EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., April 23, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The New Jersey Hall of Fame has announced 50 nominees in five categories – Arts & Letters, Enterprise, Performing Arts, Public Service, and Sports. Public voting is now underway online at www.NJHallofFame.org/2015-nominees. The 8th class of inductees will be announced early this summer. This year's induction gala is expected to return this October to the Asbury Park's Convention Hall on a date soon to be announced.

New Jersey Hall of Fame Commission Chairman Bart Oates, captain of the 1986 Super Bowl champion Giants, described these nominees for 2015 induction as "a stellar group of New Jersey greats from a wide range of fields. These are exemplary high-achievers reflecting everything that is best about New Jersey."

The public is encouraged to visit the Hall of Fame website above to cast a vote for a nominee in each of the five categories listed below.


Samuel Leeds Allen, inventor of the Flexible Flyer sled; Doris Duke, horticulturalist, art collector, and philanthropist; Freeman Dyson, theoretical physicist and mathematician; William Fox, producer and founder of Fox Motion Pictures; Bruce S. Gordon, corporate executive and former head of the NAACP; Lewis Katz, corporate executive, news publisher, and owner of the NJ Devils and NJ Nets; Bernard Marcus, co-founder and former CEO of Home Depot; Victor Parsonnet, famous cardiac surgeon, major contributor in fields of cardiology and pacemaker technology, and the co-founder of two major heart associations; John A. Roebling, civil engineer, originated the wire rope suspension bridge he used to build the Brooklyn Bridge; and Sara Spencer Washington, celebrated African-American businesswoman of the early 20th century named as one of the "Most Distinguished Businesswomen" at 1939 World's Fair in NYC.


The Isley Brothers, chart-topping musical group, and a 1992 inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame; Kool & the Gang, 70 million album selling musical group with smash hits favoring R&B jazz, and funk influences; Ernie Kovacs, comedic innovator on early television, dubbed as "TV's Original Genius" who died in a car accident at the height of his popularity in 1962; Nathan Lane, award winning actor of blockbusters, both stage and screen; Eddie Murphy, award-winning comedian and actor who rose to fame on SNL and in blockbuster movies; Joe Pesci, academy award winning film actor and musician; Nelson Riddle, famed musical arranger, composer, and bandleader who contributed to the success of many including Tommy Dorsey, Frank Sinatra, and Ella Fitzgerald; Jon Stewart, award-winning political satirist, comedian, writer, and director who is the founding anchor of the Daily Show on Comedy Central; Flip Wilson, famed comedian and actor whose weekly variety TV series, The Flip Wilson Show, earned him Emmys and Golden Globes; and Teresa Wright, mid-20th century actress who won multiple Academy and Emmy awards for her work in film and TV.


Dr. William Neal Brown, first African-American hired to Rutgers' faculty and a Tuskegee airman; Robert Lee Carter, civil rights activist and judge who co-founded the National Conference of Black Lawyers, and presented oral arguments in the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case; James H. Coleman, Jr., NJ's first African-American justice on the state's supreme court; Dorothea Dix, social activist of the 19th century who fought for the insane and lobbied successfully for creation of the first U.S. insane asylums; Carla Harris, author, speaker, and gospel singer; Thelma C. Hurd, 20th century leader in education who pioneered academic excellence and orderly behavior in her schools; Jack H. Jacobs, TV military analyst, a retired U.S. Army colonel, and Medal of Honor recipient for his actions during the Vietnam War; Frank Lautenberg, U.S. Senator representing New Jersey from 1982 to 2001, and from 2003 until his death in 2013; John S. Rock, a 19th century teacher, doctor, dentist, lawyer and abolitionist, he was the first black person to be admitted to the bar of the U.S. Supreme Court, and is historically associated with coining the term "black is beautiful;" and Irene Hill-Smith, celebrated activist, elementary educator, humanitarian, civil rights leader, who advised governors and presidents.


James J. Braddock, famed Heavy Weight Champion boxer in the 1930s upon whom the movie Cinderella Man (2005) is based; Dick Button, two-time Olympic figure skating champion who dominated the sport as a competitor in the 40s and 50s and later became a long-time TV analyst; Stanley Dancer, Harness Racing Hall of Famer; Leon Allen "Goose" Goslin, Baseball Hall of Fame outfielder from the early 20th century; Roosevelt "Rosey" Grier, NFL great and social activist who was part of the LA Rams' legendary defensive line, the "Fearsome Foursome;" Derek Jeter, all-time Yankees hits leader, long-time team captain, and perennial MLB all-star; Sharon Pfluger, celebrated lacrosse and field hockey coach at The College of New Jersey, whose .901 winning percentage in lacrosse is the best in NCAA history at any level; Bill Raftery, top network basketball sportscaster and former head coach for 11 seasons at Seton Hall; Christie Rampone, professional soccer all-star and captain of the U.S. Women's National Soccer team, she's played in four FIFA World Cup finals and four Olympics winning gold in three of them; and Dick Vitale, celebrated network basketball sportscaster and analyst following a career in coaching at all levels including the NBA's Detroit Pistons.


James Fenimore Cooper, popular novelist of the early 20th century, including Last of the Mohicans; Junot Díaz, fiction writer, and winner of the 2008 Pulitzer for Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao; Gaetano Federici, famed Italian sculpture artist, whose adopted Paterson, NJ boasts 40 of his works in close proximity to its city hall; Fran Lebowitz, author and public speaker famous for her sardonic social commentary; John McPhee, non-fiction author awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1999 who teaches at Princeton; George Price, the renowned cartoonist for the New Yorker for nearly six decades beginning in 1932; Anna Quindlen, best-selling author and journalist whose New York Times column won her the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1992; William H. Scheide, philanthropist who died last year at 100 and whose extraordinary personal library of collected books and manuscripts was donated to Princeton; George Theophilus Walker, celebrated award-winning composer who in 1996 was first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music; and Edmund Wilson, winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, great 20th century literary critic, writer, essayist, and editor of magazines and newspapers.

Although created through bipartisan unanimous legislation, the New Jersey Hall of Fame is supported exclusively through private donations.

Please visit www.NJHallofFame.org to read and view more about this year's nominees.

About the New Jersey Hall of Fame

The New Jersey Hall of Fame was created to honor citizens who have made invaluable contributions to society and the world beyond. The Hall of Fame reinforces the message to children that they can and should strive for excellence in any endeavor of their choosing. By presenting significant and powerful role models and teaching young people about the voting process, the Hall of Fame is a source of learning, inspiration and hope for children. The New Jersey Hall of Fame is a designated 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with two collaborating boards working jointly: the New Jersey Hall of Fame Board of Commissioners, administered the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority, and the New Jersey Hall of Fame Foundation Board of Trustees.

Norris Clark