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11 Are Named to State Hall of Fame

Times Staff Writer

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver on Monday unveiled the first honorees for a new California Hall of Fame they hope will become a permanent fixture at the state museum in Sacramento.

The honorees include 11 Californians and two prominent California families, the Hearsts and the Packards, who were deemed “trailblazers and legends.”

Shriver said the award is designed to highlight “people who really started from nothing and who changed the world.”

The group includes former President and California Gov. Ronald Reagan, farmworker activist Cesar Chavez, naturalist John Muir, pilot Amelia Earhart, pioneering AIDS researcher David Ho, tennis star Billie Jean King, astronaut Sally Ride, writer Alice Walker, actor Clint Eastwood, Walt Disney and architect Frank Gehry, who designed the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.

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Shriver said she hoped their stories would inspire people “to make their own marks on history.”

In a statement, former First Lady Nancy Reagan said she was deeply honored. “Ronnie’s life embodied the California dream, and he loved this state with all his heart,” she said.

Hall of Fame honorees did not have to be California natives. Muir, for one, was born in Scotland. But few people brought more attention to the state’s spectacular scenery than Muir, who championed Yosemite National Park and other natural wonders.

The Hearst family was singled out for its philanthropic work and its giant print media empire, as well as the building of Hearst Castle in San Simeon.

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David and Lucile Packard were described as “the architects behind one of the century’s most successful technological enterprises,” Hewlett-Packard.

Shriver conceived of the Hall of Fame as part of a continuing transformation of the California Museum for History, Women and the Arts, a Sacramento institution that has in the past struggled to find funding, an audience and a direction.

Honorees will be part of an exhibit at the museum and on Dec. 6 they or their relatives will receive a “Spirit of California” gold medal designed by Venice artist Robert Graham.

The honorees were chosen by Schwarzenegger, based on recommendations from former state librarian Kevin Starr, museum officials, the California Arts Council, the state librarian, the state archivist and Shriver’s staff. About a dozen honorees will be selected each year by the governor, Shriver said.

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The medals are not the first awards created by the first couple. The governor started the Arnold Classic in Ohio, which culminates in an awards competition for the best-sculpted bodies. Shriver created the Minerva Awards, which honor successful women from California, and introduced them in 2004 at the annual Governor’s Conference for Women, held in Long Beach.

The Hall of Fame is being funded by Bank of America, which provided a grant of $400,000.

Before Shriver spoke, Schwarzenegger lavished praise on her.

She sidled up to him, as if embarrassed, but he teased her.

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“I know, Maria, you told me to say all those things,” he said. “Go ahead, act it out.”


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