2009 (Ellis Island, NY) - Today in the historic
Great Hall on Ellis Island five esteemed
individuals were honored by The Statue of
Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. for their
contributions to the American Tapestry.
Annual Ellis Island Family Heritage
Awards, given annually to a select number of
Port of New York and Ellis Island immigrants or
their descendants, along with the B.C. Forbes
Peopling of America Award were presented by
Stephen A. Briganti, President and CEO of
the Foundation, and Thomas L. Strickland,
Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and
Wildlife and Parks, in an 11:00 a.m. ceremony
hosted by actress Candice Bergen at the
Ellis Island Immigration Museum.
— Joe Namath — Born in Beaver Falls,
PA, Mr. Namath received a Bachelor of Arts
Degree from the University of Alabama. The
iconic quarterback led his New York Jets to a
legendary upset in Super Bowl III. The game’s
first true media superstar was elected to Pro
Football Hall of Fame in 1985. His father Janos
(John) immigrated to America from Hungary in
1920. His mother, Rose Juhasz, born in America,
was also the daughter of Hungarian immigrants.
SCIENCE/MEDICINE — Dr. Eric R.
Kandel — Awarded the 2000 Nobel Prize for
Physiology or Medicine for his contribution to
understanding the molecular basis of memory
storage. Currently University Professor at
Columbia, Fred Kavli Professor and Director,
Kavli Institute for Brain Science and Senior
Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical
Institute. Dr. Kandel came to America from
Vienna, Austria as a child in 1939.
ENTERTAINMENT — Jerry Seinfeld
— The Brooklyn-born comedian’s first successful
spot on The Tonight Show launched his
career. He teamed up with Larry David in 1989 to
create and star in the celebrated TV series
Seinfeld which ran for nine seasons on NBC
and is still shown in syndication. Mr. Seinfeld
is currently executive producing the real life
comedy, The Marriage Ref, for NBC. His
maternal grandparents emigrated from Syria.
FORBES PEOPLING OF AMERICA AWARD — This
Award honors immigrants who
arrived after the Ellis era or through another
port. Gloria and Emilio Estefan both fled
Cuba with their respective families after the
rise of Fidel Castro. They met in a local Miami
band in 1975 and the rest is history. Gloria is
a world-renowned recording artist, and Emilio
one of America’s most successful music and
television producers. The Estefans support many
charities including their Gloria Estefan
Foundation dedicated to childhood illnesses,
paralysis research and animals. Emilio wrote and
produced Gloria’s latest chart topping album
90 Millas, a tribute to their native Cuba.
year’s event initiated the B.C. Forbes
Peopling of America Award, sponsored by the
Forbes Family in honor of family patriarch B.C.
“Bertie” Forbes, who immigrated to America from
Scotland in 1904.
Island honorees received a framed copy of the
original ship’s passenger manifest documenting
the arrival of their family in America. The
Foundation’s database of ship’s passenger
arrivals available at the American Family
Immigration History Center® at the Ellis
Island Immigration Museum and online at
documents the arrival records of the more than
25 million immigrants, travelers and crew
members who came through America’s Golden Door
and the Port of New York from 1892-1924. Forty
percent of Americans have family immigration
records in this database.
About The Statue of
Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc.
The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation,
Inc. is a non-profit organization founded in
1982 to raise funds for and oversee the historic
restorations of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis
Island, working in partnership with the National
Park Service/U.S. Department of the Interior. In
addition to restoring the monuments, the
Foundation created a museum in the Statue’s base
and the world-class Ellis Island Immigration
Museum, The American Immigrant Wall of Honor®
and the American Family Immigration History
Center®. Its endowment has funded over 200
projects at the islands.