Actor/director Jack Nicholson was a fount of Garden State trivia when he was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame on May 2, 2010. Here are excerpts from his acceptance speech:
The definitive quality of New Jersey…I thought about iconoclast, too long. Go their own way, work against the grain. Dance, walk to a different drummer. But let me tell you the piece of history that I found that most illustrates New Jersey. New Jersey is the only state in the Union that voted against Abraham Lincoln. Twice!
I grew up on the Shore…in Neptune, Neptune City, Manasquan, and Spring Lake. Graduated from Manasquan [High School]. No offense to Atlantic City, but, where we grew up, we called it “The Shore.” It extended from Count Basie’s Red Bank all the way down to Point Pleasant, where Eugene O’Neill once lived…
Maybe you don’t know that [New Jersey] had Woodrow Wilson, but the first president we elected was also a maverick, name of Aaron Burr. Of course, in typical Jersey fashion, he negotiated his way down to vice president, with Thomas Jefferson. And well, [you know] what happened after that…
When I got here [tonight], the first thing that happened to me was, Fran [Lebowitz] came walking over to me—she’s an old friend of mine. I said, “Jesus, Fran, you from New Jersey?” “Yes.” I turned around, Frankie Valli was over here. He says, “Gee Jack, I didn’t know you were from New Jersey.” I said, “That’s right”…You can’t get away from New Jersey! I went, I left New Jersey…I get to California. My first job, my first boss is a man named C.G. Maxwell. With Walt Disney, he formed the original Walt Disney productions in New Jersey. My last job, the one you haven’t seen yet, it’s still about to come out…was written by a fellow New Jerseyan, James Brooks, who wrote two of my Oscar performances and [that’s] where I met Danny DeVito …Now Danny has directed me, I have directed him. Incidentally, Danny’s picture was about Jimmy Hoffa—and his residential status in New Jersey, is…still under question.
I could sing the praises of New Jersey all night. I could say the light bulb always touches you. And even mention this man [Gideon Sundback] who invented the zipper. You are never…far from New Jersey! Never.
And in closing, you’ll be very glad to hear, I want to quote Lawrence “Yogi” Berra, who once said, “Thank you everyone, who made this night necessary”…I love you. I love New Jersey.