While G.W. Bailey has tackled myriad roles in his lengthy career—from the lackadaisical Sgt. Rizzo on the TV series M*A*S*H, to the hilarious Capt. Harris in the Police Academy films, to his current turn as Louie Provenza on TNT’s Major Crimes—none has been as meaningful as being the executive director for the Sunshine Kids. This nationwide nonprofit adds quality of life for children with cancer by providing exciting group activities so they can have fun like other kids. Bailey will carve out time from his hectic schedule to attend Sunshine Kids’ events in Naples and Fort Myers this month. The versatile actor and doting grandfather took a break from lunch with his grandson to talk with us about his career and the Sunshine Kids.
Along with several cast mates from Major Crimes, G.W. Bailey will take part in the Sunshine Kids’ Naples events Starry Starry K’Night Gala, November 19, at LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort, and the Day of Sunshine Celebrity Golf Classic, November 20, at Bonita Bay Club—for more information, click here. Guests can also rub elbows with the celebs at the Evening With the Stars and After Party with the Stars, November 21, at The Club at Renaissance, Fort Myers—for more information, click here.
NI: How did you discover your passion for the Sunshine Kids?
Bailey: You only have to meet one kid fighting cancer and see him smile, and then that’s it. You are hooked. Our organization makes a positive impact and gives kids who are fighting for their lives a respite to smile and have fun. I got involved through my goddaughter Brandy Aldridge. The organization was about three years old when she went on a SSK ski trip, and it completely changed how she dealt with her cancer battle. We lost her, but for five years, the quality of her life was as good as it could be because of the friends she made. When she was 12, she asked me to come to Colorado for a trip. During one of the activities, what I saw forever changed my life. It was the first time I’d seen 30 kids with cancer, all in the same place, all laughing, having this exuberant celebration of life. I started as a volunteer, and now I am the executive director.
Comedy or drama?
Drama is just so much easier. At this age, I’m all about comfort levels, and comedy is so hard. You have to really work at it to make it seem spontaneous. Generally, we all cry at the same thing: Loss of a loved one, or of a love affair, if our child is ill, or we lose a child. We all, even within cultures, laugh at different stuff. There are a few basics, like slipping on a banana peel. That’s funny because it’s someone else’s discomfort and that’s pretty universal.
What about you would surprise people?
I’m very proud, and I’ll get teary-eyed if I’m not careful, that I take such great care of my family, especially my grandkids. We have a special relationship. Have I spoiled them? Hopelessly, horribly. I say this unashamedly, they are very lucky that I’m their grandfather. If I’ve learned anything with Sunshine Kids over 30 years, it’s that life is an eye blink, so during that blink, we have responsibility to make it as strong and positive an experience as possible.