Natalie Schafer started a trust for female comedic actors

The millionaire's wife from Gilligan's Island made sure her money went to good use after her passing.

Natalie Schafer became a household name as Mrs. Howell on Gilligan's Island. She was the wife of "the millionaire and his wife" in the theme song. When Gilligan premiered, she was in her sixties (though not many knew it, since Schafer was notoriously coy about her true age. Many fans and friends didn't find out her actual birth year until she passed!)

Though she only became widely recognized in later life, Schafer had been working hard for decades prior. She'd worked on Broadway, often in supporting roles, putting in the work even while she wasn't in the spotlight. In 1941, she moved to Los Angeles to try her hand in the movie business.

Schafer might not have gotten rich through show biz, but she had a good head on her shoulders and a knack for investing. She and her husband, fellow actor Louis Calhern, invested in Beverly Hills real estate when the getting was cheap. They divorced in 1942, but the investments made Schafer the only real-life millionaire on Gilligan's Island.

Still, even though she could live the high life now, she never forgot how it felt to be a young struggling female actor, especially in the comedy game, which had many more opportunities for men. 

When Schafer passed in 1991, her will had a clause that established the Natalie Schafer Annual Award Trust, to be presented each year to "an actress who has proven to be outstanding in the field of comedy in the legitimate theatre."

As The Los Angeles Times reported, per Schafer's will, "This award is to bring further attention to the individuals chosen, to enhance their careers and allow temporary financial security in this unique profession."

The final Natalie Schafer Emerging Comedic Actress award was given out in 2013, accompanied by a speech from Dawn Wells, Schafer's Gilligan co-star.

That wasn't all Schafer did with her money — upon her death, she bequeathed $2 million to the Motion Picture and Television Hospital, which renovated and renamed an outpatient wing in her honor.

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Bapa1 8 months ago
That is pretty cool. Very generous of her. I wonder if any of the actresses who won went on to success.
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