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Mattel Chldren's Hospital at UCLA and Neuropsychiatric Institute & Hospital at UCLA press release


"My green thumb came to me only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant's point of view." - H. Fred Ale


Press Article


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 UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center, The Mattel Children’s 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 nationwide.

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. It’s 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 Children’s 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.