Robert Hays Antes in for SAG Foundation Poker Fundraiser

August 13, 2014 | by Dave McNary

Rumack: Can you fly this plane, and land it?

Ted Striker: Surely you can’t be serious.

Rumack: I am serious … and don’t call me Shirley.

Robert Hays is quick to admit he’s more than OK with being remembered primarily as Ted Striker in “Airplane!”

“My dad was a fighter pilot, and I love to fly,” he told Variety. “I got my license before I did ‘Airplane!’ while I was on(TV series) ‘Angie.’ ”
With Hays as host of the SAG Foundation’s signature event — its annual Poker Classic fundraiser— it’s only natural that the location this year is the Museum of Flying in Santa Monica, next to the airport where Hays got his flying license four decades ago.

Proceeds from the Aug. 23 fundraiser will benefit the foundation’s Don LaFontaine Voice-Over Lab, a facility that has a strong connection for Hays, who met LaFontaine in the early  ’80s: “I introduced myself to Don, who was a remarkable talent, and he told me he had done the trailer for ‘Airplane!’ ”

The Poker Classic launched four years ago at thesp Joe Cipriano’s home in Bel Air, then moved to L.A.’s Gilmore Adobe for the next two years, with attendance hitting more than 300 in 2013. The three events — attended by the likes of Elliott Gould, Dennis Haysbert, Powers Boothe and Jeff Garlin — have raised about $500,000.

Cipriano is a co-founder of the lab with Paul Pape, a SAG Foundation board member. Pape says the idea for the fundraiser grew out of a long-running game he was in with La Fontaine and Ted Lange, Greg O’Neal and Lorin Dreyfuss.

“Don gave so much to this industry, and through events like this, he’s able to keep on giving — I know he’d be pleased. Especially when we run the ‘Airplane!’ trailer featuring his voice and Hays’hair!”

SAG Foundation President JoBeth Williams notes that although the foundation is 30 years old, the poker fundraiser has become a signature event for the organization. “So many actors use the lab and the event has become so popular, above and beyond the voiceover community,” she added.