Sally Struthers said she stopped her work with Save the Children after guerilla fighters threatened to kill her and others while on a mission trip in Africa. The All in the Family star explained what happened on the most recent episode of WTF with Marc Maron podcast.
Struthers was the face of the Save the Children Fund for years. The charity helps feed and educate poor children around the world. The charity’s commercials made her as famous as her work on shows like All in the Family and The Gilmore Girls. They also made her the butt of a lot of cruel jokes, as well.
Comedians would often pick on the actress’s weight or appearance, but she said she wasn’t laughing.
“Besides, everyone in the world is making fun of me,” Struthers said. “I could never understand that from the first time I found out some comic or another made fun of me and then a greeting card was on sale somewhere making fun of me. It dumbfounded me that if you’re trying to help hungry children, you’re fodder for horrible, cruel jokes. What’s wrong with the world?”
Maron said it was less about her and more about how the commercials were “inescapable.”
However, she endured the mockery because she knew the good it was doing. But there was a moment she decided to quit.
Struthers Says She Was Nearly Killed by Gunmen
Sally Struthers told Maron that the incident began when she flew to Uganda with a priest who was working with the organization. They were going to an area near Lake Victoria to meet a child she had sponsored.
“They brought [the child] from his village, which was quite a few hours away. He had traveled to come to meet his sponsor, to meet me, and I made some commercials with him, and I played with him and I brought him toys and balloons,” the All in the Family actress said. “Well, a roving band of guerrilla warfare guys came out of the bushes and asked [him] where he was from, and he named his village, which was far away, and they decided that we had kidnapped him, and they were going to shoot all of us.”
Luckily, the priest spoke the gunmen’s language and was able to explain the situation. But he made it clear that she should immediately go back to the car without turning her back on them.
“I thought, ‘I’ve been on so many little airplanes that could have crashed and in so many horrible situations.’ I came back from one of my trips overseas with hepatitis.” Struthers said. “I thought, ‘What am I doing? I’ve got a child, a real-life child of my own, and I’m gonna make her an orphan. I can’t do this anymore.'”