Hal Taussig wears baggy jeans and fraying work shirts that Goodwill might reject. His shoes have been resoled three times. He bought his one suit from a thrift shop for $14.
At age 81, he doesn’t own a car. He performs errands and commutes to the office by bicycle.
He lives on the outskirts of Media in a narrow wood-frame house that was built for mill and factory workers.
And he has given away millions.
Given the fortune that Taussig has made through Untours, his unique travel business, and has given away through the Untours Foundation, you could call him the Un-millionaire. If he so chose, he could be living in a Main Line mansion and driving a Mercedes. But he considers money and what he calls “stuff,” beyond what he needs to survive, a burden, an embarrassment.
“He really walks the talk,” says Judy Wicks, owner of the White Dog Cafe and a fellow member of the Social Venture Network, which applies capital to enterprises that reduce poverty and advance social justice.
“A lot of people donate money to the less fortunate but live in high style themselves. Hal sacrifices in his own life by living very simply in order to have more money to give away.”
In many respects, he’s a 21st-century Thoreau. “Let your capital be simplicity and contentment,” the sage of Walden Pond wrote. “Those are my sentiments precisely,” says Taussig, who has three children, five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren…
…”If capitalism is good, it should be good for the poor,” Taussig declares. “I invest in entrepreneurial efforts to help poor people leverage themselves out of poverty.”
* Charles Grodin has never been asked back to host after he gave a clumsy performance. In October 1977, on his one appearance on the show, Grodin missed rehearsal, stumbled his way through the show, and ad-libbed many of his lines.
* On December 17, 1977, Elvis Costello and the Attractions performed as a last-minute replacement for the Sex Pistols, who were unable to obtain passports. NBC and the show’s producer Lorne Michaels didn’t want the band to perform “Radio Radio”, since the song protests the state of the media. The band defied them by beginning to play their song “Less Than Zero”, stopping, with Costello telling the audience that there was no reason to do that song, and telling the band to play “Radio Radio” instead. It infuriated Michaels because it put the show off schedule, and the band were barred from performing again.
* Chevy Chase was banned from hosting the show again after the February 15, 1997 episode due to his verbal abuse of the cast and crew during the week. Chase became notorious for his treatment of certain cast members when hosting past episodes, particularly his remarks to openly gay cast member Terry Sweeney.
Note: In 1985, Chase suggested that a perfect skit for Sweeney would be one in which he plays an AIDS victim who gets weighed every week. Chase’s abusive behavior during the 1985 episode and other episodes are detailed in the Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live book.