Australia's Hollywood stars dig deep for fire relief

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Feb 13 2009 01:03 PM | Updated as of Feb 13 2009 09:03 PM

MELBOURNE - Australian actor Nicole Kidman and her husband, country singer Keith Urban, have donated 500,000 Australian dollars (327,000 US) to victims of the bushfires which killed 181 people.

Australian Hollywood stars and sports legends joined forces late Thursday to help raise funds through a telethon which generated pledges of more than 20 million dollars for the fire relief effort, the Nine television network said.

"Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban led the way, personally donating 500,000 dollars to the Red Cross via the 'Australia Unites' telethon," it said on its website.

"The Aussie supercouple were joined by other Hollywood stars Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Naomi Watts, Rachel Griffiths and Simon Baker who sent recorded messages of support from the US."

Actor Anthony LaPaglia and his wife Gia Carides donated 50,000 dollars, it said, while Canadian singer Michael Buble also gave 50,000 dollars.

More than 5,000 people were made homeless and almost 2,000 homes were destroyed when the worst fires in the country's history tore through towns in southeastern Victoria state this week.

A Red Cross spokeswoman said almost 66 million dollars had been raised for the relief fund through public donations, but "many millions more" had been pledged through the telethon and corporate and government donations.