Bea Arthur, Legendary 'Golden Girl,' Leaves Gift to Local HIV/AIDS Organization

Showbiz Icon’s $25,000 gift unexpected

(Irvine, Calif. – December 23) – AIDS Services Foundation Orange County (ASF) was surprised last week with a legacy gift from an old friend of the agency, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Famer, Bea Arthur. ASF learned of the $25,000 gift from Arthur’s son, Matt Saks.

Arthur, who died in April 2009, was a longtime supporter of ASF. Co-founders Al Roberts and Ken Jillson befriended Arthur many years ago and later approached her about doing a character voice over for their Laguna Beach “Big Splash” backyard charity show. She eagerly accepted their invitation and became an ASF star volunteer for many years.

Upon receiving news of the gift, Jillson commented, “I can’t believe it. After all these years she’s still doing wonderful things for ASF.” The Splash writer/director continued, “Her legacy goes far beyond this gift. Bea’s involvement opened the door for other celebrities including Jack Lemmon, Lauren Bacall, Walter Matthau, Whoopi Goldberg, Kirk Douglas, Cher and Dolly Parton. They all volunteered and helped sustain the Big Splash for its 25-year run. And the Big Splash raised millions of dollars and helped sustain ASF.”

The gift comes at just the right time for the agency. Like most AIDS service organizations in the country, AIDS Services Foundation is struggling to maintain its full complement of services for its clients. The elimination of HIV education funding alone from the California state budget left a half million dollar hole in the agency’s $5 million budget.

ASF is currently nearing conclusion of its annual year-end campaign. The campaign is intended to raise the much needed funds to help cover general operating expenses, although gifts can be designated for specific programs as well. Donations are accepted online at, by mail at 17982 Sky Park Circle, Ste J, Irvine, CA 92614 or by calling the agency at (949) 809-5700.

ASF is a nonprofit organization founded in 1985 by a small group of dedicated volunteers. Annually, the agency assists more than 1,600 men, women and children affected by HIV/AIDS. Among the services ASF provides are food, transportation, housing, emergency financial assistance, mental health counseling, HIV testing, and HIV prevention and education programs. To learn more about ASF go to

Media Contact: Marc Montminy, ASF 949-809-8766

Ken Jillson Contact:


  • 17982 Sky Park Circle
  • Suite J
  • Irvine, CA 92614-6482


  • AIDS Services Foundation Orange County
  • (PHONE) 949-809-5700
  • (FAX) 949-809-5779


  • Monday through Friday
  • 8:30 am to 5:00 pm