New Walk of Fame Inductees Unveiled in New Rochelle

The seven new interpretive signs were added to those originally installed in 2011.

Nine people and one cartoon mouse were officially inducted into New Rochelle's Walk of Fame Saturday.

Seven interpretive signs were unveiled during the ceremony, which took place at Ossie Davis Park at Library Green.

Mayor Noam Bramson said the seven new signs, added to the 25 people who were the inaugural inductees in 2011, represent a part of the human history of New Rochelle, as individuals who have contributed not only to the vitality of the city but have made extraordinary contributions to the United States and the world.

"We recognize also that even as we strive to attain a more bright and positive future, so much of what defines the character of our city is our past, our history," he said.

Inducted into the Walk of Fame Saturday were:

  • Jerry Boch, composer, and Joseph Stein, book. They wrote Fiddler on the Roof, along with composer Sheldon Harnick, while living in New Rochelle.
  • Nell Brinkley, cartoonist and illustrator. She was the creator of the "Brinkley Girl," a young, liberated workingwoman who became popular in songs, films and theater.
  • E.L. Doctorow, novelist. He is the author of Ragtime, World's Fair and Billy Bathgate.
  • Jay Leno, host of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Leno grew up on Leland Avenue, attending Trinity Elementary School, until his family moved in 1959.
  • Frederick Douglass Patterson, educator and doctor of veterinary medicine. He was the founder of the United Negro College Fund, initiator of the black Army Air Corps (Tuskegee Airmen) and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
  • Carl Reiner, actor, writer and director, and Rob Reiner, actor, writer and director. Carl Reiner and his then 6-year-old son Rob moved to New Rochelle in 1953 from the Bronx. The elder Reiner used his home and community as inspiration for The Dick Van Dyke Show from 1961 to 1966.
  • Mighty Mouse, cartoon hero, and Paul Terry, animator. Terry established the Terrytoons animation studio is what is now the Kaufman Building in 1939. In addition to Mighty Mouse, the studio created other famous characters including Heckle and Jeckle, Gandy Goose and Deputy Dawg.

Former New Rochelle resident Rod Kennedy, who now lives in Manhattan, was the driving force behind the Walk of Fame, including its financing.

He said he got his inspiration for the walk while researching New Rochelle's history for the six historical interpretive signs he created and donated to Westchester County for Glen Island Park.

"I was amazed to learn how many famous people were born or who had lived in New Rochelle," Kennedy said, "and thought it would be a wonderful idea to create a Walk of Fame to honor these distinguished men and women."

He said the Walk of Fame is an instructive and educational tool for the young people of New Rochelle, too.

"They can come here and see people who went to same the schools, shopped in the same stores and walked the same streets," Kennedy said.

Among those Kennedy singled out for helping the Walk of Fame come to fruition—including City Historian Barbara Davis and Parks and Recreation Commissioner William Zimmermann—were Bramson and the City Council for saying yes to the project.

That led Bramson to respond that, as a city official, when someone comes to you with an idea that they will completely execute and completely finance, "it's not all that difficult to say yes."

Former inductees include Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, Eddie Foy, Lou Gehrig, Robert Merrill and Buffalo Bob Smith. For a complete list of the 2011 inductees, click here.


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