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blank Anthony 'Tony' La Russa, Jr. Richard Meier Angela Lansbury blank
Tony La Russa Richard Meier Angela Lansbury

On April 19, 2012 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, which opened in 1892, the 11th Annual Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards were hosted by NBC’s Meredith Vieira in an 11:00 a.m. ceremony at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. This year’s Awards featured an opening tribute to R.M.S. Titanic, marking the centennial of the maritime tragedy.

The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation presents the Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards to celebrate the Golden Door to America for the 17 million immigrants who came to this country through the Port of New York and Ellis Island. The B.C. Forbes Peopling of America® Award, sponsored by the Forbes Family, honors the lives of immigrants who arrived at another time or through another port of entry. Each year, a select number of these immigrants or their descendants are chosen through a process that is guided by an Awards Committee of the Foundation’s Board of Directors.

2012 Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards video

The 2012 Ellis Island Family Heritage Award recipients are:

Anthony "Tony" La Russa, Jr.
Mr. La Russa was born in Tampa, Florida, where his paternal grandparents had settled after arriving from Sicily thru Ellis Island in 1906. As an infielder, Mr. La Russa began his career with the Kansas City Athletics in 1963. Turning to managing in 1979, he became one of the longest tenured managers in the history of MLB. He spent 32 years at the helm of the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, and St. Louis Cardinals, where he topped the Cards' managerial win list with 1,408 victories. He ranks third in all-time major league wins by a manager, holding six league championships and three World Series titles, most recently with the Cardinals in 2011. A staunch advocate for animal rescue, Tony La Russa, his wife Elaine and their daughters founded ARF (Animal Rescue Foundation) in 1991, which aids homeless and abandoned animals and uses them to rescue people in need.

Richard Meier
Born in Newark, New Jersey, Mr. Meier is a Pritzker Prize-winning architect who landed "the commission of the century," designing the Getty Center in Los Angeles. His distinct style of uncompromising minimalism has garnered him 10 honorary degrees and numerous design awards as well as the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal in 1997. He has taught at many universities including Princeton, Harvard and UCLA. With current projects underway in Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America and his hometown, he serves on the Board of Directors of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and the American Academy in Rome. His maternal grandfather - a leather tannery owner - Joseph Kaltenbacher, emigrated from Germany through Ellis Island in 1896.

Angela Lansbury
This beloved London-born actress, currently on Broadway in Gore Vidal's "The Best Man," began her ascendance up the ranks of American entertainment history shortly after her family evacuated to New York City in 1940, just days before the London blitz. Her first of over 50 films, "Gaslight," won her an Oscar nomination. Since then, she has been a star of film, stage and television for seven decades, garnering her five Tonys, six Golden Globes, three Oscar nominations, and over 15 Emmy nominations. In 1994, Queen Elizabeth II appointed her Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to the dramatic arts. She is also a recipient of the National Medal of Arts and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2000. Ms. Lansbury became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1951.

Photos from the 2012 Ellis Island Heritage Awards

More on Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards

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