SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - Actors Elizabeth Taylor and John Wayne and baseball players Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays were among those inducted into the California Hall of Fame on Wednesday.
The brainchild of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s wife Maria Shriver, the Hall of Fame celebrates legends tied to the nation’s most populous state, but some of the most famed have yet to make the cut. For example, the year-old institution on Wednesday inducted actress Rita Moreno but not Marilyn Monroe.
“It’s not a true Hall of Fame, as in baseball, when only the greatest players, the tallest giants of history, are selected,” Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton wrote this week. “I just wish they had called it something besides a Hall of Fame. Maybe the first family’s Preferred Prominent People.”
Schwarzenegger and Shriver said it was not easy selecting the finest in the state’s history. “It is very, very hard because we have so many great talents in California,” Schwarzenegger told reporters on the 2007 selection.
The Wednesday evening event injected an element of glamour by luring all of the living honorees to attend -- except last-minute no-show Taylor, 75. Most walked along a Hollywood-style red carpet leading to the California Museum for History, Women and the Arts in Sacramento.
Many of those honored at a ceremony spent only part of their lives in the Golden State. For example Taylor was born in London. She lent her two Academy Awards to the exhibit and others lent objects from their careers.
Robinson, the first black player in Major League Baseball, hailed from Georgia and played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, but grew up in Pasadena, California. Alabama-born Mays, who wore a baseball cap to the event, moved to San Francisco with the Giants from New York half a century ago.
Several honored were native New Yorkers, including Milton Berle, one of the early stars of American television, and Jonas Salk, who developed the polio vaccine. Winemaker Robert Mondavi, 94, who was born in Minnesota, made a rare public appearance, but did not appear cognizant of the proceedings.
Californian natives included “Grapes of Wrath” author John Steinbeck; Steve Jobs, 52, who brought the world the Apple Computer and the iPod; golf superstar Tiger Woods; former Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren and photographer Ansel Adams.
Last year, the California museum inducted its first 13 members, including Ronald Reagan, Walt Disney, and Clint Eastwood.
Editing by Mohammad Zargham