A handful of Bay Area notables whose accomplishments include Star Wars, steamy novels and major advances in gay rights are being inducted into the California Hall of Fame today.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and California First Lady Maria Shriver will honor 13 Californians at a ceremony this evening in Sacramento, including seven with Bay Area ties.
The inclusion of slain San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person elected to major public office in the U.S., has garnered particular attention. Fellow Supervisor Dan White assassinated Milk, along with Mayor George Moscone, in November 1978. The story of Milk’s life was made into a movie last year, winning two Academy Awards.
In a statement, state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, applauded Milk’s inclusion in the Hall of Fame, saying Milk “played an important role in our state, nation and world.”
“Harvey gave his life for what he believed in, and in doing so gave hope to generations of LGBT Californians who continue to struggle for full equality,” Leno said.
In October, Schwarzenegger signed a bill designating May 22 as Harvey Milk Day statewide, which Leno originally sponsored.
Milk joins a half-dozen other Bay Area figures being honored this evening. Inductees also include romance novelist and San Francisco resident Danielle Steel; longtime Oakland Raiders coach and sports broadcaster John Madden, and filmmaker George Lucas, whose company Industrial Light and Magic is headquartered in San Francisco’s Presidio.
According to The California Museum, the Hall of Fame honors “legendary people who embody California’s innovative spirit and have made their mark on history.” It was established by Shriver in 2006.
Henry J. Kaiser will also be inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame.
Most Californians associate Kaiser’s name with the behemoth Kaiser Permanente health care system. However, he amassed a fortune as an industrialist, operating four shipyards in Richmond during World War II and playing a major role in constructing the Bay Bridge, according to his official California Museum biography.
Another inductee, Hiram Johnson, served as California governor between 1911 and 1917, but began his public service career in 1908 as a prosecutor in San Francisco. Microchip developer Andy Grove, who earned a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley, and taught at UCB and Stanford University, will also be honored.
The other inductees are entertainer Carol Burnett, decathlete and philanthropist Rafer Johnson, philanthropist Joan Kroc, artist Fritz Scholder, body builder Joe Weider and Air Force test pilot Gen. Chuck Yeager.