon the basis of what is dis
closed by his investigation and the requests made by the appli cants.
These tentative budgets are presented to the Case
Committee which makes the final decision as to what the allow ance should be.
As far as budgets are concerned there is no
set pattern for aid.
The social worker must adhere to the
Red Cross food budget for maintaing and insuring health but
88 it is the desire of the Executive Committee, as well as the Case Committee, that all cases be handled on their individual merits.
There is no minimum or maximum below or above which
these committees may decide to go.
Whatever is felt as a need
for a particular case is given without limitation.
ance is given on a cash basis and issued to clients in the form of weekly checks. In using the Red Cross food budgets the social worker may add to or subtract from them in accordance with what she and the client agree is the need.
Pregnancy and diabetic
condition require special diets which are allowed whenever the need arises. In considering aid for a family or an individual, the practice is to allow in the budget all items in accordance with the standard of living of that individual or family. Even such allowances as hair cuts, manicures and other per sonal vanities may be allowed.
This of course would be more
usual to the talent group of applicants as these luxuries are considered necessary in keeping those in the talent group fit for. reemployment.
A laborer in the motion picture industry
finding it necessary to apply for assistance from the Fund would probably not be given the same standard of aid as would be allowed to a person who is an actor or an actress.
felt that their standards of living are very different and if their needs were budgeted on the very same basis neither would
89 be happy.
No effort is made on the part of the welfare de
partment either to lower or elevate an individual applicant’s standard of living. Medical Care.
The medical program is an important part
of the work of the welfare department.
The Fund maintains
two doctors on its staff; one is the chief of the medical staff and the other is the chief’s assistant.
The chief is
an internal specialist, as well as a physician and surgeon. These two doctors are paid a retaining fee by the Fund on a flat salary basis. and private practice.
They have their own private offices They maintain their own office rental
but the Fund pays for all drugs, medicines, and medical appliances needed by patients who are referred. hospitalization costs are met by the Fund.
The chief and his
assistant perform all operations without additional cost unless they are too busy and cannot handle all of them or an outside specialist must be called in.
Whenever a doctor must
be called as a consultant he is paid a fee based on the sche dule of rates of the California Industrial Compensation. has been a practice since 1932.
In addition to the services
of the doctor private nurses and attendants are employed for patients whenever needed. Hospitalization.
As for hospitalization, use is made
of all hospitals and sanitaria within the community.
90 its origin the Fund has had an agreement with hospitals and sanitaria which has given the Fund a special rate for its clients*
Wards in hospitals are used as much as possible
although frequently private rooms are provided for patients* For years the Fund has had an agreement as to concession and rates for the use of its patients with the Hollywood Hospital, Hospital of the Good Samaritan, Sylvan Lodge Hospital and Windsor Hospital*
Since 1940 the Fund has used the Cedars of
Lebanon Hospital in which it has ten beds in perpetuity pur chased with the gift of $100,000 received from the Will Rogers Memorial Commission.
This gift meant a saving of from fifteen
to eighteen thousand dollars yearly.^ Since the early days of the Fund*s inception there has been an extensive program of medical and sanitarium care for tubercular and mental patients.
Before mental patients were
institutionalized in State Hospitals all possible care was given them in the hope that they would recover*
alization has always been used only as a last resort after the psychiatrist gave up hope of satisfactory recovery with out such treatment*
■** Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc* 17th Annual Report, 1940-1941.
91 Dental Care.
The dental program is equally as compre
hensive as the medical.
Whatever professional service is
found necessary for the patient1s comfort, appearance and rehabilitation, is given.
Extensive mouth work is arranged
for especially in cases where there is every possibility that the individual will be immediately reemployed if certain denture work is done.
Not infrequently the Fund spends as
much as several hundred dollars on dental work for a single patient# Maternity Care*
Maternity cases for eligible clients
are also accepted by the Fund.
Since 1938 the Fund has assum
ed responsibility for hospitalization expenses in maternity cases# The purpose of the medical division within the welfare department is to restore the patient to health so he may be come actively employed again. also accepted for care.
However, chronic cases are
As far as the levels of outgo are
concerned cases are accepted either on a short or long time basis as may be required.
As much time, money and service
are spent upon an individual as may be necessary to rehabili tate him physically and mentally#
Everything centers around
the satisfactory mental and physical recover of the patient. The scope of the services provided for Fund clients by the welfare department, aside from the medical, dental and
hospitalization provisions, is broad and varied*
It is not
amiss to say that almost anything can be done by this depart ment that appears to either the Executive or Case Committees as an individual need of some particular client* Since the early days of the Fund medical care, loans, unemployment assistance, transportation costs, wardrobe ser vice and burials have been provided* Loans* Since its inception the Motion Picture Relief Fund has given
loans as a
part of its service.
been allowed for every purpose from paying interest on mort gages to lending money for hair dyes. are never given indiscriminately.
These loans however
In each case careful In
quiry is made as to the genuine need for the loan, the pur pose Intended, and just how It may be of real assistance to the Individual making the request.
It has been customary for
the Fund to accept as collateral whatever security the indi vidual asking the loan would give.
Oftentimes this security
would consist of an interest in an estate, jewelry, or other personal valuables. too seriously.
The matter of security was never taken
Payments on loans were never forced.
Fund has never considered Its loans as being any different from the them.
other assistance given in its actual accounting of
From time to time the Executive Committee has discussed
the question of loans but there has never been a definite
93 policy formulated*
In 1930 the Executive Committee discussed
the possibility of establishing a separate loan fund of $25,000 and again in 1931 a fund of $100,000 was proposed* It was hoped that by such a loan fund the many coming to the Fund too proud to ask for outright assistance could be saved embarrassment.
This would have been a fund to tide such
people over their moment of stress*
The loans would have been
only temporary because probably those persons asking for them would rapidly re-establish themselves.
It never had been
possible to give very large amounts as loans from the general fund and it was felt that a special fund would allow loans of considerable size if necessary.^
No action was taken,
however, to set up a separate loan fund. The whole policy on the matter of loans is rather an elastic one.
It usually depends upon the individual circum
stances and the nature of the request.
At one time the matter
of setting an interest rate for loans at from one to two per cent was considered by the Executive Committee in order to make such transactions legal.
Another time there was dis
cussion about giving loans on the basis adopted by the Jewish
^ Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc., Minutes Executive Committee Meeting, November 4, 1930 and September 1, 1931.
94 Loan Committee; that is, amounts up to $200 would be loaned at very small rates of interest* in this matter.
No action was ever taken
In the early 1930fs the Executive Committee
agreed it would be constructive and charitable in the Fund's relief work to arrange a special fund for lending money to certain members in the Industry who were in need and could either furnish collateral for the loan or note endorsements of recognized and approve merit.
Itwas felt that i f'such
fund could be established it would be handled as carefully and with the same circumspection as is done by banks and other meritorious agencies.
Prom inception of the Motion Picture
Relief Fund until December 31, 1939 loans totaling $18,969.76 were made.
The Fund received in payment on these loans a sum
of $703.85, leaving an unpaid balance of $18,265.91. ment of loans hasnever been forced. been kept for all loans Issued until
An account had always record work in this
matter was discontinued August 31, 1940 as the attitude grew that the fund should not press repayment of loans.
30, 1940 the Fund had issued notes bearing one per cent in terest (for purpose of making notes legal) amounting to $2,716.08.
A total of $557.50 was received in payment of in
terest on these notes.
When the Fund decided not to press
for repayment of loans the notes were no longer valid.^
Figures supplied by Anona Rybold, Auditor, Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc., April 15, 1942.
95 Unemployment Assistance#
Unemployment assistance is
given to applicants of the Fund for temporary unemployment due to illness, accident or lack of work.
These are usually
short-time eases and such aid may last from only a few days to a period of several weeks.
In cases where individuals re
ceive Workmen’s Compensation or Unemployment Insurance these "benefits may be supplemented by the Fund in order more satis factorily to meet the normal budgetary needs of these people. Relief for unemployment was given to such an extent in the early years of the Fund’s existence that the Executive Committee at one time discussed the advisability of maintain ing a separate employment agency for these beneficiaries.
was believed that such an agency would serve the purpose of finding work for those clients who had been physically re habilitated.^Relief giving due to unemployment has always taken a great share of the Fund’s resources.
From time to time when
the problem of unemployment became too serious, causing an undue drain upon the organization’s funds, curtailment of these cases ensued.
For example, in 1931 it was not possible
for the Fund even to attempt to cope with the exigencies in curred by the unemployment situation within the motion picture
Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc. Minutes Executive Committee Meeting. June 3, 1930.
Many of the appeals for aid during 1929 and 1930
came from the persons whose needs were due solely to the lack of employment.
Statistics from the Central Casting Corpora
tion indicated that more than 20,000 extras and actors were out of work each day.
It was found that many film employees
were unemployable in other lines of work in spite of avail able opportunities.
They were either untrained or unsuited
to any other type of work.
Still more perplexing was the
number of aspirants who felt a career in films had been des tined for them.
Years of unsuccessful professional achieve
ment failed to discourage them — held the masses.
the lure of professionalism
They failed to recognize their failure and
were unwilling to realize they could be only one of the mob. In 1930-1931 the Central Casting Corporation reported that of the 17,000 extras registered, only an average of less than 800 received daily placement. the same 800 each day.^ grievously as the extras.
These were not necessarily
The actors were affected just as The Fund felt it could not assume
this entire burden because there were thousands who refused to look for employment elsewhere believing that In spite of
^ Motion Picture Relief Fund of America, Inc. tary’s Report, Annual Report 1929-1930, p. 17. 2
Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc. June 50, 1951, p. 3.
97 their experience to the contrary they would eventually achieve a career in motion pictures.
Therefore in 1930 the Fund de
creed that only the most obviously eligible could be aided. Although in times of stress when unemployment was greatest the Fund attempted to limit acceptance,of cases to only the most urgent, it was not' possible to reject all bor derline cases.
They continued to fill the roles of those
aided by the Fund until finally in 1932 the Executive Commit tee decided upon a limit of three months* aid to cases of ■un employment.
By that time, if the family had not been success
fully re-established, the case was referred to another agency. The Fund’s finances were in a particularly precarious condi tion at this time, so that funds had to be limited for emer gencies only.*** The same situation existed during the ensuing years until 1935, when leadership in the Fund was taken over by the Screen Actors* Guild and it was completely reorganized.
nancial resources were expanded and stabilized to a much greater extent than ever before. during this period was a wide one.
The problem of unemployment Under the circumstances
the Fund could only hope to cope with the problem on an emer gency and temporary basis.
Today, however, cases due strictly
Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc. Minutes Executive Committee Meeting. 136th Executive Committee Meeting, April 5, 1932.
98 to unemployment, providing certain eligibility requirements are met, are given the same consideration for assistance as any other type case.
The following figures for the year 1941
are illustrative of the extent of this service Number Aided Actors Extras Directors Cameramen Writers Producers Technicians Laborers Office Workers Miscellaneous Total
572 832 53 42 86 13 62 122 39 95 1,916
Percentage of Number Aided 29.85 43.42 2.76 2.20 4.50 .70 3.23 6.36 2.03 4.95 100*00
Under the classification of "actors1* 428 were actors and 144 were actresses.
Of the directors 15 were assistant
directors and 38 were directors.
Of the technicians 6 were
art directors, 17 editors and cutters, 6 laboratory techni cians, 6 miniature makers, 3 projectionists, 5 set dressers, 5 sound technicians, 3 special effects, and 11 technical
Actors have always comprised the largest single group receiving assistance from the Motion Picture Relief Fund. In 1934 actors represented 67 per cent of the clientele while in 1935 and 1936 these were 55.3 per cent and 68.7 per cent respectively.
Of* the laborers 7. were carpenters, 3 were in the
construction department, 36 were electricians, 17 grips, 24 laborers, 4 nursery men; 6 painters, 2 plasterers, 23 propertymen.
Of the office workers 3 were accountants, 5 casting
directors, 4 clerks, 3 office management, 1 payroll, 18 sec retaries, 4 telephone operators, and 1 timekeeper.
fied as miscellaneous 6 were cartoonists, 2 hairdressers, 6 miscellaneous, 7 musicians, 6 musical arrangers, 2 musical directors, 3 policemen, 10 publicity, 6 readers, 4 script clerks, 4 singers, 6 transportation department, 4 unit mana gers, 8 wardrobe, 11 watchmen.^ Transportation Service.
Transportation is another
form of service given by the Fund.
Cases may be accepted
for transportation of clients to friends or relatives or for returning home.
This type of aid was very commonly given in
the 1920*s and 1930*s.
Even now applicants are frequently
accepted for transportation costs only. Wardrobe Service.
Aiding applicants with their ward
robes is another service given by this department.
the very early years the Fund considered this a legitimate
Information obtained fron Anona Rybold, Chief Auditor, Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc. March, 1942.
100 request on the part of the applicants.
Oftentimes if indi
viduals failed to pay their rent on time landlords would make them vacate and then hold their trunks of clothing and per sonal belongings in lieu of payment of rent. was done very unfairly to the. client.
The Fund then would
give temporary assistance either in helping to provide a new wardrobe or in assisting the client to regain possession of his belongings.
Occasionally individuals would call at the
office for assistance with wardrobes as they might have pawn ed certain articles of clothing if they found themselves in straitened conditions.
The Fund helped such clients to get
their clothes back from pawn shops.
Needless to say an
actor’s wardrobe is considered his tool and equipment for work* In the early years there were many attempts to operate a clothing exchange for the purpose of furnishing costumes and wearing apparel at small margin of profit or by donation. In 1930 a salvage shop was established and the Executive Committee authorized it to operate for a period of six months at a cost not to exceed $>6,000.
The expenses were financed
by one of the trustees personally.
The purpose was to give
needed clothing to applicants and also to permit extras need ing clothing to buy economically. At the present time the welfare department accepts
101 clothing donated from private a room
at the Fund Office and distributed to clients
a request for clothing*
The Fund does not renovate or re
condition any of the clothing received but instead asks the client to do this and then pays the bill whatever it may be. In addition, if an individual needs some article or piece of clothing not to be found in the wardrobe room, he is given permission to shop for his needs and the bill is paid for by the Fund. Funeral and Burial Services.
Section 21 of the By-
Laws states, On the death, in destitute circumstances, of a person connected with the production of motion pic tures, the Board of Trustees or Executive Committee may defray the expenses of his or her burial, and may give assistance to his or her family.^* Funeral and burial services have been provided for des titute members of the industry since the Fund first came into existence.
Frequently the deceased were buried at the expense
of the Fund even though they had been In the industry for a comparatively short time.
Later however It was customary to
verify the deceased’s eligibility for aid from the Fund.
^ Amended By-Laws of the Motion Picture Relief Fund of America, Inc., p. 6.
102 There has been a steady increase of cases handled by the Fund since 1938.
Table III shows the volume of work
carried on by the Motion Picture Relief Fund including total case load and types of services given from 1938 through 1941* The total case load increased from 5,283 in 1938 to 8,108 in 1941.
A study of this table bears out the statement that
unemployment assistance to Fund applicants is numerically the largest service.
The number of unemployed aided has re
mained rather constant, increasing from 2,459 in 1938 to 2,740 in 1941. CARE FOR THE AGED Home for the Aged*
From the Fundfs inception it was
the ambition of the officers and members to build a home for the aged and indigent within the industry. to be an essential need.
It was believed
Such a home would not only effect
an economy but at the same time extent greater service and comfort to many of the beneficiaries.
The dream of the first
officers visualized a home made up of unit cottages, adminis tration buildings, sanitarium and hospital quarters located on at least a twenty-five acre ground site, "possessiong both scenic and salubrious qualities.”^
-*■ Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc., Folder: General, Including Articles of Incorporation, ,fBuilding Fund History.tt
TABLE III TOTAL CASE LOAD AND TYPES OF SERVICE FROM 1938 THROUGH 1941
Medical Total tCase Load , Cases
Medical and Maintenance * > Unemployment Emergency
* Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc.., Annual Report, 1940 fives total case load figures: 8,095. Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc., Folder, Monthly Case Reports, from which the above figures were taken gives total case load figure for year 1940: 8,295.
104 A capital account called the Building Fund was imme diately established for this purpose*
Through the efforts of
Miss Mary Pickford, chairman, and her membership committee a campaign for life memberships to be used for the Building Fund was started in 1925*
The 91 life memberships at $250 each
obtained immediately after the Fund* s incorporation opened the account.
In addition the sum of a little over eight
thousand dollars was applied to this account, from the Actor’s Fund Receipts from the Speedway Benefit held June, 1921* Through the years the Executive Committee of the Fund has sought to purchase land upon which to build.
to time both the Secretary and Committee members reported on how other homes for the aged and indigent operated.
views were held with the Community Chest of Los Angeles and the State Department of Social Welfare concerning operation of such homes.
As a result a plan including unit cottages,
administration buildings, and an infirmary were considered as the most practicable and satisfactory.
It was the intention
of the Trustees to have hospital and sanitarium units in con junction with a home for the aged in order to reduce the tremendous expense of hospital and sanitarium care as provided in the past* In August of 19.26 the problem of care for the aged and infirm in the motion picture profession became more acute and a committee was appointed by the President to rent a temporary
105 building to be used as the home.
But suitable quarters were
not available and it was decided that the Fund must purchase land upon which to build.
The Board of Trustees however felt
that such a building plan was not feasible until an endowment of at least a million dollars could be obtained.
For the pur
pose of increasing the Building Fund already started a special honorary committee actively pursued the plan of selling life memberships and securing donations which were deposited in this account. At the suggestion of the Fundfs 3L,egal Counsel the Building Fund was incorporated and maintained as a separate and subsidiary branch of the Fundfs activities in order to handle the proposed home for the aged and indigent.
way all question of conflict with the Community Chest rules and regulations was avoided*
It was generally agreed that pro
ceeds accruing to the Building Fund should not be drawn upon for general relief and on June 9, 1927, the Executive Commit tee passed the following resolution:: Resolved that it is the sense of the Executive Committee that the Fund held under the designation flBuilding Fund”, shall be considered as a trust fund for the specific purpose of building a home, and shall not be confused with, or considered as any part of, the funds available for relief work.l
^ Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc. Minutes, Executive Committee Meeting, June 1927 to May 1958. Sixty-ninth Execu tive Committee Meeting, June 9, 1927.
106 Prom 1925 through 1937 the Building Fund grew steadily from donations, life memberships, bank interest as well as interest on loans.
Since 1938 the Building Fund has grown
rapidly due to the receipts from the Screen Guild Radio Pro gram,
In that year a well-known industry in Los Angeles
approached Miss Pickford to interest her in a radio program to be known as the Motion Picture Relief Fund Hour.
was that prominent picture professionals were to donate their time.
It was believed that if the Screen Actors* Guild and
the producers would cooperate through the Motion Picture Re lief Fund approximately $10,000 a week could be realized for the Fund* Fund.
This money was to be deposited in the Building
The following table illustrates the steady growth of
this Fund since 1925*
1929-1930 . . . . . . . . . . .
1930-1931 . ..................
1 Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc., Annual Reports 1925-1940. ----
:107 1933 .................... .. . * $101,521*13 1935
........ .. . .
103,802*65 107,087.20 114,797.71 302,055.43
In December, 1940 the Building and Radio Funds were combined into one account. By 1941 the Building Fund had been swelled to $800,000, of which three-quarters of a million dollars is invested in United States Bonds.
Actors, writers and other members of
the industry have given freely of their talent and their time to make this program possible. The dream of the officers of the Fund was realized, in 1941 when the Board of Trustees finally selected and pur chased a suitable 41-acre site in the San Fernando Valley. It is a beautiful piece of land near Calabasas at Ventura Boulevard and Mulholland Highway, surrounded by hills com pletely covered by citrus, walnut and oak trees.
William Pereira of Paramount Pictures volunteered his services in planning the home. his guidance.
This project is now proceeding under
Construction is well under way.
The plan pro
vides for a series of bungalows surrounding a main administra
^ Motion Picture Relief Fund of America, Inc., 17th Annual Report. 1940-1941.
108 tive unit, dining room, lounge, library and kitchen* bungalows will be built in two, four and six units.
features of this home were selected after months of surveying other such homes by the Fund’s Home Building Committee* Many of the units are being dedicated in honor of certain prominent individuals who have generously made con tributions
for this purpose.
On his last birthdayPresident
Roosevelt presented his campaign
hat to the Fund* This was
auctioned for $3,200 and the sum used to endow a bungalow to be named for the President.
Douglas Fairbanks Sr. left a
bequest of ten thousand dollars ^>o the Fund which will be used to endow other units.
The British Players, Writers and
Directors of Hollywood donated fifteen hundred dollars for this purpose.
Many in the industry are making such gifts in
memory of friends and relatives.^Basic eligibility rules for admission to the Motion Picture Country House have already been recommended by the Eligibility Committee and adopted by the Executive Committee* These are as follows:* 1.
The following classifications as set forth in the eligibility rules of the Special Case Fund shall generally apply to the Home:
**• Motion Picture Relief Fund of America, Inc., 17th Annual Report, 1940-1941.
109 (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) 2.
Actor Writer Director or assistant director Technician (which designation shall be held to include technical branches necessary in the production of motion pictures) Producer
In cases of married couples — both parties must be considered eligible under the general rules.
3. Non-residence in the State of California shall not bar an applicant from the Home if otherwise considered eligible. 4 . A minimum of 15 years in the motion picture in dustry shall be a requirement of eligibility; provided, however, that those persons who have contributed substantially to the Industry for a shorter period of time shall be given considera tion. 5. The age of eligibility for men shall be fixed .at 60 years; birth date to be established by a birth certificate, or by other satisfactory evidence; provided, that in cases where a con dition of health will not permit them to pursue their activities In the industry, the age re quirements may be waived or modified at the discretion of the Board of Trustees or the Executive Committee. 6. Fifty-five years shall be fixed as the minimum age of eligibility for women, subject to the same provisions as laid down for the men. 7. Persons receiving State Aid for Aged shall not be denied admission to the Home because of such aid, but each case shall be given consideration and careful investigation prior to acceptance. 8 . In event any member of the Home shall acquire by inheritance or otherwise, money or property that he did not possess at the time of admission to the Home, such person shall have the follow ing option, viz: (a) to leave the Home by pay ing at the rate of six hundred dollars ($600.00) a year for the time spent in the Home, or (b) if such person desires to remain in the Home, such
110 member shall pay over to or convey such, pro perty to the corporation, to receive the net income therefrom during his lifetime, and may thereafter remain a member of the Home and enjoy the benefits thereof. 9. Only persons of good moral character, who are not deranged in mind or afflicted with any contagious or infectious disease, or any disease considered to be objectionable, and who are about sixty years of age, or older, are eligible to admission, subject to the rules and regulations of the Home and subject to the discretion of the Board of Trustees and Execu tive Committee. 10. In the case of applicants who are eligible to both the Motion Picture Country House and the Actor’s Fund Home, the Fund shall use its best efforts to induce the Actor’s Fund to contri bute to the cost of maintenance in the Motion Picture Country House. The same committee has formulated Rules and Regulations for the proper administration of the Country House.
also have been approved by the Executive Committee.
Laws of the Motion Picture Relief Fund provide that the Trus tees ’’shall have charge of the supervision over the founding, building and maintenance of a home11 for persons who are elig ible for admission.
The charter of the Fund defines the term
’’motion picture profession” as including all persons in the motion picture industry earning their *livelihood either by acting, directing or writing.
All persons wholly dependent
1 Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc. Folder, Eligibility.
Ill upon the production of motion pictures for their livelihood and who are so engaged for three consecutive years previous to making application to the Fund for assistance would be considered eligible to the Country Home providing they quali* fied under the specific eligibility rules for admission there to.
The Board of Trustees as defined in the charter has the
power to make such rules and regulations relative to the Home for the Aged as they may see fit from time to time. The Country House is not a hospital or’sanitarium for the care of the sick members of the motion picture profession or those who are serving with incurable, in fectious or contagious diseases. Facilities are to be provided for those who are taken sick or become dis abled after they have become residents of the Country House. The physician of the Fund will visit the Country House at regular intervals, and will be available for consultation by Guests. The resident nurse will care for minor ailments. If a guest becomes seriously ill, and more advanced medical care is necessary beyond the facilities of the Country House, such person will be removed to and cared for at a hospital at the Fund’s expense, subject however to the approval of the Fund’s regular physician and with the knowledge of the super intendent of the Country House. General rules and regulations state that each applicant must apply formally on a specially prepared form.
applications for admission to the Country House are submitted to the Executive Committee of the Fund.
The Executive Com
mittee’s action is reviewed by the Board of Trustees.
^ Loc. cit.
112 is to be a House Committee which, will function under the rules and regulations prescribed by the Executive Committee*
House Committee is to be appointed by the Executive Committee with the approval of the Board of Trustees*
of the Country House shall be responsible for the Home*
Superintendent is appointed by the Executive Committee of the Fund*
He has complete charge over the home subject to the
decisions of the Executive Committee.
The superintendent has
the duty of enforcing all rules and regulations governing the Home.
He is to have assistants to carry out these duties*^
The need for providing care for the
aged of the motion picture industry on a more permanent basis has become more and more apparent to the officers and trustees of the Fund*
In December 1938 Mr. Jean Hersholt of the Execu
tive Committee requested a list of Hold-timerstt carried on the Fund rolls for several years to submit to Mr. Shenck re garding a pension plan that was at that time under discussion* At the Executive Committee Meeting of January 11, 1939, Mr. Ewell Moore, the Fund’s Legal Counsel, was requested to draw up a preliminary survey of the situation regarding the possibility and need for a pension plan in all classifications of employment within the motion picture industry. 1
At the same
113 time, Mr. Samuel Goldwyn, a trustee, as well as other members of the Producers* Association, were to be advised of this study.
They were requested to appoint a committee to confer
with the Pund*s Executive Committee* As the Motion Picture Relief Fund was confronted with increasing applications for aid by eligible persons who through no fault of their own became superannuated making a rather critical drain upon the general funds of this organiza tion, a committee of four members was appointed to study this problem.
The result of their study was entitled !,Memorandum.
Points for Discussion by Committee for Motion Picture Relief Fund on Pension System and Related Matters”•
pointed out that when the Fund was first incorporated in 1924, its primary purpose was to provide emergency and temporary relief to those persons qualifying within the provisions of its charter.
For several years the Fund was able to meet
these demands for aid to a reasonable extent*
to the changing conditions within the motion picture industry causing an increasing number of Fund applicants to request not only emergency aid but that which extended over a period of time, it became more difficult for the Fund to meet its obligations.
It was believed that If these increasing numbers
who were qualified in asking aid due to superannuation and illness could be provided for by other means than through the general relief fund the Fund would better be able to meet the
114 steadily growing requests due to emergencies and unemployment. Therefore this committee was appointed to consider whether it would be practicable to set up a pension plan for those en gaged in the industry.
If"such a plan could be provided.lt
would'relieve the Fund of some of its obligations to those considered qualified persons and at the same time it would provide a more permanent solution to the ever increasing pro blem of superannuation.
In demonstrating the growing demands
upon the Fund this study showed that in 1937 the Fund received a large part of its income from the one-half of one per cent salary deductions, a total of $163,822.33.
In this period
the Fund handled 3,817 cases, expending $198,144.55, leaving the Fund with a deficit for the year of $34,322.22.
the Fund received a total of $268,266.18, also largely from the one-half of one per cent salary deductions*
period it handled 5,283 cases, expending a total of #279,809.11.
The deficit for 1938 was #11,542.93.1
This study further recorded that the Fund was then maintaining about 164 qualified persons who had been carried continuously for one year or more, and who probably were be coming permanent charges.
In addition to these there were
^ Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc. Committee. Memo randum - Points for Study by the Committee for the Motion Picture Relief Fund on Pension System and Related Matters.
115 about 178 persons at irregular periods who might become per manent charges at some time in the future.
All these were
considered by reason of their service in the industry right fully entitled to assistance.***
The Committee reported that
this group who were through no fault of their own becoming superannuated furnished a real and immediate problem to both the Fund and the industry as a whole.
Through' the years since
the Fund*s inception many individuals aged fifty years and over were assisted.
The Fund has always appreciated the fact
that actors and actresses in the motion picture industry are industrially old at a comparatively young age.
Women in the
industry usually become superannuated before the men.
cases that were accepted on the basis of unemployment due to age were granted weekly assistance over a period of several weeks.
From time to time these cases would come before the
attention of the Executive Committee for renewal. routinely be approved for continuance.
varied from ten dollars to forty dollars a week depending upon
3- An example of this is illustrated by the attitude of Mr. Jean Hersholt, President of the Fund, at the Executive Committee Meeting, January 16, 1940* He called the attention to the desperate circumstances of the first male star of the screen. Thereupon, the Executive Committee carried a motion that this individual be granted $25 per week in recognition of his great service in the industry over many years. A letter was sent to him stating that the Executive Committee considered it an honor and privilege to be able to extend this honorarium. Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc. Minutes, January 16, 1940.
116-117 the individual needs of the case*
Naturally the larger weekly
amounts were granted only in cases where a considerable amount of medical care had to be given or if the individual had to be sent to a rest home or sanitarium for care.^
felt that'the main problem facing the Fund was that of main taining those who probably never would again rehabilitate themselves due to illness or age. This Committee made a survey of several pension plans in order to discover which type would best suit its needs and the conditions within the industry*
First a survey was made
of the application to the picture industry of the Federal Old Age and Survivors Insurance under the Social Security Act* This Act applies to the picture industry and provides for old age benefits to persons employed in the industry who contri bute and whose employer contributes to a fund administered by the United States Government. compulsory basis.
These contributions are on a
Each employee pays a tax on his wages of
one per cent increasing progressively to three per cent in 1949*
The employer pays an excise tax on wages paid by him
in corresponding amount. To qualify for the monthly old age *
22,000^ for 3 the Fund, and in 1940, $27,752*40* The Community Chest grant
for 1941 neeted the Fund, $>55,822*71.^ The relationship of the Motion Picture Relief Fund to the Community Welfare Federation of Los Angeles now differs from that of other family service organizations.
first five years (1924r-1929) of its affiliation with the Com munity Welfare Federation, the Fund came to the conclusion that it could secure greater financial revenue independently, by using talent available in the industry and by extending the salary deductions of one-half of one per cent*
1 Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc, Minutes, Executive Committee * .October 11, 1938. Resolution passed by the Exe cutive Committee beginning December 1, 1938* 2 Ibid*, Minutes, June 27, 1939, Annual Meeting* ^ The 17th Annual Report of the Motion Picture Relief Fund of America, Inc., 1940-41* 4 Information obtained from Anona Rybold, Chief Auditor, Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc*
155 A recapitulation of the financial conditions described above in detail tends to show first, that the leading spirits came to the realization that the talent voluntarily available in the industry for the purpose of staging benefits was not fully utilized under the limitations imposed by Chest regula tions; second, that it was recognized that the stipulated voluntary contribution of the workers consisting of one-half of one per cent of salary deduction if consistently collected would amount to such sums as to eliminate the need for other sources of revenue.
These considerations led to the conclu
sion that it would be advantageous to sever all connections with the Community Welfare Federation of Los Angeles.
1930-1958, the Motion Picture Relief Fund received no funds from the Chest, raising all of its revenue independently* Since its reorganization in 1938, it has received a part of its support from the Community Chest under the terms of spe cial agreement by means of which the Fund receives a percentage refund on all contributions made by the film industry to the Chest* The Designated Relief Fund*
Although not a source of
income, the designated relief fund serves as a convenience to the donor*
That is, those desiring to aid beneficiaries not
eligible to the Motion Picture Relief Fund assistance may designate contributions for an individual or for a particular
In this case, the Fund disburses the full amount it
receives in accordance with the request made by the donor. Theatre Authority Fund.
All moneys received from the
Theatre Authority are .used on a similar basis.
Authority is the central disbursing agency for a group of some eight professional guilds.
The members of any of these
guilds may appear in a benefit show only if a percentage of the proceeds reverts to the credit of the guild of which the performer is a member. Authority.
Such moneys are handled by the Theatre
Each guild assists its members through Theatre
However, that office may not disburse moneys
Hence, by a verbal understanding, since 1939
the Fund acts as an intermediary and makes expenditures or payments to certain individuals upon the request of Theatre Authority, Inc.
The latter makes full reimbursement to the
Motion Picture Relief Fund.
This is purely a cooperative
service rendered by the Motion Picture Relief Fund. Direct Contributions.
A third source of income is de
rived from direct contributions.
Members of the industry who
do not favor the one-half of one per cent pledge plan, or who are subscribers and want to make an additional contribution, send their money directly to the Motion Picture Relief Fund.
Refunds provide a fourth source of income.
Refunds are divided into two sub-accounts under the headings of Open Account and Actors 1 Fund Cooperation,
Account Refunds are payments received from clients aided.
Actors’ Fund Cooperation is received in cases where a client has both stage and motion picture experience and has been eligible to some help from the Actors’ Fund of America.
Actors’ Fund will not assume full care for a client if he has devoted a number of years to the motion picture industry. However, if the client’s stage background is sufficient the Actors*. Fund frequently agrees to share the expense of any assistance with the Motion Picture Relief Fund.
applicant has given more service to the motion picture indus try than to the stage, the Actors* Fund’s share is proportion*ately less# Miscellaneous Income#
The fifth source of income is
classified as a miscellaneous group.
In the last five years,
there have been but two sources of miscellaneous income: polo game benefits held in 1938 and 1939, and the annual sale of Christmas cards.
Net income derived from the benefits
augments the general relief funds.
The income from Christmas
card sales provides the Children’s Christmas Party at Christ mas time as well as the Fund* s entire Christmas program, in cluding Christmas dinners and baskets to the clientele.
158 The years 1925 to 1929 are the years when the Motion Picture Relief Fund derived its principal support from the Los Angeles Community Chest of which it was a member agency. The tabulation in Table -IV-shows receipts and expenditures during this period.
It will be noted that the Motion Picture
Relief Fund incurred a deficit each year during this period. These deficits were met by personal loans from the members of the Board of Trustees and borrowing money from the Building Fund.
The year 1929 ended with a surplus because the program
of relief was drastically curtailed in an effort to stay with in the allowed Community Chest budget*. In 1930 the Motion Picture Relief Fund severed relations with the Community Chest.
It raised its revenue independently
from 1930 to 1938. Table V illustrates the effectiveness of the campaign for pledges of one-half of one per cent of employees1 salaries 1935-1940.
The constantly increasing case load shows the
growth of the Motion Picture Relief Fund’s welfare program. A great increase of income is noted beginning with the year 1938.
This was due to the agreement of 1938 with the
Community Chest already detailed. In comparison to total income the amount subscribed by employees is very striking.
The progressively increasing
figures in that column (Table V) illustrates the efficacy of making mandatory the one-half of one per cent deductions of
TABLE IV INCOME AND EXPENDITURES FOR THE YEARS 1925 THROUGH 1929
Surplus Deficit Case Load
TABLE V INCOME AND EXPENDITURES FOR THE YEARS 1935 THROUGH 1940 1935 Employment Contribu« tions $149,503.00
Relief Ex penditures
Administra18,801.38 tlve Expenses
Total Expen ditures 144,026.64 Surplus Deficit Case Load
161 actors1 salaries and the intensive campaign for voluntary pledges. It is further noted in this table that administrative expenses are low in proportion to case load and total expend itures.
In 1940 administrative expenses amounted to 13.6 per
cent of the total budget and in 1941, 14.4 per cent.7- The figures in Table V show the relative constancy of administra tive costs compared with steeply mounting case load*
Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc. Reports*
Folder on Case
CHAPTER VI SUMMARY AND FINDINGS SUMMARY This study has been concerned with the historical de velopment of the program and policies of the Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc. located in Hollywood, California.
includes a description of the organization of the motion picture industry in order to explain the relationship of the Motion Picture Relief Fund to this industry.
The study of
the organization itself includes a description of the origin and development of its program and policies as well as a dis cussion of the financial operations.
The purpose was to study
the adaptation of its organization to the needs of the picture industry and to discover if its practices in any way relate to social insurance principles. Essential information for this study was obtained from the minutes, files, mimeographed material and annual reports of the Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc.
tion was secured through the numerous interviews with several of the professional staff members and with the officers of the Fund. The study discloses that the Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc. is essentially a social welfare agency existing for a
163 benevolent' and charitable purpose*
It has developed certain
practices that may be compared to some principles of social insurance.
The Fund has so adapted its program and policies
the better to meet the ever changing and growing magnitude of the problems peculiar to employees of the motion picture industry* SIMILARITY TO WELFARE ORGANIZATIONS Purpose*
The Motion Picture Relief Fund developed out
of an organization formed during the first World War by prominent members of the motion picture industry who recogniz ed the needs of those returning from war services, formerly employees of the industry.
Its purpose was to give emergency
relief to those suffering sickness, accident or temporary un employment.
Giving assistance to employees who are in need
of the picture industry has continued to be the sole purpose throughout its development with rehabilitation as an objective. Today its purpose is still benevolent and charitable, a pur pose which it has In common with all welfare organizations. Eligibility.
The determination of eligibility for .
assistance from the Motion Picture Relief Fund is based upon individual need and in this respect is similar to the usual practice in social welfare agencies.
Before a Fund applicant
may receive assistance he must prove he is without adequate
164 resources for his own support*
Verification of his need is
made through a social investigation carried on toy an employed social worker.
Individual or family need for assistance may
toe caused toy a number of reasons, namely, lack of employment within the industry, sickness, accident, disability or old * age. Budgeting.
The Motion Picture Relief Fund budgets its
cases for assistance on the same principle as do other social welfare agencies. vidual need.
Budget Items are in accordance with indi
The American Red Cross food budget is used as a
guide for the adequate nutrition and maintenance of health. This may toe added to or subtracted from as the need may re quire.
However there is no other standard budget used and
the significant difference In budgeting is that there is no stated maximum above which Fund applicants may receive assist ance.
The practice in budgeting is Intended to allow an
applicant that which he is accustomed in his usual standard of living and is an essential part of the treatment process. No attempt is made to either raise or lower an individual’s accustomed standard of living.
Budgeting for mere subsistence
has no place in this organization’s policy. Rehabilitation*
In Its aim for individual rehabilita~
tion the objective of the Motion Picture Relief Fund’s pro fessional staff is similar to that of other.social welfare
The professional staff has as its objective the
economic, social, physical and emotional adjustment of. the recipients for assistance*
Each social worker is responsible
for helping a client to become self sufficient and independent, insofar as possible*
Until this has been achieved, the treat
ment of a case is not considered satisfactorily completed* Method of Support.
The Motion Picture Relief Fund like
other social welfare agencies secures its support through contributions from individuals who are best able to pay.
tributions are directly from individuals in the industry and are collected by salary deductions as well as by percentage t
refunds from funds collected by the Community Chest from the industry.
Unlike Community Chest allotments to most social
agencies within a community these are moneys received as con tributions by the Chest during its campaign from employees and employers of the motion picture industry.
agreement the Fund is given a percentage of all such contri butions collected.
As in other social agencies contributions
received from those best able to.pay are from the group who rarely would be in need of assistance* Structure and Organization*
Although differing in
minor detail, basically the organization of the Motion Picture Relief Fund follows the conventional plan.
It has an associa
tion of membership, which at its annual meeting elects
166 officers and members of the board of trustees.
are president, four vice-presidents, a treasurer and are pro posed by a Nominating Committee.
They perform the usual
duties devolving upon these officers.
The duties of secretary
of the board of trustees are performed by the assistant execu tive secretary who is a member of the employed staff.
executive committee is elected, each year from the membership by the board of trustees.
The President, the several Vice-
presidents and the Treasurer of .the Board of Trustees are ex officio members of the Executive Committee.
It has all the
power and authority vested in the Board of Trustees during the interval between board meetings.
The executive committee
executes orders of the Board of Trustees.
A significant point
of departure from the usual responsibility vested in the Executive Committee in welfare agencies is the review of all applications by a Case Committee and the Executive Committee. In fact, the extent of the active participation of members In the whole case work process distinguishes the Motion Picture Relief Fund from other social welfare organizations.
three main committees, the Case Committee, the Special Case Committee and Home Eligibility Committee are appointed by the Executive Committee not to serve the professional staff in an advisory capacity, but to help actively in the administra tion of the work of the Fund.
167 The most significant committee is the Case Committee, which serves as intake committee and from the very beginning has been responsible for deciding the treatment of each case* The original Case Committee was a sub-committee of the Execu tive Committee consisting of three members: twp members chosen from the Executive Committee and the third, the employ ed Executive Secretary*
The Case Committee today is made up
entirely of interested members of the motion picture industry, not necessarily members of the Executive Committee of. the Fund.
This committee assumes full and complete responsibility
for acceptance, rejection, review and continuation of cases* Absolutely nothing can be done without its decision or recom mendation*
The social case workers as well as the Executive
Secretary must carry out its plans.
The social workers serve
as investigators and present their cases in person weekly to the Case Committee*
The Executive Secretary supervises the
work of the social case workers but they in reality are directly responsible to the Case Committee* In this same way the Special Case Committee and the Home Eligibility Committee serve as intake committees. . The Special Case Committee considers and passes on all pension cases, while the Home Eligibility Committee is responsible for determining which applicants are eligible to the Motion Picture Country Home for the Aged*
168 The Volunteer Christmas Committees are appointed each year "by the Executive Committee to carry out the activities of the holiday season#
From time to time other committees
are appointed "by the Executive Committee to function for spe*cific purposes and these are dissolved when their work has been accomplished* As in other social welfare agencies trained social workers are employed to carry on the activities of case workers.
There are seven social workers employed in addition
to the Executive Secretary who serves as the director of Social Welfare.
The point of difference here is that the
social case workers are not responsible for the plan of treat** ment for the cases assigned to them for investigation.
carry out the recommendations and decisions of the Case Com mittee which in effect acts not only as an intake committee, "but in the capacity of supervisor of case workers* SIMILARITY TO SOCIAL INSURANCE PRINCIPLES Cooperative Effort♦
Through its various stages of
organization, reorganization and development the Fund has been a cooperative effort of employers .and employees of the Motion Picture Industry to protect the workers of the indus try from the common hazards of their employment.
from the industry are responsible for the administration of the Motion Picture Relief Fund.
This administration by mem
169 bers within an industry is common to similar efforts in in dustrial organizations*
Leadership has always come from the
ranks of the motion picture industry.
This leadership has
been spontaneous, arising from good fellowship and brother hood within an industry which has always felt an obligation to take care of its own.
In this respect it is like an in
dustrial mutual benefit association, which is an organization arising out of the joint effort of employees and management to protect workers from complete loss of earnings due to sickness, accident, disability or death* Qualifications for Eligibility*
Those served by the
Motion Picture Relief Fund must be eligible by reason of hav ing been employees of the motion picture industry for the required number of years.
In this respect also it resembles
the industrial mutual benefit association, which permits benefits only to individuals who have been employed within the industry.
But whereas a welfare organization such as the
Family Welfare Association of Los Angeles will give assistance to applicants without regard to affiliation to any particular industry, the Motion Picture Relief. Fund requires that an applicant must have been an employee in the motion picture industry for a specified number of years, namely three. Contributions and Benefits.
The idea of contributions
based on salaries is a common principle in unemployment In
The fact that the Motion Picture Relief Fund de
rives a major part of its income from employee contributions represents a specific point of similarity to the California Unemployment Insurance Act.
According to the Act, each worker
in covered industries beginning January 1, 1936 contributed to the State Unemployment Insurance Fund one-half of one per cent of his wages.
After January 1, 1938 the amount increased
to one per cent of the workers* wages.-*-
California State Unemployment Insurance Act requires that the employer contribute equally to the unemployment fund the same percentage of all wages paid.
In the case of the Motion Picture Relief Fund, there are also contributions from both employers and employees. But this program Is voluntary.
The producers in the motion
picture industry (employers) have made contributions to the Motion Picture Relief Fund since its inception and since the Fund!s reorganization in 1938, producers have contributed regularly by specific agreement.
Their contributions have
constituted the second largest source of revenue since 1937. While these contributions are voluntary and there is no per
California Unemployment Insurance Act as amended Article 4, Contributions, Sec* 44*
2 The industry is covered by the Act and both employers and employees pay the taxes specified.
centage contribution the fact that employers have agreed to contribute marks a resemblance to insurance.
The plan re
sembles voluntary group insurance perhaps rather than unemploy ment insurance as established by the California Unemployment Insurance Act. All actors earning above one hundred dollars a week are required to make contributions of one-half of one per cent of their salaries.
There are in addition voluntary contributions
from all other employees in the industry.
Assistance on the
other hand is given solely on the basis of need and is not dependent upon contributions previously made by the recipient. In fact the records show that the majority of cases aided in volve persons who have never made any contributions to the Fund.^ In unemployment insurance, apart from other considera tions, benefits are received as an Individual right and are In no way based on need.
In the Motion Picture Relief Fund
plan assistance is given as a group right.
received in assistance is in no way related to the sums con tributed by the beneficiary.
In this respect the plan differs
from unemployment insurance practice.
Interviews with Mr. Jean Hersholt, President, and Miss Wilma Bashor, Executive Secretary, Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc.
172 In order to be eligible for assistance from the Motion Picture Relief Fund the beneficiary must have been employed in the motion picture industry for at least three years pre vious to application and.mus t .have earned at least fSbO1 in each of those years.
If he has absented himself from the
motion picture industry for a period of five years by reason of having gone to the legitimate stage he is still considered eligible.
However if he has left the theatrical profession
altogether his eligibility is disqualified.
Thus rules of
eligibility in the Motion Picture Relief Fund, similar in principle, differ in detail from those of unemployment in surance.
For instance the California Unemployment Insurance
Act requires that before an individual is eligible to benefits he must have earned wages in the amount of $300 during a base period which consists of 11the first four out of the last five completed calendar quarters Immediately preceding the first day of an individuals benefit year*M^ Financial Organization.
The Motion Picture Relief
Fund has developed a unique system of financing its work
Although $350 is the stated minimum earnings in the rules of eligibility, in actual practice this minimum has been increased to $500. Cf* p* 80* p
California Unemployment Insurance Act, ££. cit♦, Article V. Qualifications for Benefits, Sec. 52*1#
173 through the compulsory deductions of one-half of one per cent of salaries of actors earning more than one hundred dollars a month.
These so called "studio deductions" have provided the
major part of its funds since 1930.
Prom 1925 to 1929 while
a member of the Community Chest of Los Angeles, the Fund found itself handicapped by a budget deemed inadequate to carry on its relief program with the generosity which was the aim of the Executive Committee.
Consequently in 1930 the Motion
Picture Relief Fund withdrew from the Community Chest.
subsequent years the campaign to promote both voluntary and compulsory deductions from salaries of employees was waged with progressively successful results but the sums available for relief still failed to keep pace with the ever growing demands of constantly increasing numbers of applicants. In the year 1938 the Motion Picture Relief Fund entered into a special agreement with the Community Chest whereby as a non-institutional member it derives a sizeable portion of its income from the Chest but it is not restricted by any of the limitations of the usual agreement between family welfare organizations and the Community Welfare Federation.
$27,752*40 was received through the Community Chest and $272,873.21 from the "studio deductions". was $379,505*64.
The total income
Seven per cent of this income was derived
from Community Chest contributions while seventy-one per cent was from the compulsory one-half of one per cent employee
174 contributions• Pension Plan*
The Motion Picture Relief Fund operates
a pension plan which is financed by contributions from the producers who are the employers*
This plan is similar to the
non-contributory discretional pension pian on a cash disburse ment .basis in general existence for years in industrial or ganizations prior to the passage of the Social Security Act* Applicants for pensions must meet the general eligibility rules of the Motion Picture Relief Fund and have reached the age of 55 years*
The age limit of 55 years may be varied by
not more than ten per cent at the discretion of the Special Case Committee*
The applicant must have been employed in the
industry for ten consecutive years or for a minimum of fifteen years.
Aid is given on the basis of need and assistance is
The maximum monthly allowance is $55*
But in addition to this sum special needs such as medical care, hospitalization or sanitarium care may be provided*
no stated requirement for State residence or citizenship* The pension plan in existence in the Motion Picture Re lief Fund is similar to old age assistance plans that have existed for a long time in many of the states in this country* In these old age assistance plans grants have been given on the basis of need and budgeted in this manner.
This was true
in California up to July 1941 when the amendment to the law
175 went into effect*
Since then the sum of $40 has been granted
to needy eligible applicants but not budgeted as formerly on an individual basis*'1' Since the passage of the Social Security Act in 1935*^ old age assistance plans now in operation in the several states are more uniform in practice.
One of the first provisions in
this Act provided for grants to states for old age assistance enabling them to make more adequate provision for the aged* Those states whose plans for the aged meet with the Social Security Board*s approval are eligible to receive Federal grants for old age assistance in an amount equal to one-half of the sums expended for each needy individual 65 years of age.
In addition a sum of five per cent of such expenditures
is given to the states for the cost of administration of the State plan for old age assistance. participating states.
California is one of the
The California Old Age Security Law
-L Welfare and Institutions Code, State of California 1939* SecT 2160. (Sacramento: California State Printing Office)* ^ Compilation of the Social Security Laws, Social Security Board, Washington, B.C., January 3, 1941. Title I, Grants to States in Old Age Assistance* ^ State of California, Department of Social Welfare, Laws Relating To Social Welfare, Revised to September 3, 1941. (Sacramento: California State Printing Office, 1 941).Sections 2000-2360.
176 grants old age assistance to any person who is 65 years of age, who is a citizen of the United States, who has resided in the State for five out the last nine years and one year continuously in the County immediately proceeding date of application and who is not receiving support from a husband, wife or child who are legally responsible relatives,
under this law is.granted to any person who owns personal property exceeding five hundred dollars.
does not include insurance policies that have been in effect at least five years prior to the date of application if the value at maturity does not exceed one thousand dollars.
aid may be granted to an individual who possesses real pro perty with an assessed valuation in excess of $3,000.
maximum monthly allowance granted, excepting casual income is $40*
Provision is made for excess need if this can be
established* The Fund supplemented the Statefs allowance in twenty' nine cases of eligible beneficiaries with the sum of $15 monthly, where individual need made this advisable, up to June of 1941.
At that time an amendment to the California
State Law eliminated allowable supplementary i n c o m e I n «
■*" The Old Age Assistance Law of California was amended January 1, 1941, to take effect July 1, 1941.
177 eluded in the amended law is an "excess need clause" which permits medical care and emergency repair on houses without limitation.
In this category the Motion Picture Relief Fund
may supplement an eligible individual’s old age assistance grant. ATTITUDE OF LEADERS OF THE MOTION PICTURE RELIEF FUND The attitude of the leaders toward the purpose and existence of the Motion Picture Relief Fund expresses the philosophy underlying social insurance principles.
attitude is best described by the members of the Executive Committee themselves.
Mr. Irving Pichel speaking at the
annual membership meeting of 1938 stated the director’s point of view was no different from that of others in the industry. In his opinion contributions to the Motion Picture Relief Fund should be considered as a form of insurance, inasmuch as any employee in the motion picture industry might be obliged at some time to request assistance.
He felt that if non-contri
butors c.ould sit with the Executive Committee they would realize that the Motion Picture Relief Fund was "their or ganization, set up by themselves, financed by themselves, and should be supported wholeheartedly."^-
Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc. Meeting, June 28, 1939.
Minutes of Annual
178 Mr. Ralph Block, writer, and formerly producer, who has worked in the motion picture industry for twenty years, and who is now First Vice-President of the Motion Picture Relief Fund, says that the motion picture industry is very different from most other industries and has many peculiar characteristics, due to the inconstancy of the business and the rapid turnover of labor, especially in the talent groups. Says he, You can never determine ahead of time when that mysterious essence in actors, writers and producers will click, making an individual a success. Up to day, down tomorrow, from producer down through the lowliest laborer. There but for the grace of God go I.l Therefore the. Motion Picture Relief Fund exists as a helping hand for those who find themselves on the more unfor tunate end of the line.
The Fund is based on the idea of self-
help to take care of its own as is a mutual benefit association rather than conceived as outright charity.
The Fund tries to
keep the employees of the motion picture industry aware that it is not giving charity.
At the same time, ,fthe givers to
the Fund fully appreciate that this is an outlet for their humanitarian and altruistic motives.”
The attitude is that
the recipient has a right to any aid received from the Motion
Mr. Ralph Block, First Vice-President, Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc, Personal Interview, March 3, 1942.
179 Picture Relief Fund, by reason of having contributed his talent and service to the industry, apart from any monetary contribu tion. Mr* Block stresses the fact that the Fund always keeps in mind the dignity of charity.
Assistance is given tactfully
and sympathetically and the client feels this level of approach* The Fund keeps the dispensing
of charity on an absolutely
human plan--never making the client feel he
is a receiver as •i
such, but that he has a f,right!! to receive. Summing up his attitude toward the Motion Picture Re lief Fund, Mr. Block stated that the Motion Picture Relief Fund in its plan was tending tfcowards Social Insurance but that probably the industry as a whole Is not aware of this fact. Although this is a charitable organization it is of the mutual benefit type. Mr. Jean Hersholt, actor associated with motion pictures for more than thirty years, now President of the Motion Picture Relief Fund, does not believe
that what the Fund is doing
should be classed as charity. It is a ^right”
because of the
recipient having contributed his talent and service to the building up of the motion picture industry.
He says that it
differs from a mutual benefit association In that there is no
^ Mr. Ralph Block, First Vice-President, Motion Picture Relief Fund, Personal Interview. March 3, 1942.
180 relationship between contributions and benefits, and that more often than not, those who receive assistance have never contributed anything at all.
Neither is it social insurance.
However contributions are in services and talent, rather than in money. Mr. Hersholt says that the motion picture industry is not like any other industry.
The Motion Picture Relief Fund
is not like any other mutual aid or welfare organization be cause it has grown and developed to meet the peculiar needs of the motion picture industry.
The Motion Picture Relief
Fund is not an example for other welfare organizations but has been designed to meet a specific need#^ Basically the Motion Picture Relief Fund is a welfare organization motivated by the ideals of brotherhood and mutual benefit.
It has modified traditional methods of organization
and finances usual in welfare organizations to suit the pecu** liar demands and exigencies of the motion picture industry. It evaluates contributions in terms of talent and service as well as money.
It administers assistance as a group right
and not as charity.
The Fund is in a state of transition in
organization as evidenced by its practices and the attitude of
^ Mr. Jean Hersholt, President, Motion Picture Relief Fund, Personal Interview. March 4, 1942#
181 its leaders.
Although a welfare organization, the Motion
Picture Relief Fund, Inc. is tending to utilize some of the principles of social insurance.
PRIMARY SOURCES California Laws, Statutes, etc. Unemployment Insurance Act (1941). . Sacramento: California State Printing Office, 1941. 63 pp. Department of Social Welfare, State of California, Laws Relate ing to Social Welfare. Revised to September 13, 1941. Sacramento: California State Printing Office, 1941. 216 pp. Los Angeles Community Weifare Federation, Family Welfare Division, 1151 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, California. 1. Folder, Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc. 2. Budget Committee for 1940, Folder, Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc. Motion Picture Relief Fund, Inc., 6902 Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood, California. I* Annual Report, 1929-1930.. Second Annual Report, 1926. 3. Seventeenth. Annual Report, 1940-1941. ______ 1. 2. 3.
, Folders? Case Reports Eligibility General, Including Articles of Incorporation Monthly Case Reports
_______, Minutes: 1. Minutes of the Annual Meetings. Special Case Committee, Finance Committee, Building Committee, and Eligibility Committee, January 20, 1925. 2* Minutes of Case Committee. June 1, 1938. 3. Minutes of the Executive Committee Meetings, June 1927 to May 1938. 4. Minutes of the Executive Committee Meetings, June 1, 1938. 5. Minutes of the Motion Picture Branch of Actors* Fund and Motion Picture Relief Fund. August 8, 1921 to May 10, 1927. .
, Committee: Ralph Morgan, Ralph Block, Mary McCall and Ewell D.. Moore. Memorandum Points for Discussion by Committee for Motion Picture Relief Fund on Pension System and Related Matters. January 27, 1939. 12 pp.
184 Social Security Board, Washington, D.C., Compilation of the Social Security Laws. Washington, B.C.: January 3, 1941. 90 pp. SECONDARY SOURCES Almanac Ramsaye, Terry, Editor, International Motion Picture Almanac. New York: Quigley Publishing Company. 1941-1942. 1105 pp. Books Ansell, Charles, A Treatise on Friendly Societies. Baldwin and Craddock, 1835. 198 pp.
Armstrong, Barbara Nachtrieb, Insuring the Essentials. York: The Macmillan Company, 1932. 717 pp.
Bardeche, Maurice, History of the MotionPictures. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1938. 412 pp. Eden, Sir Frederick M., Observations on Friendly Societies, for the Maintenance of the Industrious Classes buring" Sickness, Infirmity, Old Age, and Other Exigencies. London: Printed for J. White & J. Wright, 1801. 30 pp. Ferguson, Charles W., Fifty Million Brothers. Farrar and Rinehart, Inc., 1937. 389 pp.
Kennedy, Joseph P., Editor, The Story of the Films, New York: A. W. Shaw Company, 1927. pp. 607. Kiesling, Barrett C., TalkingPictures. Publishing Company^ T^3y 7 332 pp.
New York: Johnson
Lewis, Howard T., The Motion Picture Industry. New York:; D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc., 1933. 454 pp. National Industrial Conference Board, Inc., The Present Status of Mutual Benefit Associations. New York, 1931. 104 pp. Ross, Murray, Stars and Strikes. ity Press. 1941. 233 pp.
Rosten, Leo C., Hollywood, New York: Company, 194TI 436 pp.
Harcourt, Brace and
Millis, Harry A., and Montgomery, Royal E., LaborTs Risks and Social Insurance. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc*, 1938* 453 pp* Bulletin Turner, Victoria B., ‘'Mutual- Relief Associations Among Govern ment Employees in Washington, D.C." United States Depart ment of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bulletin.No. 282. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1921. pp. 3-38* Wandby, William S., "Mutual Relief and Benefit Associations in the Printing Trade," United States Department of Labor. Bulletin No. 19, Vol. III. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1898. pp. 829-851. Encyclopaedia Articles Cassidy,.Harry M., "Benefit Trade Unions", Encyclopaedia,of the Social Sciences, II: 513-515, 1930. Dawson, W. H., "Friendly Societies", Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, VI: 494-498, 1931. _______ , "Mutual Aid Societies", Encyc1opaedia of the Social Sciences, XI: 168-172, October 1933. Gross, Charles, "Guilds", Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, XII, 14-17. Hankins, Frank H., "Fraternal Orders", Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, VI: pp. 423-425, 1931. Newspaper New York Times, March 1, 1942. Pamphlet Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, "It's Happening in Hollywood." Hollywood, March 27, 1939. Periodical Articles Green, Walter C., "Fraternals Felt to Have Assured Place in Life Insurance", The National Underwriter. Life Insurance Editfon. 45:3,.May 2, 1941.
Lee, John C., "The Guild", Screen Actor# October 1941.
6;9, 10, 22, 23,
Morgan, Ralph and Lee, John C., "The Guild", Screen Actor, 6:18, 19, 20, 52. September, 1941. Publication Social Security Board, Washington, D.C*, Publication No. 20, Social Security in America. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1937. 592 pp. Research Reports Jameson, Samuel Haig, Report of Investigation. The Motion Picture.Relief Fund of America. Los Angeles: Social Service Department, July-August, 1929. 12 pp. National Industrial Conference Board, Inc., Research Report No. 65. New York: 1923. 155 pp. National Industrial Conference Board, Inc., Research Report No. 66. New York: 1923. pp. 1-48. Year Books Alicoate, Jack, Editor, The 1940 Film Daily Year Book of Motion Pictures. New York: Film Daily. 1120 pp. Andrews, John B., "Labor Legislation and Administration", Social Work Year Book. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1939. pp. 217-218. Falk, I. S., "Health Insurance", Social Work Year Book. , New York: Russell Sage Foundation, .1939. pp. 162-166. White, R. Clyde, "Social Insurance", Social Work Year Book. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1941. pp. 535-540.
ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION of MOTION PICTURE RELIEF FUND OF AMERICA, INC. KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENT: That we, the undersigned, a majority of whom are citizens and residents of the State of California, do hereby associate •ourselves for the purpose of, and we hereby form a non-profit corporation, as follows, to-wit: I. The name of this corporation is changed to MOTION PICTURE RELIEF FUND, INC.1 II. That this corporation is formed for charitable and bene volent purposes, and especially: (a)
To receive and raise money by subscription, dona
tion, bequests; by dues from its members, by theatre benefits, fairs and festivals, and by and in such other ways and means as may from time to time be provided in the By-Laws of said corporation;
Amended June 28, 1938.
To invest and reinvest the moneys and property it
may receive from any sources in and on such security or securi ties and in such manner and on such conditions as may be pro vided in the By-Laws of said corporation; (c)
To use, apply and devote the moneys, funds, property
and securities, and the interest, income and gains therefrom, to advance, promote, foster and benefit the condition and wel~ fare of persons engaged in the motion picture profession, and their families, and the aged, indigent and sick belonging to the said profession, in such way and manner, and at such times as may be provided in the By-Laws of said corporation: (d)
To purchase and own such real estate and other pro
perty as may be necessary for the purposes of said corporation, and to purchase a home for the aged and indigent members of the motion picture profession in the State of California. Pecuniary profit is not the object of this corporation. III. The term for which said corporation shall exist is fifty (50) years. IV. The place where its principal business shall be trans« acted shall be in the City of Los Angeles, State of California. V. The number of directors or trustees shall be thirty-one (31), of whom at least twenty-two (22) shall be actively en
190 gaged in or. connected with the motion picture industry, and the persons named herein shall constitute the Board of Trus tees of said corporation until their successors are legally elected and qualified under the By-Laws -of said corporation* The Trustees shall he classified in respect of the time for which they shall severally hold office, by dividing them into three classes, each class consisting, as near as may be, of one-third of the whole number of the Board of Trustees.
Trustees of the first class, consisting of eleven members, shall be elected for a term of one year; the Trustees of the second class, consisting of ten members, shall be elected for a term of two years; and the Trustees of the third class, consisting of ten members, shall be elected for a term of three years.
At each annual election the successors to the
Trustees of the class whose term shall expire in that year shall be elected to hold office for the term of three yeqrs, so that the term of office of one class of Trustees shall ex pire in each year. VI. The names and residences of those who are selected for the first year, or until the election and qualifications of their successors, are::
191 Wedgwood Nowell ............
Hal E* Roach................
Rupert Hughes ..............
I. Thalberg* * * * ........
Mae Murray............ . . .
Charles C h a p l i n ............
Rob V/agner* * . . . . . . .
Ewell P. Moore.......... .. •
Charles H. Christie ........
William S. Hart ............
W. T. Wyatt................
Prank E. Yvroods..............
Neal Dodd ..................
Mark Larkin ................
R. P. Fairbanks ............
Alfred A. Cohn* . . ........
Mary Pickford • • ..........
Douglas Fairbanks ..........
• *Los Angeles, California
Fred V/. ^ e e t s o n ............
• .Los Angeles, California
Victor H. Clarke............
• « Los Angeles, California
Cecil B. de Miller..........
Mary H. 0 fConnor............
John W. Considine, Jr........... Los Angeles, California Jesse L. Lasky. .'.............. Los Angeles, California Winifred Kingstop. Farnum* . . • .Los Angeles, California Joseph M* Schenck . . . . . . .
. L 03 Angeles, California
Joseph De Grasse. . . . . . . . .Los Angeles, California Glen Harper .................... Los Angeles, California VII# That there is no capital stock and there are no shares of stock. VIII. The term f,Motion Picture Profession” used in these Articles shall be held to include all persons earning their livelihood solely by acting, directing, or writing, in or for motion pictures intended for public screen exhibition; as well as any and all persons wholly dependent upon the production of motion pictures intended for public screen exhibition for their livelihood, and who shall have been so engaged for at least three consecutive years; and also all other persons in any way connected with the production of motion pictures, as in the sole and unrestricted discretion and judgment of the Board of Trustees, shall entitle them to designation as being engaged in the production of motion pictures.
^ Amended June 28, 1938.
193 IN WITNESS WHEREOF, we have hereunto set our hands this 8th day of December, 1924* Frank E. Woods Neal Dodd Joseph M# Schenck Mark Larkin Donald Crisp Robert P. Fairbanks Douglas Fairbanks . Mary Pickford Alfred A, Cohn Fred W. Beetson Victor H. Clarke Cecil B. de Miller Mary H. 0 !Connor Chas. H. Christie Harold Lloyd W. T. Wyatt
John W* Considine, Jr. Joseph De Grasse Wedgwood Nowell I. G. Thalberg Charles Chaplin Ewell D. Moore William S. Hart Winifred Kingston Farnum Jesse L. Lasky Hal E. Roach Rupert Hughes Mae Murray Mitchell Lewis Rob Wagner Glen Harper
AMENDED BY-LAWS of the MOTION PICTURE RELIEF FUND OF AMERICA, INC. Section 1.
This Corporation shall, as provided in the
Articles of Incorporation, be known as the MOTION PICTURE RELIEF FUND OF AMERICA, INC.
The office for the transaction
of its business shall be in the City of Los Angeles, State of California. Section 2.
The object of said Corporation shall be to
advance, promote, foster and benefit the condition of needy persons connected with the production of motion pictures, as defined in the said Articles of Incorporation, in such way and manner as shall be determined in accordance with the By-Laws. Section 3.
The business of the Corporation shall be
controlled by a Board of Trustees consisting of thirty-one (31) members, of whom at least twenty-two (22) shall be actively engaged in or connected with the Motion Picture In dustry.
The Trustees shall be classified in respect of the
time for which they shall severally hold office, by dividing them into three (3) classes, each class consisting, as near as may be, of one-third of the whole number of the Board of Trustees.
The Trustees of the first class, consisting of
196 eleven (11) members, shall be elected for a term of one (1) yearj the Trustees of the second class, consisting of ten (10) members, shall be elected for a term of two (2) years; and the Trustees of the third class, consisting of ten (10) members, shall be elected for a term of three (3) years.
At each annual
election the successors to the Trustees of the class whose term shall expire in that year shall be elected to hold office for the term of three years, so that the term of office of one class of Trustees shall expire in each year, and the first thirty-one (31) shall be decided by lot. Section 4.
THE OFFICERS AND TRUSTEES of said Corporation
shall be elected by ballot at the annual meeting and shall hold office until their successors are duly elected and qualified; provided, no person shall be eligible to election as an Officer or Trustee who has not been a member in good standing for at least thirty (30) days before the annual election.
election and qualification of their successors, the retiring officers and Trustees shall deliver to their successors the property.of every nature belonging to the Corporation in their possession. Section 5.
The BOARD OF TRUSTEES shall have the power
to appoint and fix the compensation of the Secretary, and such other persons as may be necessary to carry out -the work and objects of the Fund*
197 Section 6#
The PRESIDENT shall preside at all meetings
of the Members and of the Board of Trustees; he shall appoint all committees, except the Executive Committee, and be ex officio member of the same; at all elections he shall appoint a judge and tellers of election, who shall receive and count the votes and certify the result. Section 7.
The FIRST VICE-PRESIDENT shall perform the
duties of,President in the event of a vacancy in said office, or in case of the inability of the President to act, or his absence from the City of Los Angeles, temporarily or otherwise. Section 8.
The SECOND VICE-PRESIDENT shall perform the
duties of the office of President in the event of a vacancy in both the office of President and of the First Vice-Presi dent, and the absence of both from the City of Los Angeles, or of their inability to attend. Section 9.
The THIRD VICE-PRESIDENT shall perform the
duties of the office of President in the event of a vacancy in the office of President, First Vice-President and Second VicePresident, and in the absence of the three from the City of Los Angeles, or of their inability to attend. Section 10.
The FOURTH VICE-PRESIDENT shall perform the
duties of the office of the President in the event of a vacancy in the office of President, First Vice-President, Second VicePresident and Third Vice-President, and the absence of the four from the City of Los Angeles, or of their inability to
198 attend• Section 11.
The TREASURER shall take charge of all the
moneys and funds of the Corporation; shall invest the same.in the name of the Corporation, in ouch way and manner and on such security or securities as shall be directed by the Board of Trustees; shall deposit such moneys and securities in the name of the Corporation in such safe deposit company or bank ing institution as shall be designated by the Board of Trus tees or the Executive Committee, from which no-money -shall be drawn excepting on vouchers approved by the Presiding officer of the Board of Trustees, or of the Executive Committee, and signed by such Presiding officer and the Secretary; shall keep proper, books of account in which shall be entered all moneys received and paid out by him and all moneys invested or deposited, showing how invested or deposited, and showing the nature and kind of securities, the amount and where the same are deposited.
He shall give such bond for the faithful
performance of his duties as may be required by the Board of Trustees or Executive Committee. Section 12.
The SECRETARY shall be a paid officer.
shall make a report of all moneys received and paid out of the Treasurer’s Fund, and out of the Revolving Fund, to the Execu tive Committee at each of its meetings; he shall keep a true and faithful report of all proceedings at the meetings of the members, the Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee,
199 shall keep a roll of the members and books in which shall be entered the sums of money paid, and dues from members, and the Quma of money paid by the Corporation to its members and other persons, and of all moneys received, or paid by him to the Treasurer, and of all orders' or vouchers on the Treasurer, countersigned by him; shall keep the accounts, papers and the seal of the Corporation in such form and manner and for such uses and purposes as the Board of Trustees may require; shall collect and receive the dues from members and pay over the same, and all other moneys he may receive for the Corporation, to the Treasurer; he shall conduct the correspondence and transact such other business as shall be entrusted to him; he shall have all his books at every meeting of the Corporation and at such meetings of the Board of Trustees and of the Executive Committee as shall be required; shall deliver the same to the Board of Trustees when so required; he shall send all notices of all meetings and all bills to members; shall countersign all vouchers or orders upon the Treasurer, and shall perform such other duties as may be required of him by the Board of Trustees or the Executive Committee, Section 13.
An ASSISTANT SECRETARY may be employed,
and he shall at all times be in attendance at the rooms of the Corporation; shall assist the Secretary in the performance of his duties and shall perform such other duties as may be re quired of him from time to time by the Board of Trustees or
the Executive Committee, Section 14.
The BOARD OF TRUSTEES shall have the entire
and supreme control, direction and management of the affairs of the Corporation; they shall provide for the raising of money by benefits, fairs, festivals and by and in any other way or means they may determine; provide for the safe deposit and investment of all moneys and funds of the Corporation; make, as far as may be practicable, rules and regulations for the granting of relief and assistance to applicants; have power to pass upon and allow all applications by members or other persons for relief and assistance; provide a suitable seal for the Corporation; have power to appoint an Advisory Council; elect an Executive Committee of twelve (12) from the membership, of which the President, the several Vice-Presidents, and Treasurer, shall be ex-offioio members; keep a faithful and accurate report of all proceedings held by them; have power summarily to suspend any officer for misconduct or mal feasance in office for such time or term as they may see fit, and to fill any vacancy so created for the time being; shall fill any vacancy in the Executive Committee; in the event of death or resignation, inability to act or removal from office of any of the members of the Board of Trustees, the vacancy may be filled by the remaining members. Section 15.
The BOARD OF TRUSTEES shall have charge of
and supervision over the founding, building and maintenance of
a home Tor the aged and indigent persons, as provided in the Charter, under such rules and regulations as the Board of Trustees may establish* Section 16*
The EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE shall elect a
Chairman at the first meeting and shall have all the power and authority vested in the Board of Trustees during the interval between the meetings of said Board of Trustees, ex cepting that they shall not have the power to grant or allow any one applicant at any one time more than the sum of Two Hundred Fifty ($250.00) Dollars without first obtaining the approval of the Board of Trustees, and shall execute the orders and directions of the Board of Trustees, and shall keep a faithful and accurate report of all its proceedings and submit the same to the Board of Trustees at each of their meetings* Section 17*
The persons named in the Articles of In
corporation are, by virtue of said Articles, members of this Corporation* Section 18.
The EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE may admit as a
member of the Corporation any person whose interest in or connection with the motion picture business shall, in the judgment of the Executive Committee, be entitled thereto, on payment of the dues for one year* Section 19.
Out of the contribution or contributions
of each member for any calendar year, the sum of One ($1.00)
Dollar shall be credited to his membership dues.
failing to pay the One Dollar annual dues, or to contribute to the Fund for any calendar year, shall, unless specific action i3 taken to the contrary by the Board of Trustees or the Executive Committee,- cease to be a member for that year# All moneys received from annual dues either by way of contri butions, or otherwise, shall be placed in the Treasurer’s general fund to be used for relief purposes# Section 20#
Any person entitled to membership, oh pay
ment of Two Hundred and Fifty ($250.00) Dollars, may be ad mitted by the Executive Committee as a life member, who shall thereafter be free from payment of annual dues; provided, that the money paid for life memberships shall be set aside as a building fund; provided further, that no applications for life memberships shall be accepted after July 1, 1938.
of Trustees, or the Executive Committee, after July 1, 1938, shall have power to grant Honorary Memberships upon payment of Twenty-Five Hundred ($2,500#00) Dollars; the money derived from such Honorary memberships to be set aside and deposited in the building fund heretofore established. . No person shall have the right to vote at an election who has not been a mem ber in good standing for thirty (30) days before the election takes place, either by payment of the One ($1.00) Dollar mem bership fee or contribution to the Fund, or by reason of life or annual member ship•
203 Section 21*
On the death, in destitute circumstances,
of a person connected with the production of motion pictures, the Board of Trustees or Executive Committee may defray the expenses or his or her burial, and may give assistance to his or her family. Section 22.
The office of any member of the Board of
Trustees, or of the Executive Committee, failing to attend three consecutive meetings of said Board or Committee, may be declared vacant by the Board of Trustees; and the Board shall have power to fill said vacancies by appointing any other member of the Corporation a Trustee or member of the Executive Committee• Section 23.
For misconduct or malfeasance in office
on the part of any officer, the Board of Trustees or Executive Committee may prefer charges in writing against the accused, giving reasonable notice when the same will be investigated, and the Board of Trustees or Executive Committee may examine and try such charges, giving the accused the right to be heard. If the charges are heard by the Board, the Board will have power, on a two-thirds vote, to remove such accused; of heard by the Executive Committee, it shall refer its findings to the Board of Trustees, which Board shall then have power with out further examination to pass judgment thereon. Section 24.
Thirty (30) members shall constitute a
quorum at meetings of the members;
Nine (9) members shall
204 constitute a quorum of the Board of Trustees; Three (3) mem bers shall constitute a quorum of the Executive Committee and of all other standing Committees* Section 25.
The ANNUAL MEETING of the members of the
Corporation shall be held at such time and place as the Board of Trustees determine within the County of Los Angeles on the last Tuesday in June of each year.
The Board of Trustees
shall meet once every month, at such place as they may deter mine.
The Executive Committee shall meet at such place, with-
ing the County of Los Angeles, as it may determine, or whenever convened by the President or one of the Vice-Presidents, Chair man of the Executive Committee, or Secretary. Section 26.
At least fourteen (14) days before the
Annual Election nominations for Officers and Trustees shall be made as hereinafter provided.
They shall be posted in the
office of the Secretary of the Corporation at least seven (7) days before election, and no person shall be eligible to elec tion unless his name or her name is so posted.
must be in writing and may be made by the Board of Trustees or by any group of thirty members of the Corporation in good standing* Section 27.
SPECIAL MEETINGS of the members may be- con
vened by the Board of Trustees on giving at least five (5) days notice by mail to members.
Upon written demand of at least
fifty (50) members In good standing, filed with the President
205 or the Secretary, the President shall be required to call a special meeting of the members.
Special meetings of the
Board of Trustees may be convened by the President on twenty-* four (24) hours notice by mail, telephone, or telegraph, or on a written requisition of at least three (3) Trustees.
notice of such special meetings shall state the purpose for which such meeting is called, and no other business shall be transacted thereat than that contaihed in the notice. Section 28.
These By-Laws may be amended at the annual
meeting, or at any other meeting of the members called for that purpose, by the affirmative vote of two-thirds (2/3) of the members present; or, may be amended at any legally called meeting of the Board of Trustees, provided, that at least twenty-one (21) members of the Board of Trustees are present in person, and no amendment to the By-Laws shall be effective except by the affirmative vote of at least two-thirds (2/3) of the trustees present.
Adopted June 28, 1938.