At the gala are (from left): Sumner M. Redstone, executive chairman of Viacom and CBS Corporation; singer Tony Bennett; David B. Agus, director of the USC Westside Cancer Center and the USC Center for Applied Molecular Medicine; and Nobel Laureate Murray Gell-Mann, presidential professor of physics and medicine at USC.(Photo by Donald Norris)
By Imelda Valenzuela Fowler
A media titan and a Nobel Laureate were honored, two music icons performed, an Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning comedian emceed and over $3.6 million was raised at the recent Rebels with a Cause, Visionaries and Revolutionaries Transforming Cancer Research gala.
The event was held in support of the lifesaving research and clinical care of David B. Agus, director of the USC Norris Westside Cancer Center and the USC Center for Applied Molecular Medicine.
Rebels with a Cause was named in honor of actor Dennis Hopper, a former Agus patient who appeared in the motion picture of a similar name. Hopper died in May 2010 of prostate cancer.
“Dennis Hopper was one of my inspirational heroes,” said Agus. “Obviously Rebels with a Cause is something we truly believe in. Dennis was like the people we are honoring tonight, on the frontier fighting against cancer, and in my mind, they are all rebels.”
Sumner M. Redstone, executive chairman of Viacom and CBS Corporation, and Nobel Laureate Murray Gell-Mann, presidential professor of physics and medicine at USC, were both honored as the first “rebels” at the inaugural fundraiser held Sept. 19 at the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. Redstone has donated over $27 million toward Agus’ research and clinic at USC.
The gala featured special guest performances by Tony Bennett and Neil Young.
Actress and comedian Tracey Ullman, whose husband is a patient of Agus, served as emcee. “David gave us a psychological boost,” said Ullman. “He always treats my husband with respect, and he’s mindful of his pride and dignity,” she said amid tears.