MPTF Responds, So We Do Too

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Tweeter Lisa Sinkko alerted me to a mass email coming from Bob Beitcher, WELL compensated President of MPTF, to people who have emailed him outraged about our request that 97 year old Baby Peggy aka Diana Serra Cary, get some help from MPTF.

His response was so childish and crass I personally feel a need to respond to his pointed so there’s.  I’d like to get the word out on this to show just how low a well paid man representing an organization set to HELP people feels to responds about a 97 year old woman.  A woman who gave her childhood and teen years to film and fame (not really by her choosing.)

My responses are in boldHis mass text is in Italic.  Since he included his contact information in the mass mailing I feel it is responsible to include them.  I urge people to contact him and let him know just how sickening his and the MPTF’s actions are.  I must state that I obviously do not know what every person who contacted him wrote, but I know the film community, I highly doubt it called for this kind of a response.  I guess asking for help of a 97 year old woman before Xmas constitutes being ‘rude’:

Contact: (818) 876-4155 f: (818) 876-1371 Bob.Beitcher@mptf.com www.MPTF.com

To all of you who have written me emails in the past few days about Diana Cary (Baby Peggy),
Thank you for taking the time and having the interest in and passion for Diana’s quality of life to compose these emails.  She is very fortunate to have you as her advocates and very well deserving of your respect and admiration.

Like most situations, there are two sides to the story, and you have heard one of them.  Based on this, you have expressed outrage, told me you’re appalled, accused MPTF of “turning its back,” told me of your disgust, called it “shameful,” repeatedly reminded me that we have no “institutional memory,” and basically threatened MPTF with a slew of negative publicity.  Perhaps hearing the other side of the story will cause you to reconsider your harsh judgement.  So please indulge me while I offer the second half of the story and perhaps you will think differently.

Do remember (not necessarily personal to him alone) this is the same organization that tried to close their hospital in 2010 and kick out members, much to the anger of the Hollywood community.  They did finally relent after months of bad press. There are other stories out there. I don’t think anyone is wrong in being suspicious of the goals of this organization after such actions.

MPTF is not the first or second needs-based support organization in our industry to turn down the request for in-home support for Diana.  We, like the other industry needs-based organizations, provide charitable support based on the financial needs of the individual requesting our help.  This is part of our charter with the Attorney General and the basis of our charity (like the other organizations),  and the basis upon which thousands of industry members are generous enough to contribute to MPTF to help  the thousands who we support in one way or another every year. 

They have provided no proof of the above claims (not the first, etc). If true its still shameful, following that kind of lead doesn’t make you less wrong. Diana is embarrassed enough this plea had to be made public, I don’t think she really would want every personal struggle broadcast.  To accuse a 97 year old woman of making up something or exaggerating her status is despicable.  Of course any and all applicants should be screened, but I personally know Diana should qualify based on her circumstances.

MPTF does not and cannot provide financial support based on standing as “living legend,” “star status,” “good, wise, kind, and inspirational,” number of credits, number of films, and so on.  These would be poor criteria for philanthropy and far afield from the original mission established by Mary Pickford and others, which was to help those in need — actors, writers, directors, editors, cinematographers, grips, costume designers, really anyone who built a career in the industry and has fallen on hard times. 

Umm that kind of thing is EXACTLY what Mary Pickford was going for.  She didn’t want someone who one day was an icon to have to beg for pennies the next.  Karl Dane bro.  This is not simply a woman who had sad circumstances occur to her (like Dane) or squandered her fame and fortune (so many but try Louise Brooks).  This is a woman who was brought into a career at 18 months old.  Her money was stolen before she hit puberty.  MPTF’s motto since Day 1 has been ‘We Take Care Of Our Own’.  How in the WORLD does this not qualify?

One of you suggested that Diana is “effectively not poor enough.”   Well, in fact she’s not poor by the measures the three charities supporting members of the entertainment industry use to evaluate such matters.  Given that we have limited financial resources and many calls on these every day, we have to direct our charity toward those most in need — not necessarily the oldest, the most famous, the most credited, the biggest star, the most legendary.  I hope this makes sense to you.

I’m pretty sure the ‘most oldest’ is likely the most in need, you don’t hit 97 and laze your days playing Candy Crush.  She’s lucky to be in as good as health as she is.  Surely there are younger people or sicker people in need.  They deserve help too.  But I don’t think making a 97 year old jump through hoops to prove herself to you is the most efficient use of anyone’s time.  I’m 28, I have a chronic illness.  I have to jump through hoops for my care and it tires me out to the point that it can take weeks to get it done and move on.  I can’t imagine being 97 and having to do this with no help.

Additionally, many of you, following the information you have gleaned online, have suggested that by denying Diana our support we have consequently denied her in-home care.  In fact, though,  Diana is already receiving in-home care through a family member living with her — and receiving free room-and-board. 

I’m very uncomfortable broadcasting her personal business but this paragraph is a bold faced lie.  She rents her home, living with her middle aged son and younger than 18 year old granddaughter.  Her son worked but now only takes care of his mother (so street corner here we come!), her granddaughter goes to school.  She needs care to get her doctor visits and now she needs care to get around.  So ‘in-home care’ sounds real cute, until you realize it means via her son who if he does not work there will be no alleged ‘free room and board’.  Diana, as stated, receives a small stipend from her work at a College Bookshop.  Mary Pickford herself campaigned in the 60s for social security to raise what they gave seniors, as many would go days without eating as they could not afford it and ‘did not qualify’ for anything else.  Again she’d be outraged.

She is not living alone without support!  Whatever loans and gifts she is taking from friends, we can only assume, are going to pay her family member. 

This and the above are where I personally feel this letter has gone off the rails.  He admits ‘we can only assume’ and then makes a claim she is paying her family to care for her.  He has no proof of this.  I guess healthcare is now free for all and never incurs costs via messy bills?  My medicine takes $4,000 a month and when the helping charities mess up, it leaves me up a creek.  I can only imagine being older like Diana and dealing with this.  Diana isn’t me, but one must only google to see how healthcare costs can go horribly wrong in the US even with medicare and such.

I’m not sure everyone knows or understands that.  Diana is in no danger of being homeless.  As she herself has noted, she has resources beyond her basic living expenses. 

Again untrue.  If Diana has no solid funding she is in danger of losing her living situation and care.  We all know this country does not guarantee employment.  One bad streak of luck and she’ll be in Downtown LA begging for pennies.  And ‘as she herself has admitted’.  No.  She stated the only income she has is her small pension and gifts she’s asked from others.  She never said that was MORE than her bare living.

The funding being requested from MPTF too (and the other industry-based organizations that have also rejected the proposal) is to pay that family member for the work being performed.  In all other  cases we have reviewed in our Community Social Services program similar to this, we view the free room-and-board (and other financial support being provided to this family member) as a quid pro quo for providing caregiving, unless the family member is doing this in lieu of another job, which he has now been forced to do.  I guess rent and food are free?

Diana herself has stated she wants funding to get her live in care so she can get around.  A family member can not do this and maintain an independent job without endangering both situations.  Her son has a child to support, he can not simply quit his job so MPTF can find some new reason to deny Diana.  If she is paying for her living costs, this is not free room and board.  This man could not be any more incorrect.

This may not be your understanding of Diana’s current condition.  You may be surprised to learn this since it is not how the situation has been represented online. 

I have known all the above from the first tweet onward.  It didn’t seem one should have to humiliate a 97 year old woman in public to get her care.  We have misrepresented NOTHING.  You sir, on the other hand, have.

We have offered to send in a geriatric social worker to assess her situation — this is the starting point for all “intake” into our social work/charitable financial assistance program — but until today (Saturday) our offer has been refused.  So we have no idea of what kind of in-home care Diana really needs.  (Do you really know?)  I hope you understand that this is not the way the process for a needs-based organization works.  

I have no information on her turning someone away, but she has stated clearly what her needs are (help getting around and maintaining a basic standard of living.)  I can’t imagine she was any vaguer in her own application to MPTF.

So like many other things, this situation is a lot more complex, much less black-and-white, than you might realize (and more complex than I can talk about without intruding on Diana’s private life) and our decision not to provide financial support for in-home care without further social work investigation is not a case of turning our backs, lacking compassion, failing to understand her place in film history, or anything else. 

This letter violated her private life by making wild allegations on her situation, in a manner she has no way to respond to.  She clearly did not want to make these nuisances public, but you sir decided to en masse to people who feel she deserves basic human decency.  How do you sleep on your huge paycheck while denying elderly people who have no other options?

Where there is a need, where we have had a social worker perform the necessary due diligence, we are there for industry members at the rate of $1 million a year just in charitable financial assistance.  (This does not take into consideration our financial support of industry members living on our campus and other community benefits we provide to the tune of over $20 million a year.)  But we can’t support industry members for the reason that, as one of you wrote, it wouldn’t be “a big burden” for us.  

Well maybe start with cutting your salaries.  Middle Class in LA is $150,000 a person.  You personally are about 7Xs over that.  Your board is rolling in money while being self righteous as to why elderly people don’t deserve care.  AND THEN YOU SAY MARY PICKFORD WOULD SUPPORT THAT!

Stay tuned as we try to move this forward as expeditiously as we can in a mission-based and needs-based process.  We are challenged every day to remain good stewards of the vision of our founders, including Mary Pickford, and the philanthropy of our donors, and this is just one more occasion where we have to review our guidelines to make certain that we are being equitable and reasonable and smart about allocating our charitable dollars appropriately.  

You’ve already trampled all over every claim here, denial must be nice.

I can’t close this email without reminding all of you so committed to the film industry and its seniors that we are supported through philanthropy from others like you.  Please visit us at www.mptf.com to learn more about MPTF and donate.

So we should forget Baby Peggy who you’ve basically called a greedy liar trying to funnel money to family members, but you know…subsidize your salary.  OK!

And once again, thanks so much to all of you for caring!

With warm regards and much appreciation,

Bob

Bob Beitcher | President & CEO

http://itsd.mptf.com/images/logo-horizontal.jpg
23388 Mulholland Drive M/S #200
Woodland Hills, CA 91364
t: (818) 876-4155
f: (818) 876-1371
Bob.Beitcher@mptf.com
www.MPTF.com

I strongly urge any decent human being to respectfully contact Mr. Beitcher in whatever manner they prefer and let him know we are not taken by this mass mail, and we will not rest until Diana has the care she needs.

UPDATE

Ron Hutchinson shared his email to Beitcher which provides more information.  They have proof Diana never denied home care, amongst other things:

UPDATE ON “BABY PEGGY” SITUATION

MPTF CEO and President Bob Beitcher sent out an response to those who sent him deservedly irate emails about Diana Serra Cary (Baby Peggy)’s plight. As you would expect, it is full of untruths and misrepresentations to cover the Fund’s shameful and shabby treatment of this 97 year old silent film star.

Obviously with the deluge of irate emails and pending press coverage, Beitcher was put in a corner. FYI here is the response I sent to him. Fortunately he has arranged FINALLY a social worker visit tomorrow and they MAY provide that needed service. The son cannot work as he is her sole caregiver full time. Here’s my response to Bob:

Bob,

As I understand that finally a social worker is being sent out to assess Diana’s true needs tomorrow, I will temper my comments.

Diana’s son does not work as 100% of his time is spent looking after her as is required. It is therefore impossible for him to hold even a part-time paying job. MPTF knows this but has ignored that fact conveniently. A social worker has never been offered, until yesterday.Actually last night. I believe a social worker is now coming out Monday (11/30/15) to finally assess her needs. She is more than open to having a social worker support her instead of her son. I sincerely hope that this can QUICKLY be addressed by you personally and provided.

If you are suggesting that she pays—through her miniscule income — for her own and son’s food and shelter and that this is wrong, that that is really ironic. Again, I will leave that alone if in fact your action to perhaps provide a social worker indeed occurs. Quickly

The statement that she has lots of money and has other income or donations is untrue, and even your statement is made as an assumption.

Please keep me informed of developments tomorrow and, more importantly, a positive resolution in at the very least providing Diana with an in-home social worker. Her words that “at 97, how long could it be?” are heartbreaking.

Because of POSSIBLE action, I have told reporters who were ready to do an article on this sad situation (LA TIMES, VARIETY, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, NY POST, NJ ADVANCE NEWSPAPERS) to hold off til they hear from me Tuesday. Also friends of two Board members.

You truly have the opportunity to do the right and moral thing here, Bob. That has not happened yet. If you were writing a script about this, think about it as the ultimate Scrooge story. Frail old woman, Christmastime, shabby treatment. All the elements.

But remember how the story ends.

Looking forward to hearing from you on the outcome.

Ron.

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