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Famous Brooklyn Alumni -- Revealed!

Feb 16, 2012 5:00 PM | 0 comments

Earlier this week I presented a Brooklyn Collection puzzler for our readers to solve.  I presented four blurred-out high school yearbook photographs of now-prominent former Brooklynites, along with a clue to their identity.  Hundreds, no, thousands, no, a small number of you responded with your guesses, and now is the moment of truth.  Prepare to be amazed!

Alumna #1

Clue: This petite, plucky actress was a singer at Lafayette High School, and after graduating in 1964 went on to gain fame not for singing sweet melodies, but for cracking wise on a popular TV sitcom.

Answer: Rhea Perlman

Perhaps best known for her character Carla Tortelli, the tough-talking waitress on the sitcom Cheers who was always ready with a pointed jibe, Perlman grew up in the Bensonhurst neighborhood.  Although her yearbook entry declared that she was headed for Brooklyn College, Perlman actually ended up at Hunter College in Manhattan, where she studied acting, of course.

Alumnus #2

Clue:  This graduate of Sheepshead Bay High School, class of 1965, may lack the long roster of achievements enjoyed by many of his classmates, but he more than made up for it in his professional life, as an Emmy-winning writer for one of TV's most popular sitcoms. 

Answer: Larry David

Perhaps this one was too easy.  Well-known and adored now for his hit show Curb Your Enthusiasm, David first left his indelible mark on American culture as a writer for Seinfeld, and as the inspiration for the character George Costanza.  This quote from David pretty well sums up his comedic persona as well as his memories of his youth in Sheepshead Bay: "I had a wonderful childhood, which is tough because it's hard to adjust to a miserable adulthood."

Alumna #3

Clue: This ambitious student served as both Class Treasurer and Class President during her time at James Madison High School, from which she graduated in 1960.  Knowing the path her professional life would follow, it comes as no surprise that she readily took on the mantle of authority at so young an age.

Answer:  Judith Blum, now known as Judith Sheindlin, best known as Judge Judy

Judge Judy was in good company at James Madison High School, which has graduated several other notables in its long history, including the actor Martin Landau, Senator Bernard Sanders, Senator Charles Schumer, and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  We happen to have, in our ephemera files, the program from Ruth Bader's graduation ceremony, in 1950. 

Ms. Bader was listed throughout the program for her many achievements in high school, including a spot on the honor roll:

Alumnus #4

Clue: This graduate from Lafayette High School's class of 1951 had big dreams of becoming a radio announcer after finishing college, and would indeed become famous for his gift of gab. 

Answer: Lawrence Zeiger, now known as Larry King

King's yearbook entry listed his future plans to be become a radio announcer, and according to the Museum of Broadcast Communications, King did indeed set a world record in 1989 for logging more hours on national radio than any other announcer in history.  His popular TV talk show, Larry King Live, debuted in 1985 and ran for 25 years.

Well, that was fun, wasn't it?  I have to admit that before I even started researching this post and tracking down yearbook images, there were a few celebrities I hoped to find hiding on our shelves.  Where is the Erasmus Hall High School senior class photo of silken-voice chanteuse Barbra Streisand?  We don't have it.  How about a pre-Hulk shot of Lou Ferrigno at Brooklyn Technical High School?  We don't have it.  Any yearbooks from Abraham Lincoln High School, which saw the likes of Arthur Miller, Mel Brooks, and Harvey Keitel pass through its hallowed halls?  Nope. 

If you have Brooklyn yearbooks from any year collecting dust on your shelf at home, please consider donating them to the Brooklyn Collection, where they will not only serve as fodder for fun puzzlers like this one, but will also do more valuable work as tools for genealogists trying to track their family history.  Your embarrassing senior class photo could be another person's cherished link with the past!