Meryl Streep has given back to the performing arts institution that helped start her career, announcing last week a $1 million gift to New York's Public Theater

 

The donation came last week during a private reception celebrating the Theater's $40-million renovation of its Astor Place home. The 63-year-old Academy Award-winner says she made the gift in honor of her mentor, founder Joseph Papp, as well as the late writer-director Nora Ephron

 

Ephron, who was a board member for the theater and one of its most ardent supporters, was remembered by Streep in June as "an expert in all the departments of living well."

 

"You could call on her for anything: doctors, restaurants, recipes, speeches, or just a few jokes, and we all did it, constantly," she wrote in an email to the New York Times. "Nora just looked at every situation and cocked her head and thought, ‘Hmmmm, how can I make this more fun?'"

 

Streep's early performances at the Public Theater included "Trelawny of the Wells" in 1975 and "Henry V" in 1976. More recently, she performed a reading opposite Kevin Kline of "Romeo and Juliet" at the organization's 50th anniversary gala.

 

"Meryl is as great a citizen as she is an actor," Public Theater Artistic Director Oskar Eustis said. "Joe Papp founded the Public in the belief that great theater belonged to all the people. It means an enormous amount to us that the greatest actor of our time supports that mission."

 

Over the last few years, Streep and her husband, Don Gummer, have quietly given away millions to charities, performing arts venues and schools. Examples include $2 million to Vassar College, $200,000 to the National Women's Museum, and $100,000 to Oxfam America.

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