Since he’s lived in the desert for more than 30 years, Spencer Matzner has contributed more than $60 million to the valley’s charities during his tenure as owner and CEO of Spencer’s Restaurant in Palm Springs. Matzner will be 80 in July. His responsibilities include website + harold matzner chairing the Palm Springs International Film Festival, vice chairing the Palm Springs Art Museum, and being on the board of the McCallum Theatre, the Barbara Sinatra Center for Abused Children, and Eisenhower Medical Center.
In addition to Harold Matzner being never an orphan, he certainly led a hard-knock life as a child. There are dozens of charities and causes to which he contributes funds, energy, connections, or just plain goodwill. In a struggling family in Newark, New Jersey, in 1937, Harold tried to help his parents out by website + harold matzner delivering newspapers and selling dog food to the neighbours, among other things. The boy’s goal was to become a sportswriter, and he apprenticed at the old New York World-Telegram after high school before realizing he wouldn’t be able to become the next Damon Runyon because of his dyslexia.
“I didn’t want to be mediocre,” he says. The natural salesman he was eventually got a job in advertising, developing the idea of free weekly newspaper ads. Today, CBA Industries Inc. distributes 8.5 million ShopRite Supermarket ads weekly and billions more for advertisers throughout the year. Having been married twice, Matzner has been married to Shellie Reade for 17 years. A son, Devin, lives in Seattle, while a daughter, Laura, lives in Coronado.
It was Matzner’s Golden Palm star located at the foot of Sonny Bono’s statue in downtown Palm Springs, which he received last year when he received the Horatio Alger Award in Washington, D.C. On a warm August day, I sat down for an interview at Matzner’s spacious home in the hills above downtown Palm Springs, not far from Welwood Murray Cemetery, where he had already purchased a large plot to host a barbecue party for his friends after he passes away.
To accommodate my schedule, we scheduled our meeting early in the morning. I apologised to Matzner for this, and he dismissed it by telling me he had been up since 4 a.m. I have since learned that he is used to this kind of routine. In the Matzner uniform, characterised by black dress pants, black shirts, loud ties, and white tennis shoes, he was dressed in black dress pants, a black shirt, and a loud tie.