I just submitted my first Salvatori Center timesheets for this past week. The pay isn't too great, but that isn't the reason I took the job. Here's the link on conservative philanthropists.
Among those whose cherished causes tend to be on the conservative or free-market side, the Californian most sought after by fundraisers is now gone. Henry Salvatori died in July 1997 at the age of 96.
The son of Italian immigrants, Salvatori settled in Depression-ridden Los Angeles in 1933. He borrowed money from the Bank of America and invested his life savings of $9,000 in an oil exploration company. By the time he sold Western Geophysical to Litton Industries in 1960, Salvatori’s company was a multimillion dollar titan in the oil industry and he was among California’s richest.
Salvatori never failed to tell visitors to his Century City office how indebted he was to the adopted country in which he thrived. Accordingly, he devoted much of his time and resources to advancing causes that promoted the American tradition and the free market, in addition to other charitable endeavors. The goal of his generosity, according to Claremont Institute president Larry Arnn, was "to study and teach the American Founding to teachers, students and citizens."
Salvatori endowed programs at the conservative Claremont Institute, Intercollegiate Studies Institute and Heritage Foundation. He also was a major benefactor of Claremont McKenna College, Pepperdine University, the University of Southern California and Good Samaritan Hospital. Joined by Grace, his wife of 52 years and co-chair of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Salvatori was a major backer of the arts in Los Angeles.
He is perhaps best-known as a pivotal figure in launching the political career of Ronald Reagan. It was Salvatori who in October 1964 convinced Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater to allow actor Reagan to give a nationally televised address on Goldwater’s behalf. Salvatori raised the funds necessary to broadcast Reagan’s half-hour testimonial. The program, titled "A Time for Choosing" (also known as "The Speech" among Reagan enthusiasts), generated more donations to Goldwater’s campaign than to any political campaign in the history of television. It immediately sparked calls for Reagan himself to seek public office.
Two years later, Salvatori chaired the committee of fellow California business leaders that raised the early "seed money" for Citizen Reagan to run for governor. The rest, as they say, is history.
Widely mourned among conservatives for his generosity and devotion to advancing their cause, Salvatori’s passing last year also prompted fresh questions: Would there be anyone like him again? At a time when the political climate in California appeared to be moving to the Left, despite the full bloom of several conservative institutions in the state, would there be another Californian for whom the terms "philanthropist" and "conservative true believer" were not mutually exclusive?