Saranac Lake Walk of Fame Expands | News, Sports, Jobs
SARANAC LAKE — The Village unveiled three new Walk of Fame plaques on Thursday — for Leslie Hoffman, William Morris and the New York Giants.
The Saranac Lake Walk of Fame began over ten years ago. The village typically adds one new plaque per year, but this year it added three to make up for time lost during the coronavirus pandemic. There are now 19 plaques in the city, with at least nine more names on the waiting list.
Outgoing mayor of the village, Clyde Rabideau, said he was walking in Memphis on Beale Street when he was struck with inspiration seeing the plaques lining the sidewalk. So he brought a similar walk here to the village.
Trustee Kelly Brunette said she plans to continue this tradition on the new village board and advocate for its funding in the village budget each year. Each bronze-coated plaque costs about $1,000, Rabideau said.
Leslie Hoffman, a Saranac Lake native who made a career in Hollywood as a prolific stuntwoman and labor leader, was at the Saranac Hotel for her plaque unveiling, along with a large number of friends and other residents of the village of Saranac in Will Rogers, where she lives.
After graduating from high school here in the 1970s, she took a job in Hollywood, jumping from heights, diving away from explosions and getting punched and shot. His stunts can be seen in some major movies and TV shows including MASH, Nightmare on Elm Street, Naked Gun, Love Boat, Clue and, of course, Star Trek.
Hoffman was the first stunt woman elected to the Screen Actors’ Guild Board of Directors in the 1980s. She crossed the “glass ceiling,” an appropriate action for a stuntwoman.
In her union role, Hoffman fought for better health coverage for stunt performers and for women to get more stunt roles.
“It’s good to be home and I’m extremely honored by the village,” Hoffman said as his plaque was unveiled amid the pouring rain.
She returned to Saranac Lake in 2016.
“I should do what they do at the Oscars, not the longest speech, but the shortest speech,” said Hoffman. “Thank you all.”
Fellow Will Rogers resident Gail Wrenn circulated a petition to have Hoffman inducted into the Walk of Fame last year. On Thursday, Wrenn said the Oscars should add a stunt category. There are currently no Oscars for stunt performers.
Hoffman had wanted her plaque on the Saranac Hotel and was grateful to Fred Roedel, co-owner of Roedel Companies, owner of the Saranac Hotel, for agreeing. The Roedel family even helped fund part of the cost of the plaque.
“The hotel has been an important part of the Hoffman family,” said Hoffman.
She began performing and dancing at Odd Fellows Hall on Main Street, where the Saranac Hotel parking lot is now located.
His first memory at the hotel was a visit to barber Gus Nyberg in his downstairs barbershop. Over the years, she celebrates her brothers’ bar mitzvahs there and sees her father, an avid bridge player, play with his club at the hotel.
Brunette said that Hoffman is a “legendary woman” and his plaque is on a “legendary building”.
“I have two young girls who can walk past this plaque and dream big,” Brown said. “Saranac Lake is a decidedly different community and this is a perfect example of that.”
A place to play
William Morris’ plaque was unveiled at the Adirondack Carousel on the corner of Bloomingale Avenue and Church Street, where the theater agent and philanthropist had founded a nursery years ago.
Morris is best known for founding a talent agency called William Morris Agency – now renamed Endeavor – which represented big names like Will Rogers and Charlie Chaplin at the time and is still around.
In 1902 he came to Saranac Lake to recover from tuberculosis. He lived at the Algonquin Hotel for three years and returned often after returning to New York.
He built camps in the area and his wife, Emma, also founded the Saranac Lake Milk Fund. The Morrises founded and led many national and local organizations.
Morris cheated death on several occasions – beating tuberculosis at Saranac Lake and canceling voyages on the ill-fated Titanic and Lusitania ships – but finally died in 1932 of a heart attack while playing pinochle with friends At New York.
Shawn Boyer said he remembered playing in the park. His mother, Diana, was a park ranger for many years. Boyer said he hopes the park will hold events like before.
Rabideau pointed out that Morris helped found the Will Rogers Memorial Hospital, a home for actors with tuberculosis, which is now the community where Hoffman lives.
The New York Giants
The New York Giants plaque at the Downhill Grill commemorates the 1949 season when the NFL team practiced at Saranac Lake.
For three years, the Philadelphia Eagles had a training camp at Petrova Field in the Village. A plaque for the Eagles was added to the march in 2017. One year the Giants rented the camp.
“When they arrived by train on Depot Street, 1,500 people greeted them,” said Rabideau.
The Enterprise reported at the time that the train was an hour late, but no one left to go about their business until the fifty or so players arrived. For the month of August, Saranac Lakers treated the G-Men like royalty.
Phil “Berth” Griffin said he remembered seeing the Giants throw the ball and said the players took the time to show the youngsters how to hold the ball.
Rabideau said two names on the 1949 Giants roster stood out for him — tackle Carl Butkus, who Rabideau said was not related to legendary linebacker Dick Butkus, and guard Joe Sulaitis, the only player who did not play college ball.
Other names on the Walk of Fame include Bill Demong, Andrea Kilbourne-Hill, Chris Mazdzer, Bela Bartok, Edward Livingston Trudeau, Christy Mathewson, Herb Clark, Maurice Kenny, Larry Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, Faye Dunaway, Philadelphia Eagles, Garry Trudeau, Albert Einstein and Rene Joyeuse.