How We Got Here
Famous Fone Friends originated when a severely burned patient at Children’s Hospital, L.A. was encouraged to endure his painful hydrotherapy treatments with the promise of a phone call from the star of a popular break-dancing film. It quickly became apparent how the incentive of a phone call from this celebrity could become a program to serve thousands of seriously ill children all over the country.
Famous Fone Friends (FFF) was founded in 1986 by a group of Los Angeles IATSE, Local 884, Studio Teachers. (Studio Teachers are California teachers who teach academics to school-age actors while they are shooting a movie or filming a television show.) While working on these TV shows and films popular with children, studio teachers reach out to the actors (both minors and adults) on these shows to engage those who might like to participate. These enthusiastic FFF celebrities telephone children who are referred by doctors, child-life specialists and social workers at pediatric hospitals, throughout the country. The children are thrilled, their parents are extremely grateful, and the actors are enormously rewarded by how much joy they bring to all—the children, their parents and the children’s medical teams.
Famous Fone Friends is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization run completely by volunteers. Support comes from studio teachers and members of the community, with 100% of donations going toward services. Children receive phone calls, audio messages (from voice-over cartoon character actors to the little ones), video messages, and live chats from actors who they are so delighted to hear from. After each call, every child receives a script from a favorite TV show, and for the non-readers, a memento representing the cartoon character who calls. The goal of Famous Fone Friends is to put smiles on the faces of children dealing with difficult medical issues since its inception in 1986, FFF has achieved this goal over 25,000 times.