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Scholarship Created in Heath Ledger's Memory

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Jun 06, 2008 | 6:53am EDT

A scholarship fund benefiting struggling Australian actors has been established in late star Heath Ledger's memory.

Gregor Jordan, who befriended Ledger while directing him in 1999's Two Hands, announced the fund's formation at Thursday night's Australians in Film Breakthrough Awards in Beverly Hills.

Jordan, who also directed Ledger in 2003's Ned Kelly, told guests Ledger's spirit had inspired the foundation, as he was once just "your old, broke Aussie actor" struggling to make a name for himself.

But after earning his first significant paycheck, the Perth, Australia, native immediately went "into a bar (to) buy everyone a round of drinks."

The director said, "It is that generosity that somehow sums Heath up. When he had nothing, he still found a way to give to others."

Jordan admitted the details of the scholarship at this point remain "a little sketchy," but did pronounce the first benefactor would be Ledger's former girlfriend, Michelle Williams--the mother of Ledger's 2-year-old daughter Matilda Rose.

He added, "It's going to involve a number of benefactors and there's been a lot of interest already.

"I was talking to Michelle Williams, his partner and the mother of his child, today, and Michelle has said she would be very proud and happy to be the first benefactor."

A letter written by Ledger's father, Kim, who could not attend, was read aloud, stating: "We know that Heath would be proud of his attachment to this scholarship.

"(It) does what Heath has done personally during the last 10 years, (supporting) Australian actors, singers, directors or writers who seek to supply their talents to the U.S.A."

The first scholarship is due to be awarded in 2009.

Ledger died in January, aged 28, after accidentally overdosing on prescription drugs at his New York apartment.

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