Ellen Barkin Joins Bronx Walk of Fame
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 20- Although the rain on Sunday afternoon postponed the baseball game between the Yankees and Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, it did not dampen enthusiasm nor cancel the festivities several blocks east on the Grand Concourse, where the annual Bronx Walk of Fame ceremony was held. Three new Bronx idols were honored by having their names added to street signs posted along the Grand Concourse in the 161st Street area.
Each of the three follows other notable sons and daughters of the Bronx whose lives and careers added prestige to the borough. Miguel Angel Amadeo, a distinguished Latino musician and composer, is the senior of the three at 79 years of age. Amadeo was born in Puerto Rico, but has lived in the Bronx since 1948.
His record shop plus, Casa Amadeo, located at 786 Prospect Avenue, is a historical landmark. Originally opened by Victoria Hernandez, sister of the legendary Puerto Rican composer Rafael Hernandez, the store was the first record shop owned by a Puerto Rican in New York.
Amadeo was the composer of many musical numbers during his lengthy musical career. To the audience at the ceremony, he said, “What brought me here today was “Give it to Me When I’m Alive” by El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico. He sang the popular tune and was joined by many in the audience.
The composer spoke happily of the future, “I’m 79 years old and I don’t intend to retire. I’ve been in the music business 61 years. I hope in the future I will be doing what I’m doing now.”
Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. also introduced one of his predecessors, Robert Abrams. The long-time and respected public official was the Bronx BP from 1970-9. Prior to holding the borough-wide office, Abrams represented a Bronx district in the New York State Assembly from 1966-9.
After his decade as Bronx BP, Abrams was elected to the statewide office of New York State Attorney General in 1979. He retained that office until retiring in 1993. Governor David Patterson named the Justice Building in Albany in honor of Abrams in 2009. After his retirement from elective office, he joined the law firm of Strook, Strook and Lavan.
The only female and the youngest of the trio is famed actress Ellen Barkin. She was born to a working class couple in the mid-1950’s. Aware of her future career early in life, Barkin graduated from the High School of Performing Arts. She majored in history and drama at Hunter College. She went the rounds of auditions after attending Actor’s Studio.
Her acting ability was recognized on stage and screen. She earned a Tony Award for her first Broadway appearance, “The Normal Heart” in 2011. She was a nominee and award winner for motion pictures and TV shows on numerous occasions.
Diaz introduced her as a world famous ambassador for the Bronx, “What’s special for me is when you look at her Twitter page [followed by nearly 150,000] it says Bronx girl. Everywhere she goes in the world she has Bronx on her lips.”
Speaking in the Bronx Supreme Court, where the introductory section of the ceremony was held, the experienced actress drew a big laugh when she said, “The last time I was in this building was when I bailed my grandmother out after she was arrested for running an illegal poker game.” She closed with heart-felt words regarding her place of birth, “I will be a Bronx girl until the day I die.”
Everyone then went outside in the rain to watch the three honorees unveil their street signs. All three appeared excited, extremely happy and in very good humor to be recognized in the Bronx.