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2012 Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards

April 19th, 2012


April 19, 2012 (Ellis Island, NY) - Today in the historic Great Hall on Ellis Island three esteemed individuals were honored by The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. for the contributions they have made to this "Nation of Immigrants."

Celebrating the 120th year of Ellis Island, the 11th Annual Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards were hosted by NBC's Meredith Vieira in an 11:00 a.m. ceremony. This year's event featured an opening tribute to R.M.S. Titanic, marking the centennial of the maritime tragedy.

The 2012 Ellis Island Family Heritage Award recipients are:

Born in Tampa, Florida, where his paternal grandparents had settled after arriving from Sicily through Ellis Island in 1906, Tony La Russa spent 32 years at the helm of the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, and St. Louis Cardinals, winning six league championships and three World Series titles. A staunch advocate for animal rescue, he and his family founded ARF (Animal Rescue Foundation) in 1991, which aids abandoned animals and uses them to rescue people in need.

RICHARD MEIER - The Arts/Architecture
This Pritzker Prize-winning architect, born in Newark, New Jersey, landed "the commission of the century" designing the Getty Center in Los Angeles. His distinct style of uncompromising minimalism enhances the cityscape from Atlanta to Barcelona to Rome. His maternal grandfather Joseph Kaltenbacher, cofounder of Seton Leather in Newark, came from Germany through Ellis Island in 1896.

ANGELA LANSBURY - B.C. Forbes Peopling of America® Award - Entertainment
This beloved London-born actress, currently on Broadway in Gore Vidal's "The Best Man," fled Britain with her family in 1940, just days before the London blitz. A star of film, stage and television for seven decades, Ms. Lansbury has received five Tonys, six Golden Globes, three Oscar nominations, and over 15 Emmy nominations. The "Murder She Wrote" star became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1951.

Each honoree received a framed copy of the original ship's passenger manifest documenting the arrival of their family through Ellis Island or another port of entry. The Foundation's database of ship's passenger records available online at and in the American Family Immigration History Center® at Ellis Island documents the arrival of the more than 17 million immigrants, as well as travelers and crew members, who came through Ellis Island and the Port of New York between 1892-1924.

The Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards are given annually to a select number of immigrants or their descendants to celebrate the Golden Door to America for the 17 million immigrants who came through the Port of New York and Ellis Island. The B.C. Forbes Peopling of America® Award, sponsored by the Forbes Family, honors immigrants who arrived at another time or through another port of entry.

About The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc.
The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit organization founded in 1982 to raise funds for and oversee the historic restorations of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, working in partnership with the National Park Service/U.S. Department of the Interior. Its endowment has funded over 200 projects at the islands.

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Suzanne Mannion (201) 445-8451 / (201) 725-0471 

Elizabeth Oravetz (212) 561-4542

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