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TV writer-producer bequeaths $10 million to needy

July 28, 2010 |  3:54 pm
Mickeyross The estate of Michael “Mickey” Ross, a prominent television writer-producer who died last year, has bequeathed more than $10 million to establish a fund to provide food, shelter, medical care and education for needy Southern Californians, the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles announced Wednesday.

The Michael and Irene Ross Endowment Fund also will receive 50% of all residuals from Ross’ television work, including from popular sitcoms such as “All in the Family,” “The Jeffersons” and “Three’s Company,” according to a statement from the foundation, which will administer the endowment.

Ross, who died in May 2009 at age 89, had no heirs and decided to give most of his fortune to Jewish causes. He donated $4 million to UCLA to endow an academic chair in Yiddish language and culture. He also gave $10 million to his alma mater, the City College of New York, to create Jewish studies programs and establish another Yiddish chair.

Ross became involved with the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles through its Family Foundation Center, which advises people on how to pursue their charitable goals. He created the endowment in memory of his wife and parents, the fund stated.

“Mickey Ross was a kind and humble man with a very inquisitive mind,” Marvin I. Schotland, the foundation’s president and chief executive, said in the statement.  “He had an abiding interest in helping people in need — regardless of their faith — and a deep affinity for the concept of Yiddishkeit (Jewish life) in the broadest sense.”

Grants from his endowment will begin in 2011 and will continue in perpetuity, Schotland said.

Ross grew up in poverty and had vivid memories of the Great Depression, according to his business manager, Mads Bjerre.  He was born Isadore Rovinsky in New York City in 1919 and served as a bomber pilot during World War II.  In the 1950s, he directed shows at a resort in the Adirondack Mountains and debuted as a TV director on "The Garry Moore Show."

-- Alexandra Zavis

Photo: Michael "Mickey" Ross is seen in 1981.