I have been trying to get in touch with Mickey Ross, the producer and writer on such iconic television shows as “All in the Family,” “The Jeffersons” and “Three’s Company,” who over the past several months has given away some $14 million to UCLA and the City College of New York to build up their Jewish Studies programs.
Unfortunately, I found out Thursday that the 89-year-old Ross would not be able to speak. I spoke with a confidant and legal adviser of the writer-turned-philanthropist who said that Ross is not doing very well and has had several strokes in the recent past.
But, said Ross’ friend, who did not want to be identified, more gifts might be on the way. Ross has no heirs, his wife Irene passed away several years ago, and, his friend said, Ross intends to “leave more than 90 percent of his assets to Jewish charities.” He said that much of the remaining gifts could go to Yiddish projects. The previous two gifts both involved Yiddish components. Part of the $10 million gift to City College included endowing a Yiddish chair, and the $4 million to UCLA was specifically to endow a Yiddish chair.
Ross, who was born Isidore Rovinsky, grew up in a Yiddish-speaking home he has said was permeated by “the essence of Yiddishkeit.”
According to his friend, Ross is still lucent, and is still making his own decisions.
Ross was never particularly religious, but “he loves to speak Yiddish,” said the friend.