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100th Anniversary of Birth of AFTRA Founder
Celebrated in Podcast from AFTRA President

LOS ANGELES (November 17, 2006) -- In a new podcast recording available Nov. 20 on the AFTRA website, John P. Connolly, AFTRA National President, celebrates the 100th anniversary of the birth of founder of the union that evolved into the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

“This 100th anniversary of George Heller’s birthday is a cause for celebration of the life of a man whose vision and abilities helped build AFTRA,” said Connolly. “George Heller led performers from live theater to radio and television, creating more work opportunities for professional performers and protecting established union standards.”

Born November 20, 1906, Heller was an accomplished New York actor, singer, composer, and dancer who became active in Actors’ Equity Association in the 1930s. His work bringing together radio performers across the country led to the creation of the America Federation of Radio Artists in 1937. Heller later directed the Television Authority that merged with the radio performers’ union to create AFTRA in 1952. In 1954, Heller led negotiations with television producers to establish a multi-employer pension and welfare plan--the first of its kind among performers’ unions—which was later extended to AFTRA contracts on the national and local levels.

“His life is an important lesson on looking forward and facing our future head on,” Connolly said. “AFTRA members continue to follow George’s inspiring example as we forge new opportunities for performers, broadcasters, and recording artists on cable TV, interactive video games, music videos, audio books, webisodes, and all other forms of new digital and electronic media.”

Click here to access and download the podcast>>