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Michael Douglas Honored at 2014 UNICEF Ball, Matt Damon Receives Surprise Award

Just two days after winning a Golden Globe for his role in HBO’s “Behind the Candelabra,” Michael Douglas received the Danny Kaye Humanitarian Peace Award on Tuesday evening at the 2014 UNICEF Ball, held at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

Douglas became a United Nations Messenger of Peace in 1998 and has been a part of nuclear disarmament efforts and other humanitarian endeavors throughout his involvement with UNICEF.

Douglas’s “Behind the Candelabra” co-star Matt Damon and producer Jerry Weintraub, who was honored at the 2009 UNICEF Ball, served as the event’s MCs and began the evening on a light-hearted note. The two joked about their relationship with Douglas and compared themselves to Golden Globes co-hosts Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. They also called attention to the work the UNICEF does to serve children in need all around the world. Damon recalled collecting coins as a young boy through UNICEF’s trick-or-treat initiative.

“It’s absolutely worth it,” Damon said.  “For the last 70 years, UNICEF has saved the lives of more children than other humanitarian organization in the entire world.”

Danny Kaye’s daughter, Dena, spoke about her father’s legacy as UNICEF’s first celebrity representative.

“He’d say ‘Den, children are the world’s most valuable natural resource,’” Kaye shared. “That’s exactly why we’re here tonight.”

Southern California Board Chair of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF Ghada Irani was also honored with the Danny Kaye Humanitarian Leadership Award.

When it came time to present Douglas with his prize, Damon joked, “And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for – the moment where we give Michael Douglas another award.”

In his acceptance speech, Douglas discussed Kaye’s legacy and the impact it had on him.

“Danny was the first person (in whom) I recognized the power of celebrity and how it could be used for good in the world,” Douglas explained. “He was beloved by all children of all ages. He was the perfect match for UNICEF.”

Much to Damon’s surprise, Douglas then presented him with a Danny Kaye Humanitarian Award for his efforts to combat the global water crisis through his organization Water.org.

Among the more than 600 guests in attendance were U.S. Fund for UNICEF President and CEO Carol Stern and celebrity UNICEF supporters including Alyssa Milano, Anna Kendrick, Tea Leoni, Laura Marano, James Marsden, Sylvester Stalone and Michael Sheen.

“Every night, there are children around the world who have a hard time going to sleep, not because they’re afraid of a possible monster in the closet, but because they face real monsters – abandonment, hunger, severe illness, abuse, the complete loss of childhood,” Stern said. “When a disaster strikes, like the recent typhoon in the Philippines or the conflict in Syria, the monsters grow,” she continued.

Stern also emphasized UNICEF’s “Believe in Zero” campaign, which focuses on creating a world in which no child dies of preventable causes.

Following the dinner, Douglas and Irani were serenaded by singer Paul Anka with a personalized version of his hit song “My Way,” a live auction was held, and Kristin Chenoweth also performed three songs.

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