It’s time for the induction of our second class of Pop Culture Hall of Famers.
It’s a personal tribute to those who made contributions in music, the movies, athletics, television, politics and culture in general. To be eligible for our Hall of Fame, these individuals have to do more than simply excel in their fields. They must have transcended generations and made a distinct impact on society while doing so.
The envelopes, please:
Music: Mick Jagger
Comment: For parts of five decades, Mick has been shaking, singing and strutting. In some circles, the Rolling Stones always be considered second string to the Beatles. But here’s the bottom line, it’s 2009 and Mick and the Stones are still with us, and the Beatles broke up in 1970. Jagger and the Stones’ influence has now been felt by three separate generations. That is some kind of cultural Satisfaction.
Past Inductee: Bruce Springsteen.
Movies: Clint Eastwood
Comment: Clint is, in many ways, the Mick Jagger of movies. He’s been Dirty Harry, the Outlaw Josey Wales and most recently, Walt Kowalski in the classic “Gran Torino.” Eastwood’s appeal has been to all ages and both sexes. He’s 78 years old and as relevant today as an actor and director as he was in 10, 20, 30, 40 or more years ago. Whoever thought the guy who first came to the public’s eye as Rowdy Yates in “Rawhide” would have made this kind of impact?
Past Inductee: Paul Newman.
Athletics: Michael Jordan
Comment: They say Magic Johnson and Larry Bird saved the NBA, raising it from a near-bankrupt entity scorned by the public in general and mostly ignored by the nation’s sports fans. After that process was complete it was Michael who helped lift the league to worldwide phenomenon status. His private life proved he was far from perfect, but on a basketball court he was incomparable. He defined greatness and defied gravity.
Past Inductee: Jackie Robinson
Politics: Barack Obama
Comment: In roughly two years, Obama has gone from virtual unknown to the most celebrated politician in the world. The impact of Obama will never be able to be truly measured, because his true legacy will arguably be the inspiration he provided – to generations past, present and future. And he may have already established some sort of record for appearing on the most covers of major magazines.
Past Inductee: John F. Kennedy.
Television: Jerry Seinfeld
Comment: He was the mastermind of the most successful and popular sitcom in history. Without Jerry, there would never have been a George, Elaine or Kramer. And what made “Seinfeld” even more of a national treasure was the decision to pull the plug at the height of its popularity. “Seinfeld” has been off the air for more than a decade, and remains (almost) as popular in syndication and DVD sales as it was in its heyday.
Past Inductee: Carroll O’Connor.
Culture: Tiger Woods
Comment: Tiger Woods surpasses being a mere golf superstar. He has succeeded Michael Jordan as the world’s most marketable and recognized athlete, but what impresses me most goes back to his principal platform — the game of golf itself. He respects the game and its heritage. A classic case in point came Sunday after his stirring comeback to win the event at Bay Hill. When he talked with host Arnold Palmer only minutes after sinking the winning put, the microphone picked up their brief, yet oh-so-revealing conversation. Palmer paid homage to Tiger’s comeback, to which Woods added some of his own golfing words. Then he looked directly at Arnold and said, “Thank you, sir.” Did you catch that? “Sir.” That, friends, is a class act.
Past Inductee: J.K. Rowling