Mattel Chldren's Hospital at UCLA and Neuropsychiatric
Institute & Hospital at UCLA press release
DESCENDANTS OF COMEDY LEGENDS LEND SUPPORT TO UCLA RESEARCH INTO BENEFITS OF
LAUGHTER IN ILL CHILDREN
Descendants of classic
comedians Charlie Chaplin, Lou Costello, W.C. Fields, Buster Keaton and Harpo Marx have
joined forces with entertainment industry colleagues and UCLA doctors to explore the
healing potential of humor in a unique partnership called Rx Laughter.
In this melding of medicine and comedy, researchers at UCLAs Jonsson Cancer Center,
The Mattel Childrens Hospital at UCLA and the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute and
Hospital have begun a research project that evaluates the immune responses of children to
laughter. If researchers find a positive biological response, classic TV and film comedies
could be incorporated into the care of ill children to ease stress during procedures such
as chemotherapy and to promote healing.
Sherry Dunay Hilber, a UCLA graduate and network television executive, created Rx
Laughter. As executive director, Hilber hopes to see the project expand into a comedy and
entertainment system for pediatric patients and adults at UCLA and other hospitals
Members of the Rx Laughter Advisory Board include actor Christopher Chaplin and Josephine
Chaplin, son and daughter of Charlie Chaplin; Chris Costello, daughter of Lou Costello;
Melissa Talmadge Cox, granddaughter of Buster Keaton; author/producer Ronald J. Fields,
grandson of W.C. Fields; and musician/composer Bill Marx, son of Harpo Marx. (A full list
of advisory board members is attached.)
"The thoughtful support of the families of these comedy giants, other members
of the entertainment and medical communities is extremely gratifying, Hilber said.
They are carrying forward a legacy of laughter that has entertained generations. Its
incredible to consider that this timeless work may ease the physical and emotional
pain of ill children."
Principal investigators for Rx
Laughter are Dr. Margaret Stuber, a UCLA cancer researcher and professor in the Department
of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, and Dr. Lonnie Zeltzer, UCLA cancer researcher,
professor of pediatrics and anesthesiology, and director of the Pediatric Pain Program at
Mattel Childrens Hospital at UCLA.
Funding for the five-year study comes in part through a $75,000 grant secured from the
cable TV network Comedy Central.
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