If you were between the ages of 4 and 10 in 1995, A Little Princess was magical. The film drew influence from the 1939 Shirley Temple classic and the original 1905 novel, which followed the tale of Sara Crewe, an imaginative young girl at the mercy of a boarding school headmistress after her father is killed abroad. The 1995 version added some extra "all little girls are princesses" refrains, and bundled a locket with the VHS edition. We obviously couldn't resist.
Playing Sara Crewe in 1995 was Liesel Matthews, a stage name for Liesel Anne Pritzker. But where is she now?
Liesel, who added a "Simmons" to the end of her name after getting hitched, is an heiress to the Hyatt Hotels fortune. While she hasn't been in the Hollywood spotlight since starring as Alice Marshall in Air Force One, she made headlines briefly in the mid-2000s when she sued her own family for $6 billion, claiming that her father and cousins looted her and her brother's trust funds. After the family fortune got redistributed, Liesel got $500 million out of the deal.
"This is not about the cash," she told Forbes at the time. "I filed because I wanted to know what happened."
After winning the lawsuit, she traveled for a bit to get out of the spotlight — and started volunteering in India and then Tanzania. Now, she puts that money to good use.
She and her husband Ian Simmons pour their wealth into "socially responsible investing," according to a Forbes profile last month, devoting much of that money to infrastructure where aid is needed — like waste management in Ghana, or affordable housing in Kenya. Her day job is director of program development for the IDP Foundation, which makes "sustainable investment[s] in educational initiatives." The foundation was founded by Liesel's mom with money from the settlement.
"I didn't earn this money," she said. "And I'll be damned if I'm going to screw it up."
That's a pretty refreshing attitude toward wealth! More power to this little princess, who is totally making things happen.
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