Bob Czepiel, now a filmmaker, said he and his wife Anne donated $100,000 toward the creation of the site aimed at remembering the late cinematic actress, The Hartford (Conn.) Courant reported Saturday.
The center will house a 250-seat theater dedicated to the "Love Among the Ruins" star, who lived in Old Saybrook before her death in 2003.
The couple agreed that while making the donation helped with the site's price tag of more than $5.6 million, it and the entire center project was a risk.
"During times like this, to get aggressive and do something like this is insane," Czepiel said, apparently referring to the economic recession. "But I am a dreamer, and I learned on Wall Street early on that you have to learn to lean against the wind."
"This whole lower Connecticut River Valley area could be a cultural mecca," his wife offered. "This center will sort of tie it all together."
Czepiel told the Courant he is hopeful the $100,000 donation will spur more donations to the project and its $1.7 million fundraising goal.