SACRAMENTO – Gov. Jerry Brown and First Lady Anne Gust Brown joined the California Museum to award the Spirit of California medal to eight Californians inducted into the California Hall of Fame on Oct. 28.
This year’s inductees, who exemplify California’s spirit of innovation, are: acclaimed actor Robert Downey Jr., celebrated artist David Hockney, journalist and news anchor Lester Holt, martial arts superstar Bruce Lee, space pioneer Ellen Ochoa, country music icon Buck Owens, legendary cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, and Olympic gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi.
“California continuously reinvents itself and the people we honor have that combination of tradition, innovation and, of course, creativity,” said Brown.
Inductees and family members of posthumous inductees received the Spirit of California medal from the governor and first lady in the official state ceremony at the California Museum in downtown Sacramento.
In addition to receiving the Spirit of California medal, inductees are being commemorated with an exhibit of personal artifacts highlighting their lives and achievements, which opened on Oct. 29 and runs through Aug. 28, 2016.
This year’s medal recipients join 88 Californians previously inducted into the California Hall of Fame for making remarkable achievements across a variety of California industries and areas of influence, including science, philanthropy, sports, business, entertainment, literature, technology, activism and politics.
For more information, visit www.CaliforniaMuseum.org/california-hall-fame.
Born in 1971 in Hayward and raised in Fremont, Yamaguchi has been an inspiration to millions of fans around the world for her athletic achievements and for continually giving back to the community.
Following her gold medal win at the 1992 Winter Olympics, Yamaguchi founded the Always Dream Foundation to support children through educational and recreational initiatives.
As a professional skater, she toured with Stars on Ice from 1992-2002, won numerous professional competitions and appeared on television specials. During the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, she was the goodwill ambassador and performed in both the opening and closing ceremonies. In addition, she has been a spokesperson for National Skating Month and worked with U.S. Figure Skating to encourage people to skate for fun and fitness.
In 1996, Yamaguchi was named Skater of the Year by American Skating World magazine. She has appeared on International Figure Skating magazine’s annual “25 Most Influential Names in Figure Skating” list several times and was named the most influential person in the sport for the 2001-02 seasons.
She was named to the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame and the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame and was inducted into the USOC Olympic Hall of Fame. In 2008, she received the prestigious Thurman Munson Award and the Asian Excellence Award. In 2011, she was awarded the Legacy for Children Award from Children’s Discovery Museum and was inducted into the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame by the San Jose Sports Authority.
Yamaguchi was the champion on the sixth season of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” receiving perfect marks with dance partner Mark Ballas for their final three dances. She also is the New York Times best-selling author of two children’s books, “Dream Big, Little Pig” and “It’s a Big World, Little Pig.”
She is married to former NHL Stanley Cup champion Bret Hedican and is the mother of two girls.
Born in 1940, Lee was one of the most influential martial artists of all time. He became an iconic figure known throughout the world when he starred in a series of martial arts films that showcased his incredible physical talents.
Lee was born in San Francisco; his parents were in the city because his father was on tour with the Chinese Opera. Raised in Hong Kong, he began appearing in Chinese films as a child and by the time he was 18 had appeared in 20 films. At 13, he began studying martial arts with Wing Chun Master Yip Man.
Lee moved back to the U.S. in 1959, where he attended college. He supported himself by teaching martial arts at schools he established in Seattle, Oakland and Los Angeles, while he and his wife, Linda, raised their son, Brandon, and daughter, Shannon. Lee quickly began to develop new ideas about martial arts and training based on his experiences, leading him to create his own art called Jeet Kune Do, or “The Way of the Intercepting Fist.”
Lee rekindled his acting career in Hollywood with a series of small parts in film and on television, most notably as Kato in the series “The Green Hornet.” In 1971, he starred in the first of five legendary martial arts films that were huge financial successes and made him an international star. Lee’s life was cut short when he died at age 32 of a cerebral edema caused by an allergic reaction to pain medication, just days before the release of his blockbuster hit “Enter the Dragon” (1973).