ENY Wall of Fame
Over the years I have accumulated a list of famous and semi-famous people who hailed from ENY. A number of them appeared on the Thomas Jefferson High School page but others didn't have a home so now I'm creating a 'Wall of Fame'. Feel free to contact me if you know others.
|Jerry Stiller, (1927-)|
Let's start with someone still living and one of my favorite comic actors. Born Gerald Isaac Stiller, Jerry had a long comedy career teamed with wife Ann Meara. Had a great TV run from 1993-2007 on Seinfeld and King of Queens. His parents were at 472 Jerome Street in the 1925 census and the family lived at 648 Logan Street after Jerry was born.
|Steve Buscemi, (1957-)|
Actor, lived at 606 Liberty Avenue, catty-corner from St. Michael's.
|Tony Danza, (1951- )|
Actor, born Antonio Salvatore Iadanza, on Pitkin Avenue between Jerome and Barbey. Attended (and kicked out of) Blessed Sacrament and also attended P.S. 171, as did his brother Matty.
|Vincent Schiavelli, (1948-2005 )|
Actor, appeared in numerous movies including One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Ghost. He produced a cookbook (his grandfather was a chef) that recounted family stories growing up in Bushwick, but Joe Heredia tipped me off that he once lived on Grant Avenue and I did find the family at 43 Grant Avenue in a 1967 phonebook.
|Frank Sivero, (1952- )|
Actor, born Francesco LoGiudice. This comes via Anthony Messina, who recalls; "When Godfather II came out I didnít see it but one of my neighbors told me that one of the guys from the neighborhood was in the movie. When I finally saw it I recognized Frank Sivero as someone who in the late 60s used to frequently pass my house on Pine street, presumably on his way to the Euclid avenue station." Frank also appeared in The Godfather and Goodfellas. We haven't confirmed he lived in ENY, though I did find a LoGuidice family on Blake Avenue in a 1963 phone book. Looking for confirmation.Mike Cervasio adds;"Frank did live in ENY; his family owned a pizzeria on Sutter Ave and Crescent Streets in the 60ís and 70ís; my family moved from Crescent and Dumont in 1977 and the family still owned the pizzeria that year. In the late 60ís and early 70ís you would often see Frank working there helping out."
|Anne Jackson, (1925-2016)|
Actress, born Anna Jane Jackson in Pennsylvania. Her family moved to 1125 Liberty Avenue and she attended Franklin K. Lane High School. A star of stage and screen, she was married to (and often acted with) Eli Wallach.
|Isaac Asimov, (1920-1992)|
Science fiction writer, born Isaak Yudovich Ozimov. His father was a candy store owner and they moved around a bit with ENY addresses at 425 Van Siclen Avenue, 434 Miller Avenue, and 651 Essex Street. He attended P.S. 149 and often wandered Cemetery of the Evergreens for peace and inspiration.
|Allie Sherman, (1923-2015)|
Head Coach of the New York Giants, 1961-1968. As a youngster lived at 798 New Lots Avenue.
|John Garfield, (1913-1952)|
Actor, born Jacob Julius Garfinkle. Oscar nomination for role in Body and Soul (1947) Family lived at 455 New Jersey Avenue in the 1920 census. I am told he attended P.S. 149.
|Lena Horne, (1917-2010)|
Entertainer, born in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn. Lena Horne was her birth name. Lived on Highland Boulevard in the 1960s when married to Lennie Hayton.
|Sy Berger, (1923-2014)|
Of course Mickey Mantle wasn't an East New Yorker, but those iconic Topps baseball cards were designed by Sy Berger and Woody Gelman on the kitchen table of Sy's apartment on Alabama Avenue. Those first Topps sets with the Mantle rookie card are worth a fortune these days. One reason is their rarity; they did not sell well when first released and Sy wound up dumping most of the inventory in the ocean!.
|Willie Mays |
OK we're doing baseball and this is a small cheat. Willie was not an East New Yorker but he did own a liquor store on 556 Pennsylvania Avenue with Giants teammate Monte Irvin. He did have a presence in ENY; Frank Calderone recalls Willie once visited a sick girl on Logan Street around 1972, arriving in a pink Cadillac with "Say Hey" license plates.
|Vitas Gerulaitis, (1954-1994)|
Tennis professional. Thanks to Judy Close and Ronnie Amerise, who supplied this picture of Vitas and Carl Pergola in Highland Park in 1978. Judy tipped me off that Vitas was from ENY, though the family would move to Howard Beach. A little digging shows the family was at 796 Logan Street when Vitas was born, and around 1961 lived at 878 Belmont Avenue, near Milford.
|Phil Silvers, (1911-1985)|
Entertainer, born Philip Silver. Although some bios list his birth as Brownsville, his family was at 2714 Fulton Street, off Wyona, in 1910, and Phil grew up on Pennsylvania Avenue (1915 and 1920 census), attending P.S. 149.
I need to give a shout-out to a couple of site fans. Mike Bivona, a frequent contributor, is pictured here with his wife Barbara presenting a signed copy of his book "Dancing Around the World with Mike and Barbara Bivona" to Karina Smirnoff of "Dancing with the Stars" fame. Mike wasn't satisfied with being a published author from his CPA days; he and his wife are accomplished ballroom dancers and the book captures their travel and dancing experiences. Mike lived on the third floor above the pool hall on the right, on the corner of Pitkin and Hendrix.
Attorney and radio host of "Closing Arguments", Mike was born and raised at 833 Cleveland Street, attending St. Gabriel's for grade school. Mike had the distinction of "sticking around" and fighting for ENY during its toughest years, running a non-profit law office called ENY Legal Services. He was "Judge Mazz" on a national syndicated TV show called "Street Court" from 2009-2011.
|Barry Commoner, (1917-2012)|
Biologist, professor, and ecologist, Barry was a founding member of the modern environmental movement. He also ran for President in 1980 under the Citizen's Party. Barry and his family lived at 603 Van Siclen Avenue in the 1920s.
|Alvin Toffler, (1928-2016)|
Author of Future Shock (1970), a prescient look at the information age which sold millions of copies and was translated into dozens of languages. The Third Wave (1980) and Power Shift (1990) followed as a trilogy. Born in Manhattan, but the family had moved to 486 Berriman Street by 1930. Probably attended P.S. 202, the family was at 743 Wyona Street by the 1940 census.
|Robbie Dupree, (1946-)|
Musician, best known for his 1980 hit "Steal Away." Robbie lived across from the Arlington Library at 204 Arlington Avenue. That's him in 1948 posed in front of the library, an image he used on his "Vintage" album cover.
|Danny Kaye (1911-1987)|
One of ENY's most famous, and one of many famous Jewish entertainers who hailed from the southern part of East New York. Danny (Damiel Kaminsky)lived on Bradford Street and his future wife, Sylvia Fine, lived around the corner. She attended P.S. 173 while Danny went to P.S. 149 (from 1919 to 1927) and it is now the Danny Kaye school. Danny would go on to Thomas Jefferson but was expelled.
|Steve Lawrence (1935-)|
Singer, born Sidney Liebowitz. Family lived at 443 Alabama Avenue, and Steve attended P.S. 174 across the street. He also attended P.S. 109 in Brownsville and Thomas Jefferson High School.
|Shelley Winters (1920-2006)|
Actress, born Shirley Shrift in St. Louis. The family moved to Brooklyn when she was three. Liz (Cerverizzo)Sanford tells us they lived on Pitkin by Atkins Avenue at one time. Winters attended Jefferson High School but did not graduate.
|Vince Edwards (1928-1996)|
Actor, born Vincent Edward Zoine. Best known for his role on TV as Dr. Ben Casey. Though bios list him as born in Brownsville, the address is really in Ocean Hill. Ken Rogai confirmed Vince lived on Pleasant Place near him in Ocean Hill. He graduated East New York Vocational in 1945 and studied aviation mechanics. Also known in ENY as a lifeguard at the Cypress Pool.
|George Gershwin, 242 Snediker Avenue|
Composer, George Gershwin was born Jacob Gershowitz on September 26, 1898 at 242 Snediker Avenue. The 1963 Times article on the left details the dedication of a plaque on the 65th anniversary of his birthday. Despite the recognition, the house did not survive past the 1980s. In 1956, the newly opened P.S. 166 on Van Siclen Avenue and Linden Boulevard was named after him.
|Bill Griffith, (1944-)|
Cartoonist, known for the Zippy comic strip. Lived on the southeast corner of Hendrix Street and Arlington, featured in the strip on the left.
|Tony Jackson, Leroy Ellis|
Not all Jefferson grads were ENYers (see below) but these two were. Don't ask me how the 1957 basketball team did not win the city championship (I believe Boy's High won.) The team featured Tony Jackson and Leroy Ellis, both of whom would star at St. John's and turn pro. Tony was banned from the NBA for failing to report a bribe attempt and played in the American Basketball Association for a precursor to today's Nets. Leroy Ellis, who graduated a year later in 1958, had a lengthy and successful career in the NBA.
|Jim McMillian, (1948-)|
Basketball star at Jefferson and Columbia University before a successful NBA career with the Lakers. Lived at 435 Miller Avenue.
|Lloyd Blankfein, CEO, Goldman Sachs|
I don't have his graduation picture, but the current CEO of Goldman Sachs was a 1971 Jefferson grad (and valedictorian.) Born in the Bronx, his family moved to the Linden Houses in the 1950s. He went on to Harvard and a career on Wall Street. Thanks to Ron Gerstein for the corrections.
|Shawon Dunston (1963-) |
Shawon batted .793 (!!) as a senior for Jefferson in 1982, and was drafted #1 in the nation by the Chicago Cubs. Dunston experienced mixed success in the majors from 1985 to 1996. Lived in the Linden Houses.
Two high schools, FK Lane and Thomas Jefferson, are often cited as sources for ENY notables, but many came from outside the ENY area. I have tried to research and confirm where possible.
Franklin K. Lane
Red Holzman, Knicks coach - Brownsville
Richie Havens, singer - Bed-Stuy
Earl Hyman, actor - Bed Stuy
Bob Grim, Yankees pitcher - Queens
Sam Levenson, humorist - Brownsville
Thomas Jefferson High School
Howard Zinn - Ocean Hill
Jimmy Smits - Brownsville
John Brockington - unknown
Riddick Bowe - Brownsville
Mike Tyson - Brownsville
Al Lewis (Grandpa Munster!)- Brownsville
Paul Mazursky - Ocean Hill