2nd Annual California Hall of Fame
December 5, 2007
EARL WARREN — read by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year, Earl Warren – the California born son of Scandinavian immigrants - constructed a life that serves eternally as a monument to the real American values — decency, justice, integrity and public service.
He worked summers on the Southern Pacific Railroad and served 16 winters as Chief Justice of the United States. He was a first lieutenant in the U. S. Army during World War I and the only governor of California elected to three terms. He was a clerk to the judicial committee of the California State Assembly; deputy city attorney of Oakland; deputy district attorney and district attorney of Alameda County; regent of his alma mater, the University of California, and attorney general of California.
He was a giant who used his powers to embrace and uplift all. His Supreme Court, the Warren Court, gave life to the Jeffersonian ideal – that all men are created equal.
The Warren Court ruled school segregation unconstitutional. It affirmed the principle of one man, one vote. It gave all Americans, regardless of race, creed or color, the right to serve on juries. It accorded all suspects in custody fundamental rights – to remain silent, to have legal representation.
And in our darkest hour, the new President, Lyndon Johnson, turned to Earl Warren for reassurance. Johnson knew that Earl Warren was the right man – the only man – to chair the commission investigating the assassination of President Kennedy.
The State of California honors Earl Warren, our 30th governor and the 14th Chief Justice of the United States for his life of dignity and accomplishment.
JOHN STEINBECK — read by Bob Warren, son of Earl Warren
In novels and short stories, in fiction and journalism, from the 1920s through the 1960s, John Steinbeck composed unforgettable literary portraits of the forgotten American.
He was the son of comfort in Salinas, a student of culture at Stanford, and the poet laureate of the dispossessed.
John Steinbeck’s work spoke for the men and women society didn’t hear.
“Of Mice and Men” told the tale of George and Lennie, itinerant laborers working the San Joaquin Valley, sustained and broken by simple dreams.
“The Grapes of Wrath,” which won the Pulitzer Prize, is the epic journey of the Joads, from Dust Bowl Oklahoma to Depression California, from land ruined by drought to migrant labor camps scarred by cruelty, from a place where hope was challenged to a place where dreams were never defeated.
Always, John Steinbeck’s work was about the intrinsic value and dignity of the individual, from “Tortilla Flat” to “Cannery Row” and “East of Eden.” They were literary achievements so successful in touching the heart, the soul and the mind that John Steinbeck was award the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.
The State of California honors John Steinbeck, its native son, the modest literary giant who told our simple stories with beauty and grace.
ANSEL ADAMS — read by Thomas Steinbeck, son of John Steinbeck
In 1906, four-year-old Ansel Adams experienced the fearsome wonder and power of nature when he survived the San Francisco earthquake.
Ten years later, he made his first trip to Yosemite and marveled at nature’s awesome beauty and immutable grace.
He spent the better part of the next seven decades recording that beauty and grace in photographs that will inspire generations for centuries to come, and through his work with the Sierra Club – which Adams joined as a teenager and came to lead as a director – he made preserving our natural wonders and resources a very personal quest.
Like those natural wonders, like El Capitan and Half Dome, like giant redwoods and the Grand Tetons, Adams’ work will last for all time. A master of the science of photography, Ansel Adams created in his eternal art a thunderous ballet of shadow and light that inspires and informs environmental activism.
It is work he described, quite simply, as “an austere and blazing poetry of the real.”
The State of California honors Ansel Adams, the trailblazing visual poet who made the instant his camera clicked into a moment that lives forever.
JOHN WAYNE — read by Dr. Michael Adams, son of Ansel Adams
If 20th century America had a face, it was the face of John Wayne. If 20th century America had a voice, it was the voice of John Wayne. If 20th century America had a walk, it was the bowlegged shamble of John Wayne.
Whether he was astride a horse, defending the Alamo, or storming the beaches at Iwo Jima, John Wayne was the essential American movie star for nearly 50 years, from his first picture in 1926 to his last in 1976. He was an American classic, and his story was classically American.
His Hollywood career wasn’t much more than a happy accident. He was a kid from Glendale, a USC football player named Marion Morrison, just a kid working a menial summer job at the Fox Film studios when he was discovered by a director named John Ford.
He was tall and lanky and easy to know, and it seemed the camera might like him. Even then there was a hard crust around a decent core, just like so many of the characters he would come play, like the Ringo Kid in “Stagecoach” or Ethan Edwards in “The Searchers,” like Thomas Dunson in “Red River” or Rooster Cogburn in the Oscar-winning “True Grit.”
The kid’s name was changed to John Wayne, more than 170 films followed, and reel-by-reel, a story of America was told. It was a story of the Old West, old values and rewards won the old fashioned way – through grit, determination, hard work. It was a story of America told through the prism of John Wayne’s imagination and beliefs, and while his politics didn’t please everyone, his appeal on screen was universal.
Over the decades, Wayne made films with dozens of directors, but often the best work was done with John Ford. “Stagecoach” and “The Searchers,” “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” and “The Quiet Man,” “Fort Apache” and “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” all of them American classics, just like the man whose name was above the title.
The State of California honors John Wayne, whose work is a lasting, treasured and monumental gift to the country he so dearly loved.
MILTON BERLE — read by Patrick Wayne, son of John Wayne
Through history, man has gathered each night around light and sound. The campfire. The hearth. The stove. Then came the radio. Shortly thereafter came the television, which Milton Berle made irresistible.
Milton Berle embodied the history of 20th century American show business. He was born Milton Berlinger in New York City in 1908. At the age of six, he was working regularly in silent films with such stars as Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. When he was 12, he made his debut on Broadway, and when he starred in the Ziegfield Follies he was the first performer ever to have his name above the title on the marquee. He went on to tour in vaudeville, and, after the advent of sound, star in talkies.
But radio made Berle a household name, a fixture in every living room. And television made him an iconic figure, whose work will be remembered as long as sound and picture is transmitted through thin air.
In 1948, NBC moved Berle’s Texaco Star Theater from radio to television. Its visual, slapstick, vaudeville style was perfect for the new medium, and, live from Hollywood, Berle became the biggest star in the audacious new firmament. When Berle went on the air, a million American homes had television. Within months, the number doubled. And then it doubled again. And it continued to double until the television became as essential to the American home as Edison’s lightbulb, thanks to a foundation constructed by the wit and talent of Milton Berle.
Everyone had to watch Uncle Miltie Tuesday night. Everyone had to talk about what they saw the next morning. Movie ticket sales declined Tuesday nights, restaurants closed Tuesday nights, and Uncle Miltie did an 80 share. Shows don’t do 80 shares any longer, but Milton Berle’s legacy, the television water cooler hit, endures.
The State of California honors Milton Berle, television’s first great star.
JONAS SALK — read by Lorna Berle, wife of Milton Berle
There was a time when summer was a season of fear for many American parents, the season when thousands upon thousands of children became infected with the crippling poliovirus. Those were the summers and the seasons before Jonas Salk.
All the seasons of Jonas Salk were seasons of accomplishment. He was 15 when he started at City College of New York, he was just 24 when he graduated from New York University College of Medicine. And he was just 40 when he ended those summers of fear forever.
Motivated, he said, more by a love of humanity than of science, Salk devoted his abundant energies, expertise and intellect to medical research. In 1947, he was appointed director of the Virus Research Laboratory of the University of Pittsburgh. By 1955, he had developed and fully tested a vaccine for polio. In 1916, a polio outbreak in the United States left 6,000 dead and 27,000 paralyzed. In the early 1950s, more than 50,000 new cases were reported each year, with between five and ten percent of them resulting in death. By 1957, the number of new reported cases had dropped to 5,000 annually. By 1991, the disease had been completely eradicated from the United States.
But Jonas Salk never sought to profit from his discovery. He refused to patent the vaccine because he wished to see it disseminated as widely as possible. What Salk did instead was continue to devote his genius, skill and fame to medical research. In 1959, he moved to La Jolla and established the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. There he spent his final four decades conducting research on cancer and autoimmune disease, while continuing vaccine research related to both polio and AIDS.
The State of California honors Jonas Salk, medicine’s modern miracle worker.
JACKIE ROBINSON — read by Dr. Peter Salk, son of Jonas Salk
Jackie Robinson’s grandfather was born into slavery. Jackie Robinson’s grandchildren were born into a more equitable world he made possible.
Jackie Robinson was born in segregated Georgia in 1919. He was raised and educated in an imperfect but better place called California.
After distinguishing himself at Pasadena’s John Muir High School, Robinson went on to Pasadena City College and UCLA, where he became the first athlete to win four varsity letters – in football, basketball, baseball and track.
Then he went out into a world that cared more about the color of his skin than the content of his character or the caliber of his achievements. He served in a segregated Army unit in World War II and came marching home in 1945 to find work playing baseball for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro League.
Baseball in 1945 was as segregated as the Georgia of Jackie Robinson’s birth. But then Branch Rickey, the president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, invited Jackie Robinson to change all that. On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first African American to play in a big league baseball game and the hundred-year march from slavery to equality picked up speed. One color line had been broken and other barriers would inevitably crumble. Symbolism was reality; sports was real life. Jackie suffered the abuse and degradation, but after him black children went to Central High School in Little Rock and James Meredith enrolled in the University of Mississippi. After Jackie, Martin Luther King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman and Halle Berry stood on the stage holding Oscars at the Academy Awards.
The State of California honors Jackie Robinson for lighting the torch of freedom and making it possible for all men and women to reach out of the darkness and grasp their dreams.
STEVE JOBS — read by Rachel Robinson, wife of Jackie Robinson
Some people dream about the future. Others speculate about the future. Steve Jobs created the future.
A college dropout from Cupertino, a visionary without credential or portfolio, 21-year-old Steve Jobs saw the design for a homemade computer in his friend Steve Wozniak’s house and envisioned a brave new world of possibility. Wozniak had designed the computer for his own use, and Jobs said they should build it for the world. Working out of Jobs’ garage on April 1, 1976, they created a company they called Apple.
Over the next three decades, the ideas got bigger, while the products – and the world – got smaller. Every desktop became an international connection. Every pocket a dance hall jukebox. Every palm a global communications center. Every invention begat a reinvention. First Steve Jobs gave us a wired world, now he’s creating a wireless universe.
Apple was followed by Next. Then there was Pixar, which turned the two-dimensional cartoon in to a three-dimensional art form so real it demands you reach out and touch it.
Steve Jobs gave us the means and created the end.
The State of California honors Steve Jobs, who saw the future and invited us all to share with him the journey there.
ROBERT MONDAVI — read by Steve Jobs
Robert Mondavi’s life is the quintessential American success story. It stretches from Main Street in a small town in Minnesota to a verdant valley in California, back to Wall Street, across the Atlantic Ocean and around the world.
Mondavi was born to Italian immigrant parents in that small Minnesota town in 1913. As a boy, he moved with his family to Lodi, California, where his father started a successful fruit packing business. Robert went off to study at Stanford University and when he graduated, he came b ack to join the family business, which now included the Charles Krug Winery in the Napa Valley.
Together, the Mondavis worked to rebuild a business that had almost been destroyed by prohibition and the depression.
But Robert dreamed of a different kind of California winery, one that could produce great wines, wines that would rival those produced in France and Italy, wines that would be accepted and enjoyed around the world.
In 1966, in Oakville in the Napa Valley, he founded the Robert Mondavi Winery. He pioneered many fine winemaking techniques in California, including cold fermentation, stainless steel tanks and the use of French oak barrels. He introduced blind taste tests that proved Napa Valley wines could withstand any scrutiny and deserved to be considered – and consumed – with the best in the world.
Others followed Mondavi’s lead, and today California’s wine industry is the fourth largest in the world – behind only France, Italy and Spain. It employs more than 300,000 workers, generates more than $50 billion in economic value for the state, and ships more than 185 million cases a year, including 43 million to 165 countries around the world.
The State of California honors Robert Mondavi for his vision, his leadership and creating a standard of excellence respected around the world.
RITA MORENO — read by Margrit Mondavi, wife of Robert Mondavi
Rita Moreno can sing. She has a Grammy to prove that. Rita Moreno can act. She has an Oscar and two Emmys, in case there are any doubts. Rita Moreno can dance. She has a Tony, which should answer any questions about that.
Nine individuals have accomplished that show business grand slam. Only one is a Latina who had to battle racism and sexism. Only one is a Latina who had to defy stereotype and tolerate intolerance. Only one – Rita Moreno of Berkeley, California.
She was born Rosita Dolores Alverio in Humacao, Puerto Rico in 1931. When she was five, she moved to New York with her mother, like all immigrants a true believer in the American dream. By the time she was 11, she was dubbing American films into Spanish. At 13, she made her Broadway debut in a long forgotten production entitled “Skydrift.”
By 1949, she was in California, a contract player at MGM. The roles weren’t always great, and sometimes they were demeaning – on “Father Knows Best” she played an exchange student from India – but they were plentiful and occasionally the productions were memorable. Rita Moreno had parts in both “Singin’ in the Rain” and “The King and I.”
She persevered and in 1961 she got her break, winning the pivotal role of Anita in the film version of “West Side Story.” For Moreno it was the role of a lifetime, perhaps the role of HER lifetime. And she played the proud, resolute, defiant Puerto Rican character with Oscar-winning resonance.
After Anita, there was no turning back. There would be no more Indian exchange students, not more Latin “spitfires” or mindless sexpots. Dignity would no longer be traded for meaningless commercial opportunity. But there would be that Grammy, that Tony, and those two Emmys.
After Anita, there would be opportunity for Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz, for Jennifer Lopez and America Ferrera and Michelle Rodriguez. After Anita, the progress would come slowly, frustratingly, but it would surely come.
The State of California honors Rita Moreno, who proves that grace, talent and justice can never be denied.
TIGER WOODS — read by Rita Moreno
Potential squandered is the oldest, saddest story in sports. Potential achieved is perhaps the most rewarding and appreciated. Potential exceeded is the rare and beautiful story of Tiger Woods’ life.
Born in Cypress in 1975; schooled in the game by his late father Earl on the public golf links of Southern California, educated at Stanford, Tiger Woods is the embodiment of modern California. Woods is part Thai, part Chinese, part African-American, part Native American, part Dutch, married to a Swede, and a thoroughly American success story.
A golf prodigy almost from the moment he first picked up a club at the age of two, Woods first displayed his potential on national television with Mike Douglas and Bob Hope in 1978. In 1991, Woods became the youngest U.S. Junior Amateur champion, and he successfully defended the title twice, until, in 1994 he became history’s youngest U.S. Amateur champion, another title successfully defended twice.
In August 1996, Tiger turned pro and turned a nice, sedate country club game into a national obsession. Boys and girls everywhere, from Stockton to South Central, from Lompoc to La Jolla, from Oakland to Orange suddenly saw the possibilities in the game of golf. They could all be Tiger Woods. He looks like them, he talks like them, he comes from the same place they come from. Tiger Woods is the shared experience of all of us – and he is a champion, perhaps the greatest champion. He is the youngest player to achieve the career grand slam, he is the youngest to win 50 professional tournaments, he is the youngest Masters champion ever, the only one to hold all four major championships at the same time, the first major champion of African or Asian heritage. And he is the highest paid athlete in the world.
The State of California honors Tiger Woods, who, by living the California dream is an inspiration to all and a symbol of achievement, excellence, decency, and possibility around the world.
WILLIE MAYS — read by Tiger Woods
Jackie Robinson change the face of baseball, but it was Willie Mays who changed the way the game was played. He was speed and power, grace and strength, guile and athleticism, excitement and style and cool all in one indefatigable package.
If a base needed to be stolen, Willie stole it. If a home run needed to be hit, Willie hit it. If a ball had to be caught, Willie caught it. Over his shoulder, diving headlong, in his trademarked basket – by any means necessary, he made the catch. He charged the ball, picked it up in his bare hand and threw the runner out at home if that’s what the situation demanded. There was nothing in the game of baseball that eluded Willie Mays. He was a master of all the diamond’s facets.
Willie Mays came up hard in Depression Alabama, but always found the joy in sports. He starred in football, basketball and baseball in high school, but in 1947, the year Robinson broke the color line, when Willie was just 16, he signed a professional contract and went to work for the Negro League’s Birmingham Black Barons. Three years later he was signed by the New York Giants, and a year after that he was in the big leagues, helping the Giants to the National League pennant and winning rookie of the year. His first hit, after an 0-for-12 start, was a home run off future Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn. In the next 22 years he would hit 660 home runs, amass 3,283 hits, bat .302, score more than 2,000 runs, drive in more than 1,900, and come to be considered the greatest all around player in the history of the game.
And in 1958, when the Giants moved to San Francisco and the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, it was the presence and panache of Willie Mays that made California thoroughly and irrefutably big league. Willie Mays became the heart of sports in San Francisco. He made the city his home and the heart still beats as strongly today as it did 50 years ago.
The State of California honors Willie Mays for always playing baseball with a joyous, irrepressible abandon and teaching us to share in his joy.
ELIZABETH TAYLOR — read by Maria Shriver
Born in London to American parents in 1932, Elizabeth Taylor was, from the very beginning, a citizen of the world.
And it wasn’t long before the world noticed. Her family resettled in Los Angeles after the outbreak of World War II, and by the time she was 9 she had her first motion picture contract. At 12, with the release of “National Velvet” she was a star. When she was 26, she won her first Oscar for “Butterfield 8.” Six years later, she won another for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.”
With her incandescent beauty, her luminescent eyes, her regal bearing and her timeless presence, Elizabeth Taylor was the last of a breed – the last of the great movie stars produced by the old Hollywood studio system – and remains one of a kind. Movie star and artist, icon and businesswoman, celebrity and humanitarian.
And the world still takes notice. Queen Elizabeth named her Dame Commander of the British Empire, President Clinton honored her with a Presidential Citizen’s Medal, and the France bestowed upon her the prestigious Legion d’Honneur.
But perhaps none of it has mattered as much as her leadership in the fight against AIDS. When it wasn’t convenient or popular, Elizabeth Taylor embarked on her crusade against the disease. She helped found amFAR, the American Foundation for AIDS Research, and when it seemed that might not be enough, she established the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. Her work has raised tens of millions of dollars and saved countless lives.
The State of California honors Elizabeth Taylor, a citizen of the world California is proud to call its own.