UNION, NJ — Award-winning Hollywood actor and Union High School Class of 1973 graduate Ray Liotta was recently inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame during a lavish red carpet ceremony that took place on May 7 in Asbury Park. Liotta entered the prestigious hall alongside 13 other Garden State greats who included musician/actor Wyclef Jean, talk-show queen Kelly Ripa, groundbreaking news anchor Connie Chung, author Carol Higgins Clark, boxing titan Chuck Wepner, NFL icon Rosey Grier and rocker Tommy James. The current roster represented a variety of official Hall of Fame categories such as Arts & Letters, Enterprise, Performing Arts, Public Service and Sports, with several inductees being honored posthumously.
This was the ninth annual New Jersey Hall of Fame celebration and it incorporated the use of several adjoining Jersey Shore landmarks into the lengthy but star-studded afternoon/evening event. An actual red carpet was rolled out and up the boardwalk, leading the inductees and various VIP guests into the Grand Arcade, where dozens of major network and local media outlets were stationed inside to take photographs and conduct interviews. An elaborate pre-induction party was held inside Convention Hall, embellished by the soaring sounds of the youthful Paper Mill Playhouse Broadway Choir. Ticket holders were then ushered into the nearby entrance of the Paramount Theatre for the official commencement of the inductions.
Liotta was introduced by childhood friend and fellow UHS classmate Gene Laguna, whereupon both gentlemen recalled personal hometown memories involving the Five Points Galloping Hill hot dog stand, local sports and Kawameeh Junior High School, as it was called at the time. Liotta has built an impressive and durable career in Hollywood spanning the past four decades, including memorable roles in “Goodfellas,” “Field of Dreams,” “Cop Land” and “Unlawful Entry,” just to name a few. He can currently be seen co-starring with Jennifer Lopez in the hit police drama series called “Shades of Blue” on NBC.
Previous celebrity inductees have included Bruce Springsteen, Frank Sinatra, Susan Sarandon, Bruce Willis, Queen Latifah, John Travolta, Tony Bennett, Meryl Streep, Jack Nicholson, Jon Stewart, Derek Jeter, James Gandolfini, Dionne Warwick, Jerry Lewis, Jon Bon Jovi and Danny DeVito. The primary goal of the Hall of Fame commission is to “celebrate our state, honor our legends and inspire our children by inducting those individuals who exemplify the best of New Jersey in their chosen fields of interest.”