Former resident throws lifeline to Stewart museum
Jan 21, 2013 (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Sometimes, angels arrive carrying an original copy of "Tom Sawyer" and the ability to grant a wish born of despair. Other times, they throw a lifeline in the form of an annual $25,000 donation.
That's what Bridgeville native Ken Schultz is doing for the Jimmy Stewart Museum in Indiana, Pa., even as he's made a multimillion-dollar pledge in honor of the late actor to the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures scheduled to open in Los Angeles in 2016.
"It means a great deal," Timothy Harley, director of the Stewart museum, said of the gift from Ken and his wife, Carol, of the Schultz Foundation. "It will ease the annual budget pressures that were becoming, about two years ago, almost insurmountable for the museum."
Mr. Schultz, who made his mark in technology companies dealing in wireless communications, semiconductors and solar power, "sort of retired early" from corporate life and formed a family foundation with his wife, a native of Rostraver.
He read about the museum's struggle to keep the doors open in the Wall Street Journal in late 2010, and, after supporting the UCLA Film & Television Archive and learning more about the proposed Academy Museum, he decided to also join backers of the first major American museum dedicated exclusively to the history and ongoing development of movies.
"We really liked the fact the Academy had a museum concept that was not like a traditional museum in the sense that it's not going to be just filled with a bunch of nice old movie posters. It's really going to be a platform for educating people about all facets of filmmaking," he said in a phone call this week.
The LA museum is designed to explore the art, science and magic of the movies, examine their impact on culture, and inspire and delight movie lovers.
That jogged his memory about the Stewart Museum, and he met with members of the late actor's family, which led to the dual donations. "We decided to make our [LA] contribution in the memory of James Stewart," he said, "and we specifically asked that we honor his commitment to education and to country, as well as what he did with film."
A wall in the future education center, along with some artifacts, will salute the actor who won an Oscar for "The Philadelphia Story" and also received an honorary award for 50 years of memorable performances and for high ideals on and off the screen.
The $25,000 from the Schultz Foundation, based in Arizona, matches the contribution from the Stewart family to the Indiana tourist attraction.
Mr. Schultz, a 1984 electrical engineering graduate of the University of Pittsburgh who has homes in San Diego, Los Angeles, Scottsdale and Upper St. Clair, credits Rege Cordic with providing his earliest movie education through his Sunday afternoon matinees on WTAE-TV.
"Rear Window" might be the couple's favorite film, but Mr. Schultz has a fondness for "Vertigo" and "The Spirit of St. Louis," too.
When he visited the Indiana museum in the fall, he was charmed by the circular red-leather booth from the now-gone Chasen's restaurant and photos of the family's Tudor home in Beverly Hills, which dovetailed with Mr. Schultz's interest in architecture.
The Ken and Carol Schultz Foundation has supported a number of other projects in Pittsburgh, including the Pitcher Park Memorial Skatepark being built in Carnegie Park.
Mr. Schultz, the son of a golf course superintendent and a bank teller, still has family in Pittsburgh, including his brother, David, who owns and operates Legacy Lanes in Baldwin Borough. It has a new rewards program aimed at helping local charities raise funds for their causes.
Although many TV viewers know Mr. Stewart from his holiday classic, Mr. Schultz says, "What do we really want to give people here in supporting that museum He's an example of somebody who really believed that giving back to the community, his country and family was the essence of living a wonderful life, and it is."
For more information about the museum, at 835 Philadelphia St. in Indiana, see www.jimmy.org.
Movie editor Barbara Vancheri: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1632. Read her blog: www.post-gazette.com/madaboutmovies.
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