Our Walk of Fame is an ongoing initiative to celebrate and honor Minnesotans who have earned national and international recognition in the entertainment and film/television industry. Last summer to kick off this project, we honored three actors with public events and receptions. The next step, similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, was to permanently recognize them with an artist-designed, terrazzo plaque imbedded in the Hennepin Avenue sidewalk.
Our first three honorees are actresses Marion Ross, Tippi Hedren and Loni Anderson. Marion Ross is best known for her role in the television sitcom “Happy Days” where she played the mother, Marion Cunningham. Ross grew up in Waconia and Albert Lea and attended Southwest High School and MacPhail Center for the Arts. She appeared on Broadway and has numerous films to her credit. Tippi Hedren (born Nathalia Kay Hedren) is probably best known for her roles in Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” and “Marnie.” Hedren was born in New Ulm and attended West High School until moving to California in her junior year. She is also the mother of actress Melanie Griffith and an avid animal rights advocate. Loni Anderson grew up in New Brighton and Shoreview. She attended Alexander Ramsay High School, where she was the Valentine Queen, followed by her coronation as Miss Roseville and later was named a Miss Minnesota runner up. She is best known for her role as Jennifer, the lovely blonde secretary, on the TV show “WKRP Cincinnati.”
We’re now planning for our next round of honorees and hope to have upwards of 60 stars along Hennepin Avenue by the time we complete the project.
So, why should you care about these stars? There are three good reasons. First, it’s important to recognize the accomplishments of Minnesotans. By celebrating our own, we connect with one another and create community spirit around the positive. Second, publicly honoring successful Minnesotans inspires us all, especially young people who gain role models to emulate in sports, science, business or, in this instance, acting careers in the entertainment industry. Third, our Walk of Fame will create a more attractive, interesting and dynamic pedestrian environment. How wonderful would it be to have self-guided tours of the Walk of Fame?
Tom Hoch is President and CEO of Hennepin Theatre Trust, owner of the historic State, Orpheum and Pantages Theatres, a non-profit organization devoted to enriching the vibrant cultural atmosphere of the Twin Cities. Please visit www.HennepinTheatreTrust.org for more information.