Entrepreneur, humanitarian, and philanthropist, Harold Matzner, has made his home in the desert for more than 30 years. The owner of Palm Spring’s popular Spencer’s Restaurant and CEO of a NY/NJ based branding, advertising and marketing company, Harold is credited with revitalizing the Palm Springs International Film Festival and founding the successful business concept of targeted “shared mail”.
In 2017, the year of his 80th birthday, Harold was one of the eleven men and women selected nationally by the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans as a member and inducted by Judge Clarence Thomas in the courtroom of the United States Supreme Court. Harold was also honored with a special 24-standard page birthday section in the The Desert Sun and a two-part front page story in Palm Springs Life in the November and December editions. He was honored in November 2017 by the General Patton Memorial Museum with the dedication of the Matzner Tank Pavilion and three World War II operating tanks, and in the same month was honored by the McCallum Theatre for 10 years of service as Chairman and for being the first person to give the Theatre $5 million or more.
He also rescued and revived the world famous Palm Springs Tennis Club and turned its lunchroom into Spencer’s, one of the City’s hottest see-and-be-seen restaurants. Spencer’s is named after his beloved 110-pound Siberian husky. Mr. Matzner is in his 11th year as the Chairman of the Board of the McCallum Theatre, his 14th year as Chairman of the Palm Springs International Film Festival, and is the long-time Executive Vice Chairman of the Palm Springs Art Museum. He serves on the Board of Trustees of the Eisenhower Medical Center and Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center. He also chairs several charity fundraising events each year.
He has received many awards from the charities that he supports. He has been honored by the Association of Fundraising Professionals as the “Philanthropist of the Year”, and for the past six years he has served as Honorary Chair of the local National Philanthropy Day event. He has also been recognized by Gilda’s Club as the “Man of the Year”, by the McCallum Muses as “Man of the Year”, the City of Palm Springs with the “Richard M. Milanovich Community Service Award”, as “Angel of the Year” by Angel View Children’s Foundation, as “Businessperson of the Year” by the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce, the Virginia Waring “Lifetime Achievement Award”, “Richard M. Milanovich Humanitarian Award” by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, and by Desert Samaritan’s as “Samaritan of the Year”, and will be honored in May by the Coachella Valley Symphony, to name a few. Mr. Matzner has been a benefactor to many other non-profits, both here and on the East coast.
Mr. Matzner is one of the Palm Springs valley’s largest donors to philanthropy and has contributed more than $70 million to area non-profits since 2000. Among the many local charities benefiting from his philanthropic efforts are the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center, AIDS Assistance Program, Desert Symphony, American Cancer Society, The Living Desert, Cabot’s Pueblo Museum, Coachella Valley Symphony, General Patton Memorial Museum, ACT for MS, College of the Desert, Eisenhower Medical Center, Desert AIDS Project, Desert Cancer Foundation, Palm Springs Animal Shelter, Jewish Family Services of the Desert, American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), StandWithUs, Neuro Vitality Center, Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre, Temple Isaiah, Bighorn BAM (Behind a Miracle), Tools for Tomorrow, Palm Springs Air Museum, Mizell Senior Center, Well in the Desert, FIND Food Bank, Pegasus Riding Academy, LGBTQ The Center, Equality California, and the Human Rights Campaign.
He is credited with the key leadership role in creating Palm Springs’ Measure J (a 1% sales tax increase that has helped to fund a $200 million downtown revitalization program, while providing an additional surplus of $12 million per year to rebuild the city’s infrastructure). He is a community activist. He earns no money from any of his activities in Palm Springs, including his restaurant, Spencer’s.
Mr. Matzner’s star is located at the foot of his friend Sonny Bono’s statue in the heart of Palm Springs.