Whitney Houston Tops List of Hall Nominees

After a long delay, the nominees for the New Jersey Hall of Fame’s sixth class have been announced. This year’s ballot includes the late Whitney Houston, long passed over as a nominee, and her cousin, fellow R&B songstress Dionne Warwick.

The public gets the final voice in choosing the class of 2013. Voters can cast their ballots for one person in each of the five categories: arts and entertainment, sports, historical, enterprise (business and technology) and general. Voting deadline is May 6.

There are 51 nominees on this year’s ballot. In addition to Houston and Warwick, the most recognizable names are entertainers Brooke Shields, Joe Pesci, Eddie Murphy, Joe Piscopo, Alan Alda and Nathan Lane. Other big names include Super Bowl-winning coach Bill Parcells, author Norman Mailer, famed chef Alice Waters and make-up entrepreneur Bobbi Brown.

Grover Cleveland (the only U.S. president born in New Jersey), Dorothea Dix and Thomas Paine are among the nominees from New Jersey’s past. Even Newark-born Aaron Burr, the nation’s third vice president, makes the list, although his political career ended in infamy thanks to his notorious duel with rival Alexander Hamilton.

This year’s voting has long been delayed by changes in the hall’s management structure. For last year’s class, nominees were announced in October 2011; the final inductees were revealed in February 2012. For the five previous classes, an annual induction gala was held at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in early June. No announcement has been made about the time or place for this year’s pared-down ceremony.

The Hall of Fame is proceeding with plans for a June launch of its mobile museum. Based in a 53-foot double expandable trailer, this 850-square-foot “field trip on wheels” will, according to the New Jersey Hall of Fame’s website, “introduce New Jersey’s young students to the fascinating stories and inspiration of New Jersey Hall of Fame inductees.”

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