A Star of This Long-Running Crime Drama Gives to a Range of Causes

Actor Sam Waterston, 75, is still going strong with a long career in theater, film and television. He was nominated for an Academy Award for 1984's The Killing Fields, but is likely best known for his role as Jack McCoy on the long-running police and legal procedural TV drama Law & Order.

Eighty-eight to 100 episodes is usually the magic number for syndication, but this entertainment mainstay soared well past that, running from 1990 to 2010, making it TV's longest-running hourlong primetime show. And that's not even counting all of L&O's spinoffs. It's unclear how much Waterston himself has raked in from these residuals, or what he's currently worth, though one estimate put his net worth at $15 million. In 2005, NYMag claimed the actor earned $2.5 million in salary. 

Waterston has directed some of his wealth to philanthropy, establishing the Waterston Family Foundation in 2007 with his wife Lynn and family. The Waterstons, via their foundation, support a range of causes.

One area of interest is the environment. Waterston is on the board of ocean conservation organization Oceana, an interest which he says has a lot to do with growing up and living in the Northeast: "I've loved the ocean all my life... as a New Englander, I've seen the nasty effects of fisheries collapses on the life of seaside towns. Scientists now warn us that unless we do something, the world is on a path to global fishery collapses by mid-century, a calamity of mind-boggling proportions we can still avert." The actor, by the way, was born in the college-rich city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, but headed about two hours away to attend Yale. 

The Waterstons are also interested in the arts and have supported institutions like Public Theater, where Waterston sits on the board, Actors Fund of America, American Theatre Wing and Ballet Tech Foundation. The family is a steady supporter of Refugees International. Waterston has served on the board of Refugees International for some 25 years. 

Waterston is Episcopalian and grantees include Chapel of All Saints, Bishops Fund for Children, Episcopal Charities, Episcopal Social Services, and St. John's of Divine in Morningside Heights, Manhattan, the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. 

For a complete overview of this funder, read our profile of Sam Waterston linked below. 

Related: Sam Waterston