ASBURY PARK, NJ — Asbury Park was the place to be on a Sunday evening this fall when the New Jersey Hall of Fame inducted its 2019 honorees at the Paramount Theatre, including Livingston native Jason Alexander.  The actor, known most commonly for his role in "Seinfeld," invited his Livingston High School drama teacher, Bob Lampf, to introduce him during the ceremony.

"Without him, there's no me," he said of his former teacher. 

With a red carpet and camera crews from entertainment TV shows, the event had the feel of the Oscars. The "A" list (as in Asbury Park) included many of the Garden State's most famous residents, such as:

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  • Astronaut Buzz Aldrin (Montclair), who walked on the moon 50 years ago in 1969;
  • Jon Bon Jovi (Sayreville), who inducted Southside Johnny;
  • Whoopi Goldberg (West Orange), who inducted celebrity photographer Tim White; 
  • Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Darlene Love, who performed several songs;
  • Dr. Oz, who inducted Martha Stewart (Nutley);
  • Former Rutgers football coach Greg Schiano (Ramapo), who inducted sportswriter Jerry Izenberg;
  • Garry W. Tallent (Neptune) of the E Street Band, who inducted The Smithereens;
  • Mets 3B Todd Frazier (Toms River) and 1969 Met Ed Kranepool, who inducted "Game of Thrones" creator and Mets fan George R.R. Martin; and
  • Governor Phil Murphy and former Governor Tom Kean.

During the event, Jon F. Hanson, Chairman of the New Jersey Hall of Fame Foundation, announced that its capital campaign had exceeded its $10 million goal and that a permanent museum will be built at the newly opened American Dream complex at the Meadowland next year. For years, the New Jersey Hall of Fame has had a mobile exhibit that visits schools across the state.

Other highlights included:

  • Martha Stewart said that before she became famous, she babysat Yogi Berra's kids, learned to bake from German-born bakers in Nutley, and skinned muskrats to sell the fur for coats.
  • Harry Carson told the crowd that his mother, who endured racism in the South and moved her family to Newark, was the member of his family who deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.
  • Jim Babjak, Dennis Diken and Mike Mesaros of The Smithereens were joined by Pat DiNizio's daughter, Liza, on stage. Babjak also read a message from the singer's mom, Antionette DiNizio, who still lives in Scotch Plains.
  • "Jaws" author Peter Benchley's widow, Winifred Wesson, recounted that she told her husband: "I don’t think a book about a shark makes much sense... Thank goodness he didn’t listen to me!”
  • George R. R. Martin admitted, "I wanted to be a baseball player, but I found out in Little League that I couldn't the curveball...I couldn't hit the fastball...I couldn't hit the slowball or the slider."
  • Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon in 1969, has attended all but two induction ceremonies in the NJ Hall of Fame's 11-year history.

The list of 2019 New Jersey Hall of Fame inductees:

ARTS AND LETTERS:

  • Author Peter Benchley*, Jaws (Pennington):
  • Sports columnist Jerry Izenberg, Star-Ledger sportswriter (Neptune):
  • Author, producer George R. R. Martin, Game of Thrones (Bayonne):
  • Celebrity photographer Timothy White (Fort Lee).

ENTERPRISE:

  • J. Fletcher Creamer Sr.*, construction contractor (Saddle River);
  • F.M. Kirby II*, Alleghany Corporation, F.M. Kirby Foundation (Harding);
  • Tim McLoone, restaurateur, musician, Renaissance Man (Little Silver);
  • Mary Roebling*, bank president and philanthropist (Trenton);
  • Arthur F. Ryan, Prudential Financial Group (Newark);
  • Martha Stewart, media mogul, businesswoman (Nutley).

PERFORMING ARTS:

  • Jason Alexander, Seinfeld (Livingston);
  • Southside Johnny Lyon (Neptune);
  • The Smithereens (Jim Babjak, Dennis Diken, Mike Mesaros, Carteret); and Pat DiNizio (Scotch Plains).

PUBLIC SERVICE:

  • Activist Elizabeth Allen*, New Jersey Education Association (Hoboken);
  • Physician, professor Victor Parsonnet (Newark);

SPORTS:

  • NY Giant Harry Carson, NFL Hall of Famer (Franklin Lakes);
  • Basketball player, coach Anne Donovan*, (Ridgewood);
  • Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Laurie Hernandez (Old Bridge);
  • NY Giant Bart Oates, broadcaster and attorney (Harding).

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The New Jersey Hall of Fame Selection Process

Residents of New Jersey are invited to recommend deserving New Jerseyans at any time, year round. Public recommendations will be taken into consideration by the selection committee when determining the top 100 nominees. Click here to recommend an inductee.

The selection committee determines a list of 100 potential nominees by October 1. The NJ Hall of Fame Academy narrows the master list down to 50 on or about Nov. 1, and then the public is invited to vote on the final nominations from on or about Nov. 15 through Dec. 5.

TAPinto is a media sponsor of the 2019 New Jersey Hall of Fame induction ceremony.