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2003 Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards Bios

January 1st, 2003

Bob Hope, among the most famous of Ellis Island immigrants, was born Leslie Townes Hope in Eltham, England. He emigrated to America with his family, arriving on March 30, 1908. He began performing in vaudeville in the 1920s, made his Broadway debut in 1933, and his radio program appeared in some form or another from 1938 until the 1950s. Hope was a huge hit in Hollywood and on television, and remained one of the top 10 box office stars throughout the 1940s and 1950s. His legendary USO shows entertained generations of U.S. troops and earned him the title of “Ambassador of Good Will.” His beloved annual Christmas specials aired every year from 1953 to 1994. A favorite performer of a string of U.S. presidents beginning with Franklin D. Roosevelt, Hope received an honorary knighthood in 1998 from Elizabeth II. Hope has been married to actress Dolores Reade since 1934, and the couple has four children. Hope will celebrate his 100th birthday in May, 2003.

SPORTS: Yogi Berra
In 1946, Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra stepped up to the plate at Yankee Stadium for the first time and smacked a home run, launching one of the greatest careers in baseball history. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in ‘72, Yogi's numbers speak for themselves -- 358 career home runs, 3 M.V.P.s, 15 All-Star games, and 10 World Championships. From July 28, 1957 to May 10, 1959, Yogi established a record by catching 148 consecutive games without an error, pulling off an unbelievable 950 chances. With explosive batting and stellar defense, Yogi gave the team everything he had. At age 37, he caught all 22 innings of a grueling seven-hour marathon against Detroit. The son of Ellis Island immigrants, his father Pietro arrived at Ellis Island on October 18, 1909 from Milano, Italy. Yogi is one of the most popular and loved of all Yankee greats.

This grandson of Ellis Island immigrants is a pioneering AIDS researcher and scientific leader, and has been one of the world’s leading physician-scientists for over three decades. A Brooklyn native, Dr. Fauci trained at Cornell University-New York Hospital. He has remained dedicated to groundbreaking research at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health for over 34 years, serving as director since 1984. His early work included the development of now-standard therapies for once-fatal rheumatic diseases, and he has since won international recognition working to develop effective therapies for AIDS and other diseases affecting the immune system. His team’s HIV research papers were the most-cited worldwide from 1993 to 1995. He has also served as a government spokesman on bio-terrorism, and is spearheading the drive for vaccines to prevent the HIV virus, smallpox, anthrax and the Ebola virus. Dr. Fauci’s grandfather, Antonino, arrived at Ellis Island on July 19, 1900 from Sciacca, Italy.

A true exemplar of the “Greatest Generation”, Sgt. Abie Abraham was profiled in Hampton Sides’ best-selling book Ghost Soldiers. The son of a Syrian Ellis Island immigrant, who arrived in America on May 18, 1902, Sgt. Abraham fought with distinction in the Pacific Theater of World War II. Captured by the Imperial Japanese Army, Abraham’s regiment endured the infamous Bataan Death March. In the succeeding years of captivity, over 4,000 of Abraham’s fellow P.O.W.s died in brutal and inhumane conditions. Abraham did his best to record the names, origins and messages of the dead and dying, braving torture and death to maintain his records on can labels and paper scraps. Following his 1945 liberation, Abraham stayed in the Philippines to help recover and identify the remains of his fellow soldiers. Ultimately, he became the only American soldier who fought at Bataan to be on hand for the Japanese surrender.

Former model Cicely Tyson is a star of the stage, screen and film, acclaimed for her portrayal of strong female characters. She traces her family roots from St. Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean—her mother, Fredricka Huggins, arrived at Ellis Island on October 22, 1917 and her father, William Tyson, arrived on August 4, 1919. She became well-known as a regular cast member of the dramatic television series “East Side, West Side” (1963-1964). Her film credits include The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1968), Fried Green Tomatoes (1991), and Sounder (1972), for which she received an Oscar nomination. She is best known for her television performances in the Roots miniseries (1977), and her Emmy-award winning roles in the television movies The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1974) and Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All (1994).

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