Founded in 2000, the non-profit Jester & Pharley Phund developed from the overwhelming national response to David Saltzman’s illustrated children’s book The Jester Has Lost His Jingle.

This year, The Jester Has Lost His Jingle celebrates its 25th anniversary, with more than 445,000 copies in print.

The Jester was David’s senior project at Yale University. Before his death from cancer at 22 in 1990, his family promised him that his book would be published as he envisioned it and that its universal message of hope, laughter and self-empowerment would be shared with children coping with cancer and other illness.

We are proud of the many accomplishments and awards given to The Jester and our programs benefiting ill children and literacy.

The Jester Book Cover

Our Family Story

David’s family bypassed the major publishing houses and chose to take the more difficult, expensive and time-consuming route of publishing The Jester Has Lost His Jingle themselves. “We wanted to make sure that David’s work received the attention to detail and commitment to quality in its production that David brought to its art and words,” says David’s brother, Michael (Yale, ’86). “And that takes a level of time, dedication and care that we felt only we could give it.”

Sendak & Saltzman: David Meets His Hero

David & Maurice Sendak

“Hi Barbara, This is Maurice.”

That brief greeting on a Sunday morning in late 1994 was my personal introduction to Maurice Sendak.

I read Sendak’s works endlessly to both my youngest son, David, and his older brother, Michael, when I first discovered the incomparable writer and artist. David loved to draw and tell stories from the time he was little. He especially loved Sendak’s whimsical, wicked and imaginative drawings – whether for the books he wrote or for those he illustrated for others, such as What Do You Say, Dear?

David’s mother, Barbara Saltzman, adds, “We wanted to publish the book ourselves to ensure that it would be printed with the quality of a fine-arts volume, that it will always remain in print and will be made available to the children David wanted to reach.” The Saltzmans established The Jester Co., Inc., in 1994 as a family corporation to make David’s book a reality.

With the formation of The Jester & Pharley Phund non-profit organization in 2000, David’s dream of bringing hope and joy into the lives of millions of ill and disadvantaged was realized. As a family, the Saltzmans have had broad experience in media. Barbara Saltzman was an editor at the Los Angeles Times for 22 years, where she edited the daily Calendar section entertainment pages and TV Times magazine.

David’s father, Joe, a professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California, is an award-winning documentary television writer-producer. He is also founder of the Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture, a Project of the USC Norman Lear Center.

David’s brother, Michael, has been a writer/producer in television for 30 years. Shows he has worked on include “Wings,” “Murphy Brown,” “Mad Men,” “Hell on Wheels,” “Halt and Catch Fire,” and “The Boys.”

Publication of David’s book took a tremendous amount of effort, but Michael says there was never a question in his family’s mind about doing it. “Losing David has affected all of us greatly,” he recalls. “David was an incredibly loving and radiant personality who touched a number of lives. By publishing his book, we hoped to allow him to touch many more.”

David wrote in the journal he kept while coping with Hodgkin’s disease that friends and family might feel pain at his passing, but that he would be “like a seed planted in all of them and when they think of me, my memory, my spirit, I would blossom again, live again, be with you again, love you again and be alive within you.” Michael suggests that The Jester Has Lost His Jingle is one of the many seeds planted by David. “We just had to nurture it.”

“It’s been many years since David’s death, and there are a lot of people who know me, but never met him. When they ask me about David, I can point to his book and say, ‘There he is. That’s David.’ My daughters got to know him through the book.  And he will live on.”