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Taking Names: Michael J. Fox participates in 9/11 charity day

- - Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Michael J. Fox did his part to make the anniversary of 9/11 about helping others.

The actor spent Tuesday participating in the Cantor Fitzgerald's Charity Day, along with a host of other celebrities. Cantor Fitzgerald, the financial firm that lost 658 employees in the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, has marked the anniversary of that day by raising funds for charities; this year, more than 100 are expected to benefit.

"This is not necessarily a somber event; I think this is more of a celebration, a celebration of humanity, and an acknowledgment of the needs of the people in the community," Mr. Fox said in an Associated Press interview Monday. "On a day when so many were affected by so few in such a negative way, it's a great way for so few to help the wider community in kind of reverse — the energy of that day, the negative energy of that day, with a positive show of support for the community."

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's research is among the day's beneficiaries. Mr. Fox has been afflicted by the disease for years, is a strong supporter of stem cell research and has lobbied in the District in his battle to eradicate Parkinson's.

"A lot of the needs were met of the people who were affected that day as much as they could be met beyond the lasting feelings that go on forever the fact that it as an impetus to branch out and to help other people in other communities and continue the spirit of generosity, of humanity, I think was really key in moving forward," Mr. Fox said.

Mr. Fox added that he was grateful for the support from the financial community: "I like to joke that Alex Keaton was the role model for so many of these guys, so maybe they had a special place in their hearts for me and my work," referring to the capitalist-loving "Family Ties" character that made him famous some three decades ago.

Prince William and Kate view Princess Diana orchids

Prince William and his wife, Kate, saw an orchid named for them and another for his late mother, Princess Diana, in Singapore on Tuesday, 15 years after she was to have viewed the flower herself.

Diana was due to visit the white orchid named in her honor in 1997 but was killed in a car crash two weeks earlier.

William stared at its delicate flowers, saying, "It's beautiful, it's beautiful."

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's visit to Singapore Botanic Gardens was their first stop on a nine-day tour of the Far East and South Pacific.

Manager Alan Tan Chye Soon said he was preparing for Diana's visit when the car crash occurred.

"It was so sad that she never saw it. It is one of our favorite orchids, and most popular," he said. "It was like William and Kate are fulfilling her promise today."

The royal couple also was shown an orchid with white and purple blooms that is jointly named for them.

Kate wore a pale floral dress to the event. She was carrying an orchid bouquet when she and William greeted staff and spectators at the historic Raffles Hotel later in the day.

The couple also will visit the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu in honor of the queen's Diamond Jubilee marking her 60 years on the throne.

Hanks, Leno, Wonder celebrate Duncan's life

Tom Hanks, Jay Leno, Holly Robinson Peete, Loretta Devine and Stevie Wonder were among those who helped celebrate the life of Michael Clarke Duncan during a nearly four-hour memorial service marked by heartfelt speeches, rousing gospel performances and photos of the always-smiling actor.

Mr. Hanks and Mr. Leno shared stories about "The Green Mile" star at Monday's service. Miss Peete talked about meeting Mr. Duncan while he was still a celebrity bodyguard. Miss Devine spoke of how the actor would do anything for a laugh.

Mr. Wonder appeared via video, solemnly playing piano and singing the opening verses of his life-affirming song "As" for the man he called "a gentle giant."

Mr. Duncan died Sept. 3 at 54, having never fully recovered from a July heart attack. His physician, who revealed Duncan used a pacemaker, was among the speakers at the service at Forest Lawn Memorial-Parks and Mortuaries in Los Angeles.

Former reality TV star the Rev. Omarosa O. Manigault, who was Mr. Duncan's fiancee, also attended along with Mr. Duncan's mother, sister and nephews.

Backed by a gospel choir, singers Angie Stone, Kelly Price, Kenny Lattimore and Abraham McDonald lent their voices to the private funeral. State Assembly Member Mike Davis and Los Angeles City Council President Herb J. Wesson Jr. also attended, with the council declaring Monday as "Michael Clarke Duncan Day."

Mr. Leno said he was touched by the actor's positivity and lack of cynicism.

"Just to see such a pure heart and pure kindness, and to see it taken so early," the comedian said, his voice cracking. "There are no sadder words than what might have been."

Mr. Leno said Duncan's sunny smile "grew another millimeter on each end" when he met Miss Manigault. The two had planned to marry in December.

Frank Darabont, director of "The Green Mile," called Duncan "a fierce warrior" and "the gentlest of souls."

"No one had a more positive spirit than Michael Clarke Duncan," he said.

Mr. Darabont also read a letter from Stephen King, author of "The Green Mile."

"No one has ever done a character I wrote more justice," Mr. King wrote.

Mr. Hanks teased his late co-star about his penmanship, which he described as "loopy and huge."

"It looks like a 12-year-old girl who loves horses wrote it," Mr. Hanks said.

He went on to tell a story of a young Mr. Duncan on the South Side of Chicago who one day decided he would join a gang. When he came home and told his mother, she whacked him in the head with a frying pan — a sizzling pork chop still inside — and told him to extract himself from the gang immediately.

Mr. Hanks impersonated the 6-foot-5-inch, 300-pound, deep-voiced Duncan sheepishly explaining to his fellow gang members that his mom wouldn't let him be in a gang.

"If it wasn't for that mama and the frying pan with a pork chop, we would not be here today celebrating the life of Michael Clarke Duncan," Mr. Hanks said.

Compiled from Web and wire reports